General Internship Program

Opportunities for our General Internship program are posted here when available. Although most are part-time and in the DC area, please note the specific hours and geographic location for each. While most are unpaid learning experiences, we are happy to work with a student’s college or university to help them obtain credit. 

Applications for all projects will be collected through the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment System ( Be sure to select "Smithsonian Institution Libraries" as the unit and "Smithsonian Institution Libraries Internship Program" as the program. You may then select the applicable projects.  Applications should include an essay detailing your academic and career goals and what you hope to learn through this internship, as well as a resume, academic transcripts and two references. 

Spring 2019 Opportunties
Applications close November 16, 2018

Art & Artists’ Files

Locations: American Art & Portrait Gallery Library or Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden Library

These opportunities would be ideal for candidates who are upper level undergraduates or graduate students studying art history, art, library science, or archival studies. The ability to stay organized, focus on detailed work, and perform fine motor skills is necessary.  Knowledge of additional language(s) is useful but not required.

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries artists’ files are an exceptional resource for art historical research. Researchers rely on artist files to establish chronologies, flesh out exhibition histories, review stylistic developments, and assess the critical reception of artists over time. These valued and heavily used resources contain items of an ephemeral nature such as small catalogs, brochures, and announcements, many including illustrations. Often these files are the only obtainable sources of critical documentation about well-established artists, as well as lesser known, emerging, and regional artists.

Through this project, an intern will learn how to evaluate the existing folder content for retention and deaccession; update the physical housing of the collection to current archival standards; reorganize and relabel folder content according to best practices; and reconcile collection holdings in the Smithsonian Libraries’ Art & Artist Files Database. The intern will also have the opportunity to select material and highlight it through blog posts, social media content and small exhibits.

The student will gain first hand experience working with primary materials in American, modern and contemporary art, developing knowledge of artists, stylistic developments, and chronologies in this area of study. The student will also be introduced to library and archival best practices for the physical maintenance and day-to-day processing and arranging of numerous and varied items found in special collections. The production of social media stories and blog posts will additionally provide an opportunity to research and write about an art topic, investigate and obtain copyright permissions, and publish a completed project on the Smithsonian's web platforms.

Note: Similar projects are available at two different branch libraries -  American Art & Portrait Gallery Library and Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden Library. The American Art & Portrait Gallery Library project focuses specifically on the files of the Art Students League of New York, while the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Gallery Library’s collection includes varied materials related to modern and contemporary art. If you have a preference, please indicate which branch in your application.

Collection Maintenance & Weeding

Location: Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Gallery Library

The ideal candidate will be enrolled in an ALA-accredited library science program, and should have an interest in research libraries, collection development and maintenance, and the arts. Successful candidates will demonstrate a general knowledge of major movements and figures of 20th and 21st century art; be familiar with locating library materials according to the Library of Congress classification system; be able to focus on detailed work; and be able to organize and track data in an Excel spreadsheet. 

Just as weeding is necessary to grow a garden, weeding a collection is one of the most essential practices a library can do. A responsive collection enables patrons to easily find what they need, creates room for new voices and perspectives, and presents the library as a more credible source for information. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library's spring intern will participate in cultivating a world-class collection of research materials on modern and contemporary art responsive to the current needs of today's museum staff.

Working with the library staff, the intern will apply quantitative and qualitative criteria to critically evaluate the general collection for significant deselection of physical formats. The intern will work with OPAC records and reports to analyze currency, usage, and duplication across Smithsonian Libraries. This aspect of the project will prioritize reduction of multiple copies, superseded editions, replication across different formats, irreparably damaged and outdated items, and little-used materials. The intern will also assist in the development of standards for identifying materials to retain onsite that feature unique content, illuminate underrepresented groups, and are most relevant to the Hirshhorn’s research community through application of prior knowledge of modern and contemporary art with new investigation into the museum's collection, seminal artists, influential curators, galleries, critics and collectors, and groundbreaking art movements and exhibitions.

The student will learn collection analysis techniques for a fine arts museum library, and will have the opportunity to expand knowledge of artists, movements, history, and theory in modern and contemporary art. As time and schedule permit, the student will observe and engage in additional enrichment and professional activities throughout the Smithsonian.

Serials Collection Maintenance

Location: Smithsonian Libraries Research Annex, occasionally other branches (applicant should be comfortable with public transportation and various office settings)

The ideal candidate is either an undergraduate in any research discipline with an interest in research libraries, how research collections are developed and maintained, and has a desire to explore if library collections work is suited to them, or, a graduate student interested in collections processing. The candidate must have an astute attention to detail, good proofreading and editing skills, a willingness to ask questions, an ability to work independently, comfort in quiet settings, and a love book collecting and the smell of books! The candidate must know how to navigate online research catalogs, and enter data into Excel spreadsheets.

The intern will learn more about serials collection processing, under the tutelage of the branch librarian. The intern will learn how to survey and consolidate the serial holdings of a widely held title across multiple locations in the Smithsonian Libraries network. The intern will analyze holdings records in the Smithsonian Libraries’ online catalog, SIRIS, locate and verify holdings on branch shelves, and document findings on an online spreadsheet. The intern will maintain statistics of work completed.

The intern will acquire experience with serials processing from a collections management standpoint; learn or deepen understanding of bibliographic data and how it relates to online catalog records; and gain insight into basic collections management practices in a research library. The intern will gain library collections experience in a large government museum library environment at a prestigious research institution and will hone the bibliographic research strategies needed in a research library environment.