Preservation Laboratory Student Assistant

Special Collections & Archives
Special Collections & Archives Technical Services
Michael Don Fraser, Library Technician II
Rate of pay
Position type
No public contact
Number of positions available
Scheduled hours

The Preservation Laboratory Student Assistant position is scheduled between 10 and 15 hours per week during regular operating hours of Special Collections and Archives.

Currently, operating hours
Monday - Thursday, 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
Friday,  9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Scheduled shifts are dependent on student assistant’s availability and the operational priorities and needs of the division and/or department. Schedules will be agreed upon at the start of each academic term and will be structured to accommodate the student’s academic schedules.

Purpose of the position

Preservation Laboratory Student Assistants perform activities that aim to prolong the life of library and archival materials. They participate in collection preservation efforts, assist Special Collections and Archives staff in large projects, and provide general support to Technical Services and the Special Collections and Archives Division as a whole.

Duties & responsibilities

Preservation Laboratory Student Assistants conduct general book and paper repair, on materials owned by University Libraries, as assigned. These repairs follow detailed prescribed procedures and standards, as established by the Library Management. Once hired, students receive highly specialized training in proper library conservation techniques and theory.

Conservation procedures include:

  • Page and document repair
  • Paper cleaning
  • Paper reinforcement
  • Chemical treatments (de-acidification)
  • Preparing objects for exhibit
  • Hand book re-binding / book repair
  • Reinforcement of existing bindings
  • Spine replacements of books
  • Construction of archival protective enclosures and boxes
  • Encapsulation

Division support activities include:

  • Collect temperature and relative humidity readings
  • Maintain archival supply inventories / assist with ordering
  • Generate preservation reports
  • Assist in creating inventories (spreadsheets) of archival collection material
  • Respond to immediate/basic conservation needs of collection materials, as they arise
  • Rehouse collections in archival folders and boxes
  • Carry boxes (up to 40 pounds) up ladders to place them on shelves
  • Assist in transferring digital files from optical discs, floppy disks, and external hard drives to the networked server
  • Assist Public Services department on an emergency basis
  • Other duties as assigned

In case of a library disaster, Student Assistants will assist in the salvaging of library materials.
Students Assistants will follow all laboratory and safety protocols at all times.


Working conditions

The Preservation Laboratory is a dynamic workspace with unique and highly specialized equipment and supplies. Some heavy equipment can be hazardous without proper training. Treatment of archival materials may include the use of chemicals, and exposure to mold and dust. To avoid exposure, safety equipment and protocols are used.  

A majority of laboratory work is performed at a workbench.
Manual dexterity is required with frequent and repetitive use of hands.  
Simple grasping and excellent small motor skills are required.  
Physical demands of the job include:  

  • Occasional walking
  • Bending/twisting of the neck and waist
  • Standing, Squatting, Climbing, Kneeling, Crawling, Reaching
  • Lifting and moving materials weighing up to 40 pounds
  • Maneuvering book trucks weighing up to 100 lbs

Other demands include:

  • Sitting at a computer screen
  • Capable of reading labels and shelf reading

Special Collections and Archives is a research institution with a diverse collection, representing a vast array of viewpoints. In service of this collection, Preservation Laboratory Student Assistants may be exposed to books, writings, photographic images, artwork, and recordings that they may find personally objectionable…due to their philosophical, political, religious, or sexually explicit content. Students Assistants are NOT required to conduct work on any material, they find objectionable. However, they will be expected to voice their objections in a timely manner and participate in productive dialog, in order to be given a different project or assignment.  



  • Strong attention to detail and ability to follow directions
  • Effective communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills
  • Demonstrated leadership in group projects / group participation
  • Ability to learn new concepts and technologies quickly
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office tools (Word, Excel, etc.)
  • Perform independently and able to remain flexible when changes are needed
  • Ability to lift up to 40 pounds
  • Ability to push and pull fully loaded book trucks weighing up to 100lbs


  • Proficiency in Adobe Photoshop or Publisher
  • Experience with spreadsheets and databases
  • Experience working in a library environment a plus
  • Some experience in art or engineering a plus
  • Some customer service experience a plus

Prior experience in library conservation techniques and theory is NOT expected or required.
All training will be provided.


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