Special Collections Research Center

Learning Lab

About the Learning Lab

The Learning Lab provides exactly the kinds of experience that a good internship should: hands on, real-world professional experience, practice working as part of a team, public speaking opportunities, and careful mentorship throughout.  The added bonus is that the work happens right here on campus, it involves fascinating research, and it is a paying gig.  I often tell students that they absolutely must apply to participate.  The Learning Lab is one of the best programs at UK!           
-Dr. Melanie Goan, History Department

Learning Lab interns in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin during their trip to present their research at the World Congress on Undergraduate Research at the University of Oldenburg in Oldenburg, Germany, during May 2019 
Learning Lab interns in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin during their travel to present their Learning Lab research at the World Congress on Undergraduate Research at the University of Oldenburg in Oldenburg, Germany, May 2019.

The UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center's Learning Lab promotes undergraduate research, scholarship, and creativity by offering mentored support for undergraduates to explore archival research. Undergraduates from any academic discipline are invited to build valuable skills in critical thought and analysis at the same time they gain practical hands-on experience assisting in preserving and providing access to unique and rare archival materials. This is a specialized program created to enhance student research skills and better prepare students for graduate school, professional research, and future careers.

Our paid internships target outstanding undergraduate students in all disciplines who want to enhance their studies through training in archival methods and theory. Interns will be mentored and taught to arrange and describe archival collections in their area of research interest and promote access to those collections in the broader academic community through creating collection guides, exhibits, and/or transcriptions. Interns will produce a final scholarly project--such as a poster, conference presentation, paper, or exhibit--reflecting on their research. Students are mentored throughout the year during this transformative and unique experience that puts rare archival materials in their hands for their own research. There is no other opportunity like this on campus.

Learning Lab successes:

  • All 11 students from the 2021-2022 cohort will present their research at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research, which will be held virtually.
  • All six students from the 2020-2021 cohort presented their research at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research, which was held virtually.
  • All eight students from the 2019-2020 cohort were accepted to present at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in Bozeman, Montana, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19.
  • In the 2018-2019 cohort, seven students presented at the World Congress on Undergraduate Research held at the University of Oldenburg in Oldenburg, Germany; nine students presented at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research held at Kennesaw State University.
  • All six students from the 2017-2018 cohort presented their research in national academic conferences such as National Conference of Undergraduate Research held at Oklahoma State University, and the American Chemical Society Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

My year spent with the James J. Guthrie collection was undoubtedly the best and most formative year of my college career. It was an honor and a privilege to become so closely acquainted with Guthrie and his Pear Tree Press, and I could not be more grateful for the invaluable experience this internship has given me as I pursue a career in museums and archives.  -Hayley Harlow, Learning Lab, 2017-2018; Art History & Visual Studies major, Class of 2018 

I always thought my 'eureka' moment would have to do with the sciences or in a scientific laboratory setting. But, no. This is my eureka. -Dealla Samadi, Learning Lab 2017-2018; Neuroscience, Biology, and French majors, Class of 2019

This past year at the Learning Lab I discovered the historical significance of archival analysis, and how the archives hold value for modern research. I learned to apply my passions and classroom experience to fuel my understanding to make my project my own. -Brandon Steele, Learning Lab, 2017-2018; Chemical Engineering major, Class of 2020

Become a Learning Lab intern and discover where your research will take you! Applications for the 2021-2022 cohort open March 14, 2022 and are due April 25, 2022.

The Special Collections Research Center Learning Lab is funded completely through private gifts through the Libraries' Enrichment Fund, which supports:

  • Faculty requests for special materials to support research and teaching
  • Exhibits and lectures that are open to the public
  • Facilities, technology and equipment
  • Matching funds to leverage other funding
  • Needs not funded by other sources

We are extremely grateful for the support of University of Kentucky alumni and friends who have made the funding for this important program possible.  When you make a gift to UK Libraries, you directly impact student learning and engagement. 

To learn more, visit UK Libraries giving page: http://libraries.uky.edu/Giving or call UK Libraries Director of Development at (859) 218-0707.

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