Mellon Foundation Awards $563,000 in Support of Graduate Student Internships

NEW YORK, June 29, 2007 Columbia University Libraries has received a $563,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a three-year pilot project that will award a series of internships to graduate students to collaborate with librarians in the organization and description of primary source collections. The project is scheduled to begin July 1, 2007.

With 36 internship positions over the next three years, the total project expects to process approximately 2,593 linear feet of previously inaccessible collections, making Columbia’s “hidden collections” visible.

“With this project, libraries and the academic programs they serve will partner to advance their respective missions – improving access to collections and strengthening graduate education,” said James G. Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian. “We are enormously grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this opportunity to further those goals.”

The internships will benefit the Columbia community as well as researchers, scholars and educators worldwide. By facilitating the processing of Columbia’s large special collections, the project addresses the need to provide timely access to Columbia’s primary source collections that require processing and preservation to make them available for research and learning.

At the same time, graduate students enhance their knowledge of primary sources relevant to their own work and learn to understand the nature, origin, and uses of primary sources in ways that would have been impossible without the internships. This will allow them to better structure research projects and better evaluate sources used.

“As a historian, I am always delighted to see an initiative that helps make original materials available to scholars while giving graduate students valuable training in the use of primary resources. As provost, I am very grateful to the Mellon Foundation for supporting this project,” said Alan Brinkley, Provost and Allan Nevins Professor of American History at Columbia University.

The project will include primary source collections from three major units of the Columbia Libraries system: the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, and the Burke Library of the Union Theological Seminary.

Three of Columbia University’s schools will also participate: the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Journalism, and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. The 3-year program would allow for 8 graduate students the first year, 12 for the second year, and 16 during the final year.

Internships will be awarded on a competitive basis, with students submitting formal applications that will be reviewed and evaluated by a search panel. Successful applicants will be matched with collections in their fields of specialization, thus allowing them to learn from and contribute their own expertise to the organization of collections.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

06/29/07 LMK