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The Special Collections Research Center’s Learning Lab is a paid internship opportunity for intellectually curious undergraduates from all disciplines. Interns pursue individual, long-term research projects involving rare and unique archival materials from our collections, building invaluable skills under close mentorship and training from our archivists in a transformative, unique experience unlike any other available on campus.

Scheduling & Structure

Applications for the Learning Lab are accepted annually in the spring.

  • Internships run from August to April.
  • Students work up to 10 hours/week.
  • Pay is $11 an hour.

First Semester: Interns learn archival research methods and theory and gain practical, hands-on experience preserving and promoting access to archival materials within their research interest.

Second Semester: Interns study primary source materials in their chosen collection, chart a research path, and disseminate their findings through a research project of their own design. View a selection of past projects.

Female student reading a manuscript in the Learning Lab.

Undergrads take their research to the next level in the Learning Lab.

Hands turning the pages of a hand-written document

Learning Lab interns work with a variety of primary source materials.

Learning Lab Collections

Learning Lab interns work intimately with a special collection of their choice. The possibilities are as diverse as our holdings. Past collections include:

Every spring, we post collections that prospective interns can work with over the following year. These are not an exhaustive list, but are meant to inspire.  We want you to be creative in your research, so if there's a collection you've discovered that you'd like to work with, let us know.

Intern Projects

The Learning Lab targets outstanding, self-driven, and intellectually curious undergraduates from all disciplines. No matter your chosen field of study, you will encounter materials that challenge and inspire you, and help you build confidence and skills that are applicable to any discipline or career. 

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

Your project is limited only by your creativity. Past projects have included exhibitions, research tools, digital humanities projects, articles published in peer-reviewed journals, and posters or presentations at national and international conferences. The Learning Lab is an opportunity to dream big, think outside the box, and recast the remnants of the past into new and transformational insights. 

Learning Lab interns in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.

Learning Lab interns in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin during the World Congress on Undergraduate Research in Oldenburg, Germany, May 2019.

Two female students look at a rare book in the Great Hall.

Peer mentoring and support is a huge benefit to Learning Lab interns.

Benefits

The Learning Lab is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to be a part of a supportive peer environment, build a learning community centered around research, and receive individual mentoring over the course of a year-long project.

Our interns leave the Learning Lab better prepared for graduate school and professional life, gaining experience and skills applicable to any discipline or career and improving their critical thinking and analytical skills.

We also provide resume and cover letter help and up to $500 in travel costs for students who are invited to present their scholarly work at conferences.

There are so many things I enjoy about the Learning Lab. The opportunity to conduct my own research with material literally from hundreds of years ago, getting to work with such smart and impressive other interns, and our mentor, a literal lifesaver, who I couldn’t be more thankful is in charge of the program. – Aaron Shrout, Learning Lab 2020-2021; Economics major, Class of 2023

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, Neuroscience, Biology, and French majors, Class of 2019
Learning Lab 2017-2018

Support the Learning Lab

The Learning Lab is funded completely through private gifts through the Libraries' Enrichment Fund. We are extremely grateful for the support of UK alumni and friends who have made the funding for this important program possible.

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