Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Internship

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2024 Somit Internship. For information about the current internships see the previous listing: Somit Internship 2024.

The Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Internship Program at the University of Chicago Library offers an annual six-week internship in the areas of library preservation, conservation, digitization and digital library collections. The Program has been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Albert Somit, AB’41, PhD’47, University of Chicago alumnus and past president of Southern Illinois University. Established to honor his parents’ legacy, the internships support the needs of the Library and its collections and prepare students for the important work of preserving and providing long-term access to library resources and other scholarly works in all formats for research and teaching.

The internship is intended to give current graduate students or recent graduates of a preservation, conservation, archives or library and information program, an opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge in a research library setting. Students will gain experience in a comprehensive preservation program for the care of collections and undertake and complete a project based on the needs of the Library. Technical Services, the Digital Library Development Center, and the Special Collections Research Center are all partners in the Library's preservation initiatives and may also be the focus of internship projects. Interns will work in the Library’s Preservation Department under the guidance of the Preservation Librarian and other library professionals dependent on the selected project.

The posting for each annual internship is made in mid to late winter with applications due in early spring. The Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Internship provides a $5,000 stipend for the six week period.

During the Internship, interns will learn about the functions, policies and practices in Preservation and other key departments. In addition to gaining an understanding of library operations, interns will undertake a major project which may include such projects as:

  • Designing, testing, and documenting a new workflow for a specific operation
  • Identifying and recommending 'best practices' and procedures for a new library activity or service
  • Conducting a condition assessment with recommendations for a print, image or archival collection
  • Inventorying and assessing media collections
  • Analyzing a collection and developing a digitization project proposal
  • Analyzing needs and recommending metadata requirements and enhancements for a digital collection
  • Developing preservation education, outreach or training resources for users or staff
  • Researching rights issues for digital collections

Eligibility and Requirements:

  • Applicants must be a current graduate student or recent graduate of a preservation, conservation, archives or library information program, or a student with equivalent experience and training
  • Applicants must commit to six consecutive weeks of full-time employment between June 1st – August 31st
  • Applicants must be eligible to work in the United States
  • Interns will be required to submit a final project report at the end of the Internship

To apply for the Somit Preservation Internship please submit the following items:

  • Cover letter with statement of interest
  • Current resume
  • Description of graduate program including list of completed courses and/or relevant experience
  • Contact information for two professional references

For additional information contact Sherry Byrne, Preservation Librarian.

With the generous gift of Dr. Albert Somit, the Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Internship was first offered in the summer of 2006, in 2008, and then annually from 2013 through 2019. After being put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Internship is again being offered annually as of 2023. A summary and project description follows for the current, and each past Somit Preservation Intern.

Past Preservation Interns

2023 Preservation Intern: Ellis Martin

2023 Preservation Intern: Ellis Martin

Ellis Martin, the Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Intern for 2023, worked on copyright aspects of the NEH-funded Mapping Chicagoland Digitization Project.

For this project, Ellis focused on a copyright analysis of sheet maps and atlases published through 1940 digitized from collections at the University of Chicago, the Newberry Library, and the Chicago History Museum. Work included developing a workflow to determine and apply standardized copyright codes for the collection at the item level and creating rights statements at the collection level. This project drew on his knowledge of information law, access issues, and experience working with cultural heritage collections.

Ellis is a graduate student at University of California, Berkeley School of information, in the Master of Management and Systems program (MIMS) with a focus in applied machine learning and data science. He has a Bachelor of Arts, Visual and Critical Studies from Mills College, and currently holds the position of Collections and Digitization Associate at Letterform Archive in San Francisco. Ellis is also a researcher alongside Stanford postdoctoral fellow Dr. Federico Bianchi, using machine learning to support trans historian Dr. Susan Stryker’s current research.

2019 Preservation Intern: Milton Machuca-Gálvez

2019 Somit Intern: Milton Machuca-Gálvez

Milton Machuca-Gálvez, the Mary and Samuel Somit Intern for 2019, worked on a University of Chicago institutional history metadata project under the direction of Kathleen Feeney, Head of Archives Processing and Digital Access in the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC). Milton’s project focused on researching and describing the history, evolution and changes within academic units of the University and then creating standards-compliant records as a means of enhancing discovery and accessibility to the University publications and archival records.

The University of Chicago opened its classrooms in 1892 with a faculty of 120 scholars offering graduate and undergraduate instruction across the arts, sciences, and professions. Today, the University has more than eighty departments, schools, divisions, institutes, and committees, some with roots in the founding faculty, others established in the twenty-first century. The SCRC holds University publications and extensive archival records that describe the growth and development of the University’s academic units from its founding to the present.

