Internships that preserve collections: A gift from Albert Somit

As the 2013 Mary and Samuel Somit Preservation Intern at the University of Chicago Library, William Schlaack spent six weeks this summer helping staff to prepare for a broad range of potential challenges. Deliberating with Preservation Librarian Sherry Byrne and Head of Conservation Ann Lindsey, Schlaack assisted in crafting a response and recovery plan to ensure that the Library’s physical collections are protected and properly treated in the event of an emergency.

William Schlaack exchanges ideas on best preservation practices with Head of Conservation Ann Lindsey.

William Schlaack exchanges ideas on best preservation practices with Head of Conservation Ann Lindsey.

Thanks to the generous gift of Dr. Albert Somit, AB’41, PhD’47, the Somit Preservation Internship provides a hands-on experience for students entering the fields of preservation, digitization, and conservation, complementing the classroom education they receive in academic programs. Throughout a long career as a professor, Executive Vice President of SUNY–Buffalo, and eventually President of Southern Illinois University, Dr. Somit has believed firmly in providing growth opportunities for students that have an immediate impact on the students as well as their host institutions.

By creating this endowed internship, Dr. Somit has helped the Library to sustain its collections into the future and has provided students like Schlaack with an excellent opportunity to launch their careers. “I have learned an extraordinary amount,” said Schlaack, “regarding not only preservation administration but also how to be an effective and collaborative librarian in a world-class institution.”

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