Announcing the 2021-22 Design Lab Residency!

The University of Michigan Library's Shapiro Design Lab seeks to hire multiple graduate students for its 2021-22 Residency program. The Residency is a graduate student peer learning community that focuses on developing student-led projects that not only offers graduate students support for new and ongoing projects, but also situates them in a dynamic learning community comprised of students from across the University.

(If you’re an undergraduate student and interested in working in the Design Lab, please see the posting for our Intern program!)

New to the program this year, students from the U-M Flint and U-M Dearborn campuses are eligible to apply.

Residents can be Masters or PhD graduate students at any stage of their graduate education. Resident proposals should align with the Design Lab’s principles and fall under one of the Design Lab’s current project themes:

Disability Culture // Accessibility

These projects should focus on improving accessibility through a piece of technology, making a piece of technology more accessible, or, more broadly, advance the development of Disability Culture at the University of Michigan’s three campuses and/or the wider community of disability advocates and activists in the region.

Audio Storytelling // Podcasting

These projects should involve either making a single long-form audio story or an ongoing, multi-episode podcast, from pre-production (idea development, storyboarding) to production (recording interviews, narration) to post-production (editing and sound design) to finally distribution on the web and/or the various podcasting platforms. 

Community Knowledge Partnerships 

These projects should involve a sustained engagement and/or partnership with communities beyond the University of Michigan, whether local communities in Ann Arbor, communities in the wider state/region, or virtual communities online. This should not just be one-directional “public engagement” but rather prioritize and center the communities’ knowledge and lived experiences in how the project is developed and implemented.

Here are some examples of projects that Design Lab students and staff have worked on over the past five years: 

  • an online forum on how libraries and museums can better support environmental justice community activists
  • exploring and creating workflows for more accessible gaming hardware 
  • creative projects like podcasts, magazines, visual art, and other forms of media on a wide variety of topics
  • developing a mobile game to educate players about climate change
  • assisting with the repatriation of Indigenous materials
  • crowdsourcing transcription projects on the Zooniverse platform with materials from the U-M Library's Orson Welles Collection, La Brea Tar Pits, University of Michigan Biological Station, and more
  • exploring and creating tactile maps, diagrams, and images for greater accessibility

If you are proposing a project that has more involved or elaborate technological components (for instance, an app, a digital archive, or a piece of hardware) you should have an idea on how these can be created and the labor involved in doing so. We recognize, though, that powerful and important projects can start from many different kinds of experience and expertise, so not knowing exactly how something is created shouldn’t stop you from applying. In addition, we also recognize the value of so-called “low-tech” projects that could focus, for instance, on facilitating communication across different groups to better address a community need, and would welcome Residency proposals in this vein. If you have questions about whether your project could fit into the Residency, don’t hesitate to email us at

Position Responsibilities

Develop and/or refine a project in the Design Lab over the course of AY20-21 (Residents who fulfill the program responsibilities the first year will have the option of continuing to work on another phase of the project in subsequent years).

  • Work a minimum of 10 hours per week, up to a maximum of 15 hours per week at $16/hour. 
  • Participate in meetings with the rest of the Design Lab community every two weeks
  • Share your project progress with fellow Residents, the Design Lab community, and (where applicable) on the Lab’s blog, Lab Notes
  • Provide peer consultation and instruction to fellow Design Lab members and those who utilize our spaces + tools 

Given the shifting reality of living, learning, and working during a pandemic, much of the activities outlined above could be done virtually, with in-person work and meetings occ when safety and conditions allow.


  • Alignment with the Design Lab’s principles 
  • Interest, background, and/or experience in one or more of the three project areas of the Design Lab listed above
  • Interest in and/or experience with peer learning and interdisciplinary collaboration 
  • Demonstrated ability to meet commitments and follow a work plan
  • Effective and prompt communication across multiple media
  • Interest in collaborating with individuals from a diversity of backgrounds, cultures, and viewpoints
  • Demonstrated ability to be self-motivated and work independently"
  • Ability to respond to changing needs within a project and with the Design Lab overall, given its exploratory and experimental character

To apply, please fill out the online application by September 20, 2021. We will review applications as they are received and will conduct rolling interviews until that date. If you have any questions, please reach out to