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The Robert A. and Ruth Bywater Olson Graduate Research Assistantship

The University of Iowa Libraries


The Robert A. and Ruth Bywater Olson 2014-2016 Graduate Research Assistantship

Special Collections & University Archives

One Olson Graduate Research Assistant is selected each spring and offered a two-fiscal-year 50% (20 hr/week) graduate research assistant appointment. As a graduate assistant, the incumbent earns a full-year stipend, qualifies for health insurance benefits and a full tuition scholarship at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences resident rate ($4,126/semester or $8,242/AY). Graduate assistants must continue to be enrolled as students and forfeit the assistantship should they withdraw or graduate.

The terms and conditions of employment in this position, including but not limited to wages and benefits, are governed by a collective bargaining agreement between the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, and UE Local 896/COGS, the union representing graduate teaching and research assistants at the University of Iowa. A copy of this collective bargaining agreement may be viewed from the University web site:

Each incoming graduate research assistant will become familiar with all aspects of the operations of the Special Collections department and during their first year will take on a number of specific projects that involve rare books, manuscripts, and archival records. Their work will include assisting readers, answering queries, and locating materials. Projects may include bibliographic research, organization and description of collections, curating exhibitions, and participating in instruction and outreach activities.

In the second year of their appointments, Olson Graduate Research Assistants will build on the experiences they have had in the first, and they will take on more explicit management roles. Their first assignment, for example, will be to orient and train the incoming Olson Graduate Research Assistant. They will also design and supervise projects that include other student assistants. Graduate research assistants are expected to make reasonable progress toward the academic goals they outline in their applications. They will be encouraged to take part in professional activities by attending meetings and conferences such as RBMS, MAC, SAA, ALA, ILA, or SHARP, a course at Rare Book School, or appropriate scholarly conferences. To support this, they will be guaranteed $1000 each year to underwrite travel or conference expenses.

Olson Graduate Research Assistants are selected by competition. This competition is open to incoming students who have been accepted into a graduate degree program, as well as students who are currently enrolled in a graduate degree program. Students in the School of Library and Information Science, in the University of Iowa Center for the Book, or the English, History, American Studies, and Art & Art History programs may have particular interest, but applications from students in any graduate program will be carefully considered.

Each candidate must submit a résumé and a statement outlining their academic and career aspirations and describing how appointment as an Olson Graduate Research Assistant would specifically forward those aspirations. The statement is particularly important and should not exceed three (3) typed pages (about 1000 words). Contact information for one or two references who can speak to the candidate’s academic and career aspirations should also be submitted. Materials should be submitted in PDF or Word format as attachments to the email address

Applications for the 2014-2016 Graduate Research Assistantship will be accepted beginning immediately and must be submitted not later than 5 p.m. Monday, April 14, 2014. A small number of candidates will be interviewed by Special Collections staff in April or early May. The 2014-2016 Olson Graduate Research Assistant is expected to begin work on July 1, 2014, or at a subsequent mutually agreed upon date.

Refer questions and submit applications to: Patrick Olson, Special Collections Librarian, Special Collections & University Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, IA, 52242-1420 (319-384-2228), Attachments to email are preferred.