Project SEARCH at Iowa State University


Over the last few months, our preservation lab has had some new faces working alongside the full time staff. Earlier this summer, the Iowa State University Library decided to begin a relationship with the Project SEARCH program. Project SEARCH is a worldwide program that creates work experiences and training for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The project began in 1996 at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and has been continuing ever since. Participants work in a nine-month unpaid internship where they will learn job skills from three different jobs. The positions are in a real work environment, so that participants can learn how to gain and maintain paying long-term employment in their community. Project SEARCH first came to Iowa in 2011, and since then has been introduced to fourteen locations across the state.


Current Project SEARCH intern Shyanne working on surface cleaning documents in the preservation lab.

While working in the preservation lab, participants have worked closely with Lennox Foundation Intern Cynthia Kapteyn and Conservation Treatment Assistant Mindy Moeller on a number of different tasks throughout the lab. The participants have removed staples from documents, cut folders, worked on book prep by cutting book cloth and linen, cleaned documents, and sorted supplies. So far, the lab has had two interns this year. Each participant is different, so the tasks are adjusted to each person’s skill level. The hands on experience, mentor program, and weekly evaluations help the participants develop skills they may need in future employment opportunities. After finishing their rotation in the preservation lab, they are moved to another area in the library to start their next rotation. Multiple departments in the library are participating in the program, allowing for participants to gain skills from several different types of jobs, from preservation to office work. While this is the first time the university library has been involved with the program, other locations on campus have worked with Project SEARCH before.

For more information on Project SEARCH, check out their website!

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