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Preventive Conservation Internship


The Conservation Division at the Library of Congress is one of four Divisions that fall within the Library's Preservation Directorate. The prospective Preventive Care Intern can expect to interact with a large percentage of the staff on a broad cross-section of materials. The Division presently employs several dozen conservation professionals. Undertaking a variety of special projects with both Conservation Division staff and contract conservators and specialists enriches the Intern’s experience. The Preservation Directorate Resource Center—located within the Conservation Division—contains one of the most comprehensive collections of conservation literature available, as well as a full-time Librarian, to assist with the Intern’s research.

The goal of the Internship is to provide an educational opportunity for conservators seeking training in preventive conservation. Focusing on Library-wide conservation problems, Interns will be challenged to develop practical and theoretical solutions for a broad range of formats and collections. Alternatively, Interns may focus on the full range of preservation actions for a single broad class of Library materials (e.g., audio-visual, book, digital, paper, or photograph).

Interns will learn how to survey and assess collections; research the needs of collections; develop collection care protocols and strategies; apply preventive treatments; develop treatment work plans; stabilize collections for moves, digitization, and exhibitions; and monitor and manage work in conservation. Interns also contribute to the conservation of library and archival collections through participation in education and training initiatives.

In addition to practical exercises and projects, Interns will develop their theoretical knowledge in key conservation areas through preventive care projects. These projects may include selecting materials for treatment; monitoring and control of the Library’s many environments; creating effective micro-environments for collections storage; undertaking disaster preparedness, response and recovery; assisting with program administration; and developing strategies for the long-term preservation of collections.

Documentation Interns master a variety of documentation formats including checklist and narrative Library of Congress report forms and condition surveys using various technologies. Interns are encouraged to work with other staff to become familiar with various forms of documentation in use at the Library. This also includes photo documentation, color and B/W photography, and digital imaging as well as photomacrography. While not part of typical documentation, beta radiography and transmitted light for recording paper structure, and photography with UV and IR light sources are also available. Additional tools and techniques become available regularly.
Examination Interns are required to perform appropriately detailed examinations of objects in preparation for treatment and/or research. Techniques commonly employed include visual examination using a variety of light sources, as well as binocular magnification, fiber and pigment analysis using chemical tests and polarizing light microscopy as warranted. Various spot testing procedures used in book conservation for identification of leathers, adhesives, paper additives and fibers are also available if needed. Collaboration with the Preservation Research and Testing Division Laboratory and access to additional instrumental analytical equipment is possible.
Exhibition Numerous Library initiated exhibitions as well as an active loan schedule require a portion of the Division's resources. Interns learn about the Library's exhibition-related policies and participate in pre-exhibition examination and treatment, and occasionally installation.
Housing Interns are required to complete projects by providing a proper housing for the objects they treat. Interns learn the basic housing forms, including clamshell boxing, standard matting and polyester film encapsulation.
Lab Maintenance Interns are expected to participate in regular conservation laboratory maintenance activities along with the rest of the staff. They are periodically responsible for preparing stock materials, maintaining equipment, or selecting and ordering supplies. Interns will experience first hand the dynamics of working in a communal space with a large professional staff.
Research Interns are encouraged to engage in a research project during their internship. The Division may involve Interns with research projects already initiated as well as those proposed by the Intern. Most desirable are those projects that can be completed within the internship year. Topics for internship projects are of the Intern's choosing, subject to approval by supervisors. Interns are also encouraged to fully utilize the Preservation Resource Center and to remain current with conservation literature.
Treatment The Library Intern may undertake or observe a wide range of conservation treatments, including many types of dry cleaning, consolidation, removal of extraneous materials, flattening, mending, filling (including leaf-casting), toning and inpainting, mount repair and removal, lining, tape removal, stain reduction, treatment of albums, and treatment of case photographs.
Tours The Library of Congress has tremendous quantity, quality and diversity in its holdings. Interns are given the opportunity to tour Custodial Divisions as well as other Divisions of the Preservation Directorate. Shorter-term (12-week) internships will provide a less in-depth experience of the Library.
Training and Conservation Professional Activities Interns are given the opportunity to participate in outreach activities such as lab tours, workshops, Library staff training, and public inquiries. Interns are encouraged to participate in the Washington Conservation Guild by attending meetings and giving lectures. Interns will meet with curators and historians to discuss individual objects and their treatment. The Washington area is home to many museums and other institutions with conservation facilities that are available for visits.

The specific areas to be covered during the internship period will be determined in consultation with the Library of Congress Conservation Division. The focus can be adjusted to suit the individual needs of the intern. Areas available for concentrated study include, general conservation assessment, collection condition survey and examination, collection processing and documentation, collection housing and housekeeping, treatment, work space and equipment maintenance, emergency preparedness and disaster recovery, environmental monitoring, exhibition preparation, mold mitigation, integrated pest management, packing and moving collections, labeling and marking, research, staff training and user awareness, preservation consultations, outreach and advocacy, and preservation reformatting. Additional administrative skills that may be used are specifications and contracting, fund raising, training and team-building. Alternatively the intern can focus on a full range of the above actions for a single class of media, such as audio-visual, photographic, paper, book, or digital media.


Candidates will be selected on the basis of conservation knowledge, skills, and abilities, an active commitment to professional ethics as stated in the American Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, effective communication skills, and an understanding of library and archival collections.

The Library accepts one or more advanced level interns per year in the Preventive Conservation Specialization. Length of internship is typically 11-12 months and generally follows the academic year. Other options are possible depending on time available, current Library staffing and work load, and the candidate's interests and qualifications.

Interested parties should complete and submit the Preservation Fellowship and Internship Application Form (PDF file). In addition to the application form, please provide a résumé, two letters of recommendation, and a formal letter of interest. All documentation provided should be typed. Documentation which is difficult to read will be excluded from consideration. Those applicants most qualified for this fellowship will be scheduled for an interview with Fellowship coordinators.

Application Schedule
  • Applications will be accepted after January 3 and until February 1 each year.
  • Announcement of selection will be made by April 15th.
  • Internship begins in the Summer.
  • Citizenship Requirements: Open to U.S. residents. Non-U.S. residents must be Visa-eligible.
Stipend/Compensation Limited funds may be available for fellowships courtesy of Harper-Inglis, Cecil and Michael Pulitizer, and INA.
To apply, please direct letters of application to:

Maria Nugent
Conservation Division
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20540-4531.
Telephone: (202) 707-8717
FAX: (202) 707-1525

Because of security measures at the Library, US Mail and Federal Express delivery may be delayed. We recommend that all applications and inquiries be sent by FAX.

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