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University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections

Chattanooga, TN
Type of practicum: 

In Person

Description of Practicum Site: 

“The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections is responsible for acquiring, processing, digitizing, and preserving unique, primary source materials. In particular, the materials focus on the university, Chattanooga, the state of Tennessee, and the American South.

Special Collections is a team of three librarians and up to 25 student assistants, interns, and volunteers working in a collaborative environment that stresses a standards-based approach to the acquisition, processing, and digitization of rare books, manuscripts, and university archives. Special Collections consists of the George C. Connor Reading Room, the Joseph Jackson Visiting Scholar Room, digitization and processing room, and a climate-controlled secure stacks consisting of compact and fixed shelving and flat file cabinets. Special Collections houses more than 2,500 linear feet of manuscript and archival material and more than 13,000 books and theses. Additionally, Special Collections manages digital repositories powered by ArchivesSpace, CONTENTdm, and Digital Commons by working collaboratively with Library IT and Collections Services as well as campus partners and vendors. “

Description of Practicum Duties: 

“Practicum students play a critical role in Special Collections by helping the repository create digital collections, finding aids, and exhibits of cultural heritage resources. duties may include:

  • arranging and describing archival collections;
  • authoring biographical and historical notes that provide context for archival materials;
  • conducting oral history interviews;
  • transcribing audio and video assets;
  • creating descriptive metadata in a spreadsheet;
  • using scanners and cameras to digitize archival materials and rare books;
  • conducting research and writing narratives for grant applications;
  • and developing exhibitions, blog posts, and other outreach initiatives.

Special Collections prides itself on producing professional, standards-based access points for materials, using technology and software commonly found in archival repositories, including ArchivesSpace, CONTENTdm, and Digital Commons. Students are expected to follow documented local best practices as well as international standards including:

  • Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
  • Resource Description and Access (RDA)
  • Technical specifications from the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI)”