Working in Special Collections

Each semester, Special Collections offers a small number of paid student assistant positions, internships for course credit, and volunteer project positions. Learn more about this opportunities below or contact Special Collections staff at for more information.

Student assistants

Special Collections student assistants contribute to the success of our department by helping to serve our researchers, process and describe collections, and ensure the security of the physical materials. Typical work includes pulling and reshelving materials, rehousing and inventorying collections, and assisting researchers working in the Special Collections Reading Room. To apply, please complete the student employment application form on the Library’s Employment webpage. You can also email Special Collections staff at for more information.

Former Special Collections students and graduate assistants have secured jobs with the National Archives, the Baltimore Museum of Industry, Creekside Digital, the National Library of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland Libraries, Enoch Pratt Free Library, and the Maryland State Archives.

Internship and volunteer opportunities

Special Collections accepts interns and volunteers year-round, as allowed by staff availability. Contact Special Collections staff at to begin the application process. All applicants will be required to complete an interview and submit 3 professional or educational references. Most projects require work on-site at the UMBC campus; remote options are available by request. Possible projects include:

Exhibit assistance: help to curate, install, and promote an original exhibit, either in the Library Rotunda, Special Collections reading room, or online.

Archival processing: rehouse, arrange, and describe analog and digital archival collections.

Collection-level description: create collection-level records for archival and photography collections

Digitization: prepare, scan, record technical metadata, QC, and upload collection materials to CONTENTdm

Metadata creation: Learn/practice subject analysis, use of controlled vocabularies, CONTENTdm, and PastPerfect as you create item-level descriptions for digitized collections

Outreach: raise awareness of collections and resources

Reference and instruction: assist in class development and research services including subject guides, reference transactions, the Special Collections Reading Room, and remote reference services

Sample student and volunteer projects

Reading Room open by appointment