Student Employment with Special Collections Offers Discovery and Development


Madison Good holding a book in front of a shelf of books.
Madison Good

Although Madison Good didn’t set out with the intention of working with University Libraries’ Special Collections, she has become a valuable addition to and an ardent supporter of the department. 

“To be completely honest, I just kind of lucked out,” she said. “I wasn't aware of the Special Collections at Ohio State or even of the special collections field as a whole, but I knew I wanted a position working in a library.” 

While searching for student library jobs, the fourth-year English literature major discovered an opening for a Special Collections student assistant. In order to better understand the role to which she’d be applying, Good began researching Ohio State’s Special Collections. 

“I was really fascinated by what I found,” she said. “I kind of figured that Ohio State probably had some medieval manuscripts or something else fun stashed away, but I was so excited to learn that we had such a broad scope of collections that were so readily accessible to anyone.” 

Now actively working in the role, Good performs duties including assisting patrons with requests or hosting scholars in the Special Collections Reading Room. 

“I learn something new every day,” said Good. “Whether it's rediscovering collections that no one has looked at in a decade or longer, learning what our patrons are researching or just learning about a cool new resource, it's all fascinating.” 

“I've been able to see behind the scenes of how things operate and learn the processes that keep everything running smoothly,” she continued. “I've also been able to learn a bit about conservation practices and caring for objects, which is a part of the library field that I'm personally really interested in.” 

Rebecca Jewett, Good’s supervisor and the Special Collections public services coordinator, said that student employment with Special Collections helps build valuable and transferrable job skills.  

“Students in our reading room develop customer service and research skills,” said Jewett. “We have many types of positions in Special Collections that can involve other things like support of exhibit preparation, creation of social media content, shelving, digitizing of our collections and metadata creation, to name a few.” 

“Our students all have a genuine passion for learning and an intense curiosity,” she continued. “On any given day they may discover something new in our collections that they find cool or interesting. It’s fun to see their excitement when they discover something unique, and that something could be a modern-day artist book, a 16th century manuscript or a Batman movie script.” 

Jewett noted that Good has been a particularly successful student employee. 

“Madison brings a level of professionalism to her role,” she said. “She always goes above and beyond what is asked of her. She’s extremely organized, has a wonderful work ethic, and she has a positive attitude.” 

The experience working in Special Collections and the glowing recognition from her supervisor are of particular importance to Good, whose long-term career goals align with her current work. 

“During the pandemic I started to shift my ideas about what I wanted to do with my life,” said Good. “I ended up going back to my childhood dream of working in library sciences. Working in this position has reaffirmed that, yes, I do want to do this for the foreseeable future and has really helped me feel comfortable working in a library setting. I currently plan to go to graduate school for my Master of Library and Information Sciences and hopefully get a position working at a public library in or around Columbus.” 

According to Jewett, helping student employees realize their potential and prepare for a career is her goal. 

“Many of our previous student employees have gone on to library-related careers,” she explained. “My goal as a supervisor is to prepare students for future employment, while meeting the current everyday demands of our jobs. I try to find the balance between providing the proper training and support, while allowing students to grow, problem solve and show what they are capable of.” 

While Good’s future looks bright, for now she continues to enjoy the everyday discoveries that her position with Special Collections provides. 

“If you have something, anything, you're interested in, either for academic or personal purposes, we probably have something for you,” she enthused. “Cookbooks? We have thousands. Theater dioramas? Got those. Medieval manuscripts? One of the best collections in North America. Materials relating to UFOs, Scientology or the FBI? All of it and so much more, all for free, and all available to anyone who wants to look at them.” 

For more information on student employment with University Libraries, visit the student jobs page. You can also learn more about our Special Collections on our website.