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The Modern Archives Institute

Twice each year the Manuscript Division presents a daylong series of workshops, presentations, tours, and one-on-one meetings as host to participants in the Modern Archives Institute.

The Modern Archives Institute is a two-week training course in archival practice offered in bi-annual sessions by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. The institute provides overviews and instruction in archival theory and procedures to archivists, and to librarians, museum curators, volunteers, and employees of nonprofit organizations, religious institutions, universities, or governmental agencies who are taking on new archival responsibilities in their workplaces. Each session involves one day of intense programming on-site at the Library of Congress, during which the participants’ training is coordinated and sponsored through the Manuscript Division.

Participants of all ages come from around the country and internationally to attend the institute. Their interest may be in personal papers or public or private records.

The Modern Archives Institute focuses on the following areas:

•Acquisition of archival material
•Appraisal and disposition
•Arrangement and description
•Reference and access
•Public programs

Panel presentation audience

Processing presentation

Preparation Section tour

Reading Room tour

Stacks tour

Viewing documents

Groups for tours


Each of these areas of responsibility is addressed in the day of orientations, discussions, and workshops offered at the Library of Congress, during which Manuscript Division reference librarians, archivists, curators, and automation and digital specialists act as mentors, lecturers, panelists, consultants, and behind-the-scenes guides.

Modern Archive Institute students receive tours of the Manuscript Division’s reading room, collection stacks, and processing areas led by seasoned archivists. Specialists show documents from the Division’s collections and explain their significance. Presentations address reference work, acquisitions, archival processing, automation issues and the production of finding aids, and digital projects.

Students can sign up for one-on-one sessions with Library experts and tour other sections of the Library, including the Prints & Photographs Division, Geography & Maps, and Music & Performing Arts. They may also meet with staff of the Copyright Office or Conservation Division, as well as archivists, cataloguers, subject specialists, and digital reference specialists and coordinators.



For more information about the institute, or to apply for an upcoming session, see the National Archives Web site for the Modern Archives Institute.

See also “MAI Archival Students Value Day at Library” by Cheryl Fox in the Library of Congress Gazette, July 21, 2006. The online version of this staff publication can be viewed while visiting the Library at the Online Gazette at the URL

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  October 1, 2008
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