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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 is introducing a new program, the IMLS-RBS Fellowships for Early-Career Librarians, that will help address the needs of this community. This fellowship will allow 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 is to help fellows acquire skills relevant to professional work in special collections and build important professional networks.

Building on the existing opportunities for learning and network-building at RBS and RBMS, this program aims to attract to the field early-career librarians with excellent potential for professional achievement. RBS will award 20 fellowships in 2015 and an additional 20 in 2016. Although the fellowship program is open to applicants from any racial or ethnic background, it does have a special emphasis on recruiting participants currently underrepresented in the field of rare book librarianship.

Financial Support

Fellows attend a course at RBS for free (tuition is currently $1,195 or $1,295, depending on the course), receive a year's membership in RBMS, and a stipend for covering the costs of travel and housing at RBS and the RBMS preconference.

IMLS-RBS Fellowship Program Components

During their fellowship tenure, IMLS-RBS Fellows will receive intensive, hands-on training at RBS and may pursue further learning opportunities offered as part of RBMS's annual conference. Through these activities, IMLS-RBS Fellows will enter into a professional community of likeminded individuals interested in special collections librarianship. The fellowship program includes the following benefits:

Application Process

We are now accepting applications for the IMLS-RBS Fellowship. To begin the application process, please log into your myRBS account (or create a new myRBS account). On the Home screen, click the "Apply for a Scholarship or Fellowship" button on the left side of the page. If you have trouble with myRBS, see the FAQ page or email rbs_programs@virginia.edu.The deadline for application is 5 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, 15 October 2014.

Preference will be given to applicants who:

A total of twenty IMLS-RBS Fellows will be selected; successful applicants will be notified on or around 5 January 2015.


To be eligible for the 2015 IMLS-RBS Fellowship, as of 15 October 2014 an applicant must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States and must:

Applicants must be able to take an RBS course during the year of their fellowship, contingent upon their admission to the course, and will be expected to attend the RBMS preconference the same year. NB: the 2015 conference will be held in Oakland and Berkeley, CA.

The following classes of applicants are ineligible for an IMLS-RBS Fellowship:

IMLS-RBS Fellows

2015 Fellows

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