Internship focus: Increasing digital accessibility to state lithics collection
About the internship site
The University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) is a 60+ year-old research laboratory, library, and curation facility on the UI campus. OSA’s 22 staff members develop, disseminate, and preserve knowledge of Iowa’s human past through archaeological research, scientific discovery, public stewardship, service, and education.
About the internship
OSA has extensive information for almost 600 samples of stone, including their location in OSA’s comparative collections, locational (GIS-based) information on the material’s parent geological formation, high-quality photographs, and related metadata. In the early 2000s, OSA archaeologists developed an online catalog to publicly communicate this information and a Visual Basic Script (VBS) that identified up to 35 stone material possibilities. The VBS is now obsolete, but the web pages are frequently viewed by researchers and the interested public even though the current format is an unsearchable text, table, and image-based website lacking utility for either researcher or general public use. OSA needs a user-friendly digital interface to that allows people to browse and search this extensive archive of lithic (stone) raw material types found in Iowa.
OSA seeks an intern to lead the design planning process to create a digital interface that will disseminate information about the geological lithic resources of Iowa that were frequently used by Indigenous peoples. This interface will aid researchers in examinations of human-environment interactions, such as the ways in which ancient peoples utilized natural resources including lithic material. It will also serve as an educational resource for the interested public. The design planning process may include identifying potential grant sources or prototyping of a web application that involves GIS, basic coding, or querying archival information to view photographs and information, but ultimately, we require an intern to strategize the best path forward to digitally communicate this information to the public.
Intern’s work responsibilities
Responsibilities will include:
- Together with OSA staff, research and evaluate options for digital platforms through which to present the OSA lithic database in a visually engaging and easy-to-use format for professional researchers and the general public; research potential grant funds to support the project.
- Stakeholder Outreach – Meet with OSA staff and public stakeholders to learn more about is needed in terms of content and functionality for the planned digital platform. While many meetings will be over phone, email, there may be opportunities to make field visits.
- Participate in “lunch and learn” sessions that the supervisor will organize between OSA staff and the intern to learn more about OSA’s work.
Qualifications & skills preferred
- Interest in archives and collections, data visualization digital humanities, and research practices
- Ability to develop materials appropriate for public audiences and researchers
- Familiarity with or the desire to learn about the design and development of digital applications
- Ability to make “cold calls” and meet with a variety of stakeholders
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to work both independently and in close collaboration with colleagues
Reporting, location, & hours
This internship reports to Elizabeth Reetz, Director of Strategic Initiatives, and Caroline Parris, Research Collections Director, and is located in the Office of the State Archaeologist, 700 S. Clinton Street, Iowa City. This internship occurs during regular business hours.