For the project, Milton researched and documented the evolution of three related units, The Department of Anthropology, the Division of Social Sciences, and the more recent Center for Race, Politics, and Culture. This information was used to create model Encoded Archival Context for Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF) and International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families (ISAAR CPF) compliant records. In his final report, Milton also provided guidance and recommendations for procedures and tools that might be used for the continuation of this work in the future.

Milton holds a Licenciatura in Psychology from Universidad Centroamericana "José Simeón Cañas" in El Salvador, and an M.A. in Anthropology and a Ph.D. in Cultural/Visual Anthropology from Temple University. He held many academic and teaching positions at institutions in Pennsylvania and California and is currently an MLIS graduate student at the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information.

2018 Preservation Intern: Julianna Pakstis

2018 Somit Intern: Julianna Pakstis

Julianna Pakstis, the Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Intern for 2018, worked on an audio recording description project under the direction of Thomas Dousa, the Metadata Analyst Librarian. Julie’s project focused on the collection of sound and some video recordings in the University of Chicago’s Digital Media Archive (DMA). The DMA holds extensive media collections of spoken-word recordings in over 180 languages and dialects as well as ethnographic music recordings. Collections reflect the teaching and scholarly interests of faculty and researchers who have worked at the University over the past eighty years and are of great interest to linguists, anthropologists and ethnomusicologists. One of the Archive’s distinctive collections is the Mesoamerican Collection which includes field recordings from the 1930 – 1990s of many endangered languages and dialects spoken throughout Central America.

For this project, Julie enhanced existing metadata relating to the Mesoamerican Collection in the DMA to make it more compatible with the requirements of linked data. She also undertook a critical assessment of the presentation of metadata in the current interface of the DMA, comparing the current metadata scheme with those of similar collections at peer institutions, and drew up recommendations about which elements of metadata should be presented in future iterations of the interface. Julie’s participation in the Internship thus drew upon her extensive knowledge of languages and her experience with digital collections, metadata projects, and Mesoamerican Linguistic collections.

Julie is a recent graduate of Rutgers University with a Masters in Information in Library Science with a concentration in Archives and Preservation. While in graduate school, she held positions as Special Collections Intern at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and Intern in the Special Collection Research Center at Temple University in the Urban Archives. She has a B.A. in Classical Studies and Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. In her classical studies, Julie focused on comparative and historical linguistics and mastered a number of languages in the process.

2017 Preservation Intern: Caroline Evans

2017 Somit Intern: Caroline Evans

Caroline Evans, the Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Intern for 2017, undertook a collection needs assessment survey for the historical Dewey collection in the John Crerar Science Library. The collection of 420,000 items including serials, monographs and pamphlets in the history of science and technology, is particularly strong in the areas of engineering, manufacturing and applied arts dating from the late 19th to the early 20th century. Caroline (Carrie) designed, conducted, and analyzed results of a large random sample survey looking at discoverability and cataloging issues for the large portion of unbound serials and preservation needs of the collection overall. Information gathered in this survey will assist strategic planning and future project development, grant writing and fund raising for this collection.

Carrie holds a B.A. in English from Smith College and is a third-year student in the dual degree graduate program where she will receive an M.A. in Art History from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, and an M.S. in Library information Studies from Long Island University with a concentration in archives and preservation. For the project, she drew upon both her experience in preservation, conservation and in technical services to complete the survey. Carrie has worked on archives preservation projects in the conservation departments of both the New York Academy of Medicine and New York University, and most recently worked on a digital image metadata project in the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

2016 Preservation Intern: Andrew Mancuso

2016 Somit Intern: Andrew Mancuso

Andrew Mancuso, the Library’s Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Intern for 2016, has a B.A. in English from St. Bonaventure University and an MLIS from Dominican University with an emphasis on metadata, archives and digitization. He has also earned a Certificate in Collections Care from the University of Chicago Graham School, taken conservation courses at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies, and worked on several preservation and digitization projects at Chicago area cultural institutions.

Andrew worked with the Conservation Unit to design, perform, and analyze results of a large scale, random sample condition survey of the Rare Book Collection of approximately 200,000 printed volumes held in the Special Collections Research Center. The information gathered in this survey will aid in determining the overall health of this collection, planning future conservation projects, and fundraising for the Library’s conservation program.

