The Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Internship (Chicago, IL, USA)

2018 Summer Internship – University of Chicago Library

The University of Chicago Library is accepting applications for the 2018 Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Internship. This Internship, established in 2006, 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. Dr. Somit has established the Internship to honor his parents’ legacy, serve the needs of the Library’s collection, and prepare individuals for important work to preserve library materials and other scholarly works in all formats so that they are available for research and teaching.

The six-week Internship is intended to provide firsthand experience and a broader understanding of the care, treatment, and accessibility of library and archives materials in a large research library. The intern will work with the Preservation Librarian and other Department managers to learn about the operations, issues, and challenges of a comprehensive preservation and access program. Technical Services, the Digital Library Development Center, and the Special Collections Research Center are all partners in the Library’s preservation initiatives.  Under the guidance of the Preservation Librarian and other professional staff, the intern will undertake a project and prepare a final report.  During the internship, the intern will have the opportunity to collaborate with other library staff and give a presentation about the project and its findings.

Audio Recordings Description Project
Under the direction of the Preservation Librarian and the Metadata Analyst Librarian, the Intern will focus on a review and analysis of descriptive and administrative metadata for sound recordings held by the University of Chicago’s Digital Media Archive (DMA).  The DMA holds an extensive collection of audio and some video recordings primarily created by University of Chicago faculty in the course of their research.  The collection includes 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 of Chicago over the past eighty years, and are of great research 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 the many dialects and endangered languages throughout Central America.  The University of Chicago Library also holds several paper-based archival collections that are closely related to the DMA’s Mesoamerican Collection of recordings.  The majority of recordings in the Digital Media Archive have been converted to digital form and some are available on the web (see for a fuller description and catalog of the DMA materials).

The goal of the project is to perform a critical assessment of the existing descriptive metadata that has been created for these language recordings.  Work will contribute to development of metadata guidelines for media collections that will enable the Library to ingest the collection into the Library’s Digital Repository, provide online access, and ensure its integration into and compatibility with the discovery systems for digital collections of other types and formats.  This project will support future planning for the delivery of both public and restricted media collections and the ability to share standardized metadata more broadly.

Tasks during the internship may include:

  • Examining current metadata and controlled vocabulary used in the Archive
  • Reviewing of metadata schemas in use for the Library’s existing digital collections and for similar collections at selected other institutions
  • Making recommendations for the use of existing metadata, methods for crosswalking to other schemas, enhancement of metadata with additional data (such as ISO language codes), or adoption of additional standards
  • Preparing a final report about the work of the project and recommendations
  • To the extent possible, making some desired changes or enhancements to metadata; identifying relationships and ways to connect the DMA collections to related Library collections; providing inventories of other media collections for digital conversion
  • During the project, the intern will have the opportunity to collaborate with Preservation, Technical Services, and IT and Digital Scholarship staff.

Eligibility and Requirements
The Internship is open to recent graduates and currently enrolled students of a recognized library school of information or related program; or students with equivalent experience and training in preservation, digital collections and metadata.  Whether through coursework or previous practical application, the Somit intern must be familiar with preservation principles, and the creation and management of metadata for media collections. The applicant should possess the ability to work collaboratively and independently to accomplish project goals. Familiarity with spreadsheets, databases, and metadata schemas for media collections is highly desirable.  Background in linguistics or anthropology is a plus, but language expertise is not required.

The 2018 Internship provides a $4,000 stipend.

To apply for the Internship, individuals should electronically submit a letter of application, resume, list of completed relevant coursework or training, and contact information (name and email address) for two professional references. To be considered, individuals must currently be authorized to work permanently in the US and be able to commit to six consecutive weeks of full-time work between approximately June 4 and August 31.

The deadline for applications is Monday, March 5, 2018. Submit electronic applications to:

For more information please see our Somit Preservation Internship website ( or contact: Sherry Byrne, Preservation Librarian, University of Chicago Library,

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity/ Disabled / Veterans Employer.