Compass Award

Internship Description 

The Compass Award supports an internship which provides financial and professional support for new and early-career colleagues in the arts information field.  The award is open to individuals who identify as racialized. The experiences they bring to the internship will broaden perspectives in the field of art, architecture, special collections, and museum libraries and archives.  While eligibility does not require a degree in an arts-related field, the internship experience must focus on information in the arts.

The award will support the completion of a project as proposed by the applicant. The project may be research-oriented or fall in the scope of a creative endeavor and may be conducted in-person, virtually, or hybrid. The proposed work will be carried out under the guidance of a mentor.  The mentor is expected to advise the mentee and establish a network of support. The internship will entail 225 to 300 hours of work over a twelve-to-fifteen-week period.  Ideally, the applicant will identify a mentor, and if germane to the project, a relevant institution. Responsibilities for the internship experience, including its scope, hours, and product, will be determined by the intern awardee in collaboration with the mentor and/or the supporting institution.  The Compass Award Committee is available to answer questions throughout the duration of the internship and for consultation should challenges arise.

The award includes a one-year membership in ARLIS/NA.

Administration and Adjudication

The Compass Award Subcommittee will administer and adjudicate the award.  The Awards Committee chair appoints the chair and members of the sub-committee. The committee consists of no fewer than three members, the majority of whom self-identify as having lived experience reflecting the diversity of our communities (race, ethnicity, gender, etc.), and one member is preferably from ArLiSNAP.  

There will be an annual call for proposals from applicants.  The Compass Award Subcommittee will evaluate applications within six weeks and will ask the awardee to provide acceptance within a month. If the award is declined, the committee will offer the award to an alternate recipient. The committee chair will then notify those not accepted and offer constructive feedback when requested.

The committee will evaluate the applications based on the focused expectations of the project.  Applicants are not required to have a predetermined institution or arranged mentor. The Compass Award Committee is not responsible for matching candidates with an institution or mentor but will assist with the process if requested. The mentor does not necessarily have to be affiliated with the institution.

Upon the awardee's acceptance of the award, the committee will announce the recipient on the ARLIS/NA listserv and arrange for the recipient to be acknowledged at the Convocation of the annual conference. 

Half of the award will be granted directly to the intern prior to the internship. The remainder will be granted upon completion of the internship and receipt of a letter to the Chair of the Compass Award Subcommittee signed by the internship supervisor and intern stating that the project has been completed or sufficient progress has been made.  It is recommended that the committee check in with the mentor and mentee individually at a midpoint in the proposed timeline to respond to any questions or concerns. As a learning experience, the project may change over time and the original intent may not be realized. The committee further recognizes that sometimes award recipients must leave internships early to pursue professional opportunities. These situations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

To contribute to continuous improvement, within one month of the completion of the internship, the chair of the subcommittee will facilitate an exit interview or survey with both mentor and mentee separately. The subcommittee will develop the questions and review the findings. In addition, the subcommittee should evaluate the administration and adjudication of the award and suggest any changes to the Executive Board.

Application and Deadlines

The call for proposals will be released each year no later than September 15 with a deadline of November 1. The deadline shall be definite. The awardee shall be selected by mid-December. The internship will be carried out in the following calendar year.

The deadline for submission of the letter from the intern and mentor indicating completion of the internship will be within 30 days of the completion of the internship.

How to Apply

On or before November 1 (11:59pm Eastern Time), please submit the following in your application to EMAIL address with SUBJECT LINE: Compass Award Application


  • Resume

  • Unofficial transcript or letter from Registrar confirming your attendance/graduation from an accredited information studies program or equivalent

  • Statement of eligibility* (maximum: 100 words) 

  • Statement of purpose** (maximum: 500 words) 


  • A brief letter from your mentor, if you have liaised with one already, indicating their availability. 

* Statement of eligibility:

  • Demonstrate that you are a library or archival science graduate student, recent graduate, or early career information specialist (within three years of graduation).

  • Share how you self-identify as a member of a racialized group including, but not limited to, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, or ethnic minority communities.

** Statement of Purpose:

  • Summarize the project, including its goals or objectives, why you are interested, what you will bring to the project, and how you envision the internship will impact your career.  Include a timeline or plan indicating the dates of the internship and expected progress points. Indicate your prospective institution, if appropriate to your project.

  • Deliverables or outcomes you may wish to explore: 

    • Skills (e.g., cataloging or instruction)

    • Relationships (e.g., community outreach or community engagement)

    • Conference Poster (e.g., ARLIS/NA conference) 

    • Article (e.g., Art Documentation)

    • Zine creation or alternative forms of publication