2015 Preservation Intern: Heather Hughes

2015 Somit Intern: Heather Hughes

Heather Hughes, the 2015 Somit Intern, undertook analysis and planning for a preservation project to digitize microforms of rarely held Middle Eastern serials. The University of Chicago Library acquired extensive collections of rarely held materials and in partnership with the University's Middle East Documentation Center filmed these collections beginning in the 1970's and continuing until 2009. The reformatting was done primarily for the purpose of making rarely held titles more accessible. Although this collection is an area of distinction within the Library's larger Middle Eastern, obsolete technology and incomplete cataloging of many titles hinder access to the collection. Together with Librarians in the Preservation Department and the Middle East Bibliographer, Heather researched a selection of titles to identify eligibility for digitization, developed a copyright policy, explored possibilities for online presentation and developed a pilot study to test proof of concept. Heather’s final report includes recommendations for the future processing and presentation of these titles. This work will enable planning for a larger digitization project of the Middle Eastern Microform Collection.

Heather received her MLIS from the University of Texas at Austin's School of Information, where she focused on academic librarianship and digitization. She also holds an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Washington and a B.A. in French Studies from Smith College.

2014 Preservation Intern: Kathleen Adrienne Conn

2014 Somit Intern: Kathleen Adrienne Conn

Kathleen Adrienne Conn, the 2014 Somit Intern worked in the University of Chicago Library's Digitization Unit to establish a model workflow for the digitization of image collections in order to promote the interoperability of the Library's holdings with other image collections. Using the Middle East Photograph Archive, one of the first collections to be digitized and made available on the web in the mid-1990s, Adrienne inventoried approximately 400 prints in order to provide standardized and up-to-date metadata as outlined by the Visual Resources Association's Core Schema. After being scanned at a high resolution and in full color, the resultant digital surrogates are now available through an improved interface that allows for easy exploration of the collection by students, faculty, and researchers. In addition to determining procedures to be used for future efforts, this project explored the ways in which preservation activities support information access and promote the Library's holdings.

Adrienne received her MLIS from the University of Texas at Austin's School of Information, where she adopted preservation of the cultural record as the focus of her studies. Before pursuing her graduate degree Adrienne received a BA from Notre Dame of Maryland University in creative writing and English literature.

2013 Somit Intern: William Schlaack

2013 Somit Intern: William Schlaack

William Schlaack came to the Library in the summer of 2013 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he had just completed his first year as a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Science. William received his BA in German and Religion from Kalamazoo College. He was also a Preservation Unit Graduate Assistant at UIUC Libraries, where he worked on a variety of preservation-related projects and activities. During his Internship at the University of Chicago Library, William developed a Disaster Response and Recovery Plan for the Library. His work involved learning about the Library building, documenting existing procedures, interviewing potential recovery vendors, and meeting with staff from almost every collection and administrative department to gather information about salvage priorities. His final report included a draft plan that will form the basis of the Library's formal plan and includes contact information for staff, key building information, disaster response team responsibilities, recovery priorities, necessary supplies to have on hand, strategies for training, and recommendations to keep the plan current so that it continues to serve the Library over time.

2008 Preservation Intern: Kathleen Fear

2008 Somit Intern: Kathleen Fear

Kathleen Fear came to the University of Chicago Library after completing her first year at the University of Michigan's School of Information, with a specialization in preservation of information. She received her BS in Physics from Yale University. Kathleen's project focused on issues involving the preservation of obsolete media–a growing concern, and a high priority topic for the Library. Her project was two-fold. Kathleen first developed a process and workflow to assist library subject specialists with decision-making about materials in the Library's floppy disk collection. She then investigated and analyzed current delivery options for audio/visual materials in academic and research institutions and compiled access policies, permissions management practices, and interfaces in use for restricted materials. In addition to Kathleen's final report, she produced a power-point presentation on floppy disk preservation that she presented to the Library's Collection Development Committee and, later at a poster session at Preservation and Reformatting Section of the American Library Association Midwinter meeting in 2009.

2006 Preservatio Intern: Stephanie Gowler

2006 Somit Intern: Stephanie Gowler

Stephanie Gowler was our first intern for the newly established Preservation Internship Program. Stephanie came to the Library from the University of Iowa where she received her MA from the School of Library and Information Science, with a focus in preservation. She finished a Certificate in Book Arts from Iowa's Center for the Book and as a graduate student she had worked in the Library's Conservation Department. During her Internship at the Library, Stephanie spent time with each of the Preservation Department Unit Heads learning about the operations and strategies employed to meet the preservation needs of collections. Her project focused on the preservation of and access to non-print media formats held in both circulating and archival collections. Her final report included a bibliography of important resources for managing non-print media collections and a survey tool that she developed to assess the condition and document preservation needs of the Library's various obsolete media formats.