Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections

Location Description

The Special Collections unit of the Library at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is a dynamic and responsive team of four faculty archivists and librarians and one staff member working in a collaborative environment that stresses a standards-based approach to curation. The repository offers researcher-centered services that support teaching and learning at UTC and in the community. Special Collections’ physical space includes the George C. Connor Reading Room, a digitization and processing lab, a photography studio, and a climate-controlled secure stacks consisting of compact and fixed shelving and flat file cabinets. Special Collections houses more than 3,500 linear feet of manuscript and archival material and nearly 13,000 books and theses. Additionally, Special Collections manages scholarly communications, open publishing, affordable course, and data management initiatives on campus. In June 2017, the repository accepted joint responsibility for the curation of the Chattanooga History Collections, which are co-owned by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Public Library. Finally, Special Collections administers digital repositories powered by ArchivesSpace, CONTENTdm, and Digital Commons and up to 25 part-time student assistants, interns, and volunteers each semester.

Practicum Work Mode

On site

Semesters or Time Period Available

Ongoing, not limited to a specific semester


600 Douglas Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37403


Carolyn Runyon
Director, Special Collections

Student Tasks

arranging and describing archival collections;
authoring biographical and historical notes that provide context for archival materials;
creating finding aids in compliance with Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS) and local practices using ArchivesSpace;
conducting and transcribing oral history interviews;
creating descriptive metadata and developing digital collections using CONTENTdm;
applying controlled vocabularies, including LCSH, LCNAF, AAT, and, to describe digital objects;
curating web and physical exhibitions and creating exhibition panels and catalogs;
authoring lesson plans and instructional materials, including video tutorials, featuring local primary sources for K-12 audiences;
conducting research and writing narratives for grant applications;
and developing Buzzfeed quizzes, blog posts, and other outreach initiatives.

Type of Mentoring Provided to the Student

Practica students help Special Collections achieve fulfill its mission by working on archival processing and description or digital capture and metadata projects, and outreach initiatives including exhibitions and programming. We create effective internships by collaborating with students to create clearly defined goals, offering feedback on projects and performance in weekly meetings, and providing opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences. Special Collections stresses a standards-based approach to digitization and description, and uses archival and digital asset management systems commonly adopted by galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs) in the United States. Practica students who successfully complete projects in Special Collections gain important transferable skills and exposure to professional software applications that help prepare them for graduate studies or careers in archival administration and records management.

Student Interaction With Others at the Location

Practica students in Special Collections typically work closely with one of the faculty archivists in Special Collections and the Director of Special Collections. They work in an open space with other interns and student assistants completing assignments in Special Collections.