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Paper Conservation Internship

The Conservation Division at the Library of Congress is one of four Divisions that falls within the Library's Preservation Directorate. The prospective Paper Conservation 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. In addition to the permanent staff, there are a variety of special projects conducted by contract personnel which serve to further enrich the Intern's experience. Located within the Conservation Division is the Preservation Directorate Resource Center, staffed by a full time Librarian, which contains one of the most comprehensive collections of conservation literature available.

The goal of the Internship is to provide an educational opportunity for conservation graduate students seeking training in paper conservation. Interns focus on conservation problems in a research library context and are challenged to develop solutions for a broad range of formats and collections. Interns may have opportunities in variety of areas listed below including: documentation, examination, treatment, housing, preventive conservation, and research. In addition to practical exercises and projects, Interns may develop and expand their knowledge in fundamental areas of works of art and manuscripts on paper including identification of drawing and printing techniques and processes, connoisseurship issues, deterioration mechanisms, storage environments, and emergency preparedness and recovery.

Documentation Interns may master a variety of written documentation formats including checklist and narrative Library of Congress report forms and condition surveys utilizing various technologies. Interns are encouraged to work with the staff photographer to become familiar with various forms of photographic documentation in use at the Library. Included are color and B/W photography for treatment documentation, digital imagining, beta radiography and transmitted light for recording paper structure, photography with UV and IR light sources as well as photomicrography.
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 of identification of adhesives, paper additives and fibers are routinely utilized. Collaboration with the Research and Testing Division 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 that they treat. Interns learn the basic housing forms, including boxing, 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. Interns will experience first hand the dynamics of working in a communal space with a large professional staff.
Preventive Conservation Interns have the opportunity to participate in preventive conservation activities such as environmental monitoring, stack cleaning, archival-housing projects, emergency preparedness and collection surveys.
Research Interns are encouraged to engage in a research project during their Internship. Most desirable are those that can be completed within the Internship year. Topics for projects are of the Intern's choosing, subject approval by supervisors. Interns are also encouraged to fully utilize the Preservation Resource Center and to remain current with conservation literature.
Treatment A wide range of conservation treatments are undertaken by the prospective Fellow depending upon his/her current level of expertise. Because of the size and scope of the Library's Collection, an impressive range of material can be candidates for treatment depending on the Conservation Division's priorities in a given year.
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 offices in the Directorate.
Training and Conservation Professional Activities Interns are given the opportunity to participate in outreach activities such as lab tours 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 which are available for visits.

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 may accept one or more advanced level Interns per year in the Paper 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 February1 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.


Limited funds may be available 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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