IMLS-RBS Fellowship Program


For information school students and early-career librarians, the path toward specialization and professionalization in special collections librarianship can seem both confusing and dauntingly competitive. At the same time, it is precisely this group that represents the future of the profession. Thanks to a grant from the Institute of Library and Museum Services, RBS offered the IMLS-RBS Fellowships for Early-Career Librarians to help address the needs of this community. This fellowship allowed young professionals to attend an RBS course and to increase their professional involvement at the national level through participation in the conference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the ALA. The aim of the program was to help fellows acquire skills relevant to professional work in special collections and build important professional networks. The program admitted its final cohort of fellows in 2016; the RBS-RBMS Diversity Fellowship serves as a successor program.

Building on the existing opportunities for learning and network-building at RBS and RBMS, this program aimed to attract to the field early-career librarians with excellent potential for professional achievement. RBS awarded the first 20 fellowships in 2015 and the second cohort of 20 in 2016. Although the fellowship program was open to applicants from any racial or ethnic background, it had a special emphasis on recruiting participants currently underrepresented in the field of rare book librarianship.

Financial Support

Fellows attended a course at RBS for free, received a year’s membership in RBMS, and a stipend for covering the costs of travel and housing at RBS and the RBMS conference.

IMLS-RBS Fellowship Program Components

During their fellowship tenure, IMLS-RBS Fellows received intensive, hands-on training at RBS and pursued further learning opportunities offered as part of RBMS’s annual conference. Through these activities, IMLS-RBS Fellows entered into a professional community of likeminded individuals interested in special collections librarianship. The fellowship program included the following benefits:

  • One week-long, 30-hour course at Rare Book School (contingent upon acceptance into the course by the instructor; admission is competitive)
  • One-year’s membership in RBMS
  • Registration fees for the RBMS conference the year of the fellowship
  • A stipend covering the cost of travel and housing at RBS and at RBMS

IMLS-RBS Fellows

2016 Fellows

Twenty IMLS-RBS fellowships for 2016 were awarded in January 2016. (Press release)

2015 Fellows

Twenty IMLS-RBS fellowships for 2015 were awarded in February 2015. (Press release)