Employment and Study Opportunities
1. Preservation units deal primarily with materials from the circulating
collections of the General Library System libraries and, to a lesser
extent, with materials from Special Collections and from the University
archives (which is independent of the Wisconsin Historical Society
2. Materials to be preserved have physical problems of one sort
or another. Problems range from minor (torn page, damaged spine)
to quite severe (very brittle paper; textblock in pieces; water
and mold damage). Many of the items are quite old, and may be dusty
and dirty. Therefore, if you have significant allergies to dust
or mold, this may not be the best working environment (though we
do have attractive masks, gloves, and other types of protective
3. Materials are in all subject areas and all languages represented
in campus library collections, so knowledge of foreign languages
is always a plus.
4. Ability to work with details is integral to preservation work,
which involves close examination and comparison of materials, careful
handling, and maintenance of the organizational integrity of items
during processing and treatment.
5. Work-study grants are highly desirable, but are not absolutely
necessary for positions in Preservation units.
6. Work hours are somewhat flexible and are determined in consultation
with your supervisor.
Student work positions are available in the following areas. Follow
the links to find complete descriptions.
Practicum and Independent Study
Preservation is of relevance in every operational area of a library
or archive, and virtually every institutional decision has a preservation
component. All institutional activities -- from broad-based administrative
decisions affecting policy development, building maintenance, and
security, to more narrow departmental handling and processing practices
-- have an effect on the condition of library materials.
The Preservation Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison
General Library System is responsible for the well-being of campus
collections. Over the years, many students have taken the opportunity
to complete a Practicum or Independent Study course in the Department.
Courses may be completed in the Book Assessment unit and/or the
Conservation Lab. Generally, students who choose to gain hands-on
book repair experience in the Conservation Lab are also asked to
complete readings in other aspects of preservation to broaden their
understanding of the field. Students who are preparing to work in
a particular type of library or have specialized interests may also
wish to do focused reading in an area that particularly interests
them. Examples of the types of skills to be gained are listed below.
paper repair using Japanese papers
rebacking (spine repair)
recasing (reattaching textblock to case)
construction of new cases
hand sewing of pamphlets and/or multi-signature textblocks
paper washing and aqueous deacidification
box or envelope-box construction
Book Assessment unit:
ability to evaluate damaged materials and recommend appropriate
skill in navigating the Cataloging Module of Voyager
skill in searching OCLC
preparation of documents for various types of reformatting
techniques of preservation photocopying
evaluation of quality of microfilm or paper reprints
proper handling of deteriorated materials
meet daily challenges of preservation, e.g., disaster response
Typical objectives of Practicum or Independent Study students
1. To understand the mission and priorities of the department
and its relationship with other library departments.
2. To become familiar with preservation issues and the journals,
websites, and organizations that discuss them.
3. To learn criteria relevant in assessing deteriorated materials
and to employ the criteria in choosing an appropriate treatment.
4. To gain hands-on experience in book repair and other conservation
5. To complete readings on a preservation topic of particular
1. Have you ever worked in a library? If yes, what type of work
did you do?
2. What type of library do you intend to work in as a professional?
3. What aspect of library work most interests you?
4. Have you ever done any of the following -- craftwork, artwork,
cooking, sewing, other (please specify):
5. Do you have severe allergies to dust or mold?