Have a Waco summer: Consider Baylor Libraries internships

The eight interns accepted into the program will be completing 300 required hours over the summer months. Mesha Mittanasala | Photographer

By Piper Rutherford | Staff Writer

Baylor Libraries is calling all students with a background and interest in the arts, history, political science, religion and museums to stay in Waco this summer and learn to handle archival material and primary sources. Applications close Thursday and can be found on the Baylor Libraries website.

Jeff Pirtle, director of the Texas Collection, said Baylor Libraries has eight summer endowed intern positions. Students will work across the special collection libraries on campus, including the Texas Collection, the W.R. Poage Library, the Institute for Oral History and the Keston Center for Religion, Politics and Society.

“The eight total interns accepted into the program will be completing 300 required hours with us over the summer months,” Pirtle said. “As for the endowed scholarship, for undergraduates, it is $3,000, while for graduate students, it is $4,500.”

Pirtle said the day in the life varies for interns depending on where they are placed.

“For instance, the one in W.R. Poage Library involves hosting the iEngage summer workshop, where we partner with the School of Education to host elementary and middle school-aged students to help teach them about civic lessons and participation in American democracy,” Pirtle said. “While in the Texas Collection, an intern will spend a lot of their time working on backlog collections and monitoring the reading room.”

Similarly, Kathy Hillman, director of the Keston Center for Religion, Politics and Society, said those under her wing will process materials dealing with religious persecution under communist and totalitarian regimes.

“A few years ago, one of our interns was processing the papers of Michael Bourdeaux, the founder of Keston Library,” Hillman said. “While doing so, he stumbled upon correspondence between Bourdeaux and Britain’s prime minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher.”

Apart from experiences like these, Pirtle said what is most advantageous about the internship is that it helps students become more comfortable in archival libraries and prepares them for a career in the field after graduation.

“Sometimes people can be intimidated by going into these libraries with old maps and manuscripts, where you have to wear gloves when handling the material,” Pirtle said. “However, this internship opportunity allows for these students to normalize and demystify special collection libraries, while also developing a deeper understanding for their importance and greater value.”

Pirtle said students should go into the application process with an open mindset about where they might land, while Hillman advised students to make their resume and letter as broad as possible so that they have a greater chance of being one of the eight students selected.

“Do not just zero in on ‘I only want to work in the marketing and communications area’ or ‘I only want to be in the Texas Collection,’ because you do not know what you will end up liking in the end,” Hillman said. “We had one previous intern who said she was a camp counselor for children on her resume, and we needed interns to work with the Poage Library for the iEngage program, which she ended up being perfect for.”