Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘internship

Some Upcoming Projects

with 4 comments

With a more relaxed schedule (I am on winter break until mid-January), I have been able to spend some time planning for the spring semester. Here are some different things I’ll be working on:

  • Three different interviews for my C&RL News Job of a Lifetime column for 2011 – featuring an Outreach Services Librarian, a Research & Development Librarian, and a librarian from ipl2. As soon as the columns are published I will be sure to link to them here. And as always, if you or someone you know has the job of a lifetime, contact me!
  • Over the summer I started working on a collaborative research project and just this week finished the data collection stages with my research partners. We’re doing a content analysis of select academic library websites in order to investigate the unintended messages created by design decisions and use of space. I have had the pleasure of working with a friend (and mentor) and am looking forward to our analysis over the next month. We hope to have some conclusions published in a peer reviewed journal sometime in the future.
  • This summer I will be supervising my first LIS student intern from Rutgers University. Over the past few weeks I have been working with her to put together an internship plan of work (taking into account all of your fabulous comments from my previous post on library internships for undergrads!). It’s a work in progress at the moment, but I’m hoping to give her some projects relating to outreach regarding the renovation (slated to start in fall 2011), information literacy (possibly teaching a few sessions), research assistance (at the help desk) and social media things. She has a background in PR and is a fantastic writer, so I might also try to find communication/design projects as well. I am really looking forward to working with her, and I think I will end up learning a lot as well.
  • I’m going to have another undergraduate intern from Millersville this spring (my third!) so I have been putting together some projects for him as well. He’s going to be shadowing me at the research help desk and in instruction sessions. I think he is also going to work on some writing projects for our Renovation Website (particularly showcasing different issues from an informed student perspective). And informational interviews to learn more about the field of librarianship.
  • Only two creative writing workshops and my thesis project stand between me and my second master’s degree! This spring I am taking a poetry workshop with Kim Bridgford (who has also kindly agreed to be my thesis committee advisor). I am beyond excited to work with her in the coming months. Our required texts include Archaic Smile: Poems by A. E. Stallings, Murano by Mark Doty, Playing At Stillness by Rhina P. Espaillat and Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove. Have you read any of them?

So what projects do you have planned for the upcoming months?  Also, does anyone have advice for supervising an LIS student intern? I want to make sure this is a valuable and productive experience for everyone.

Written by Erin Dorney

January 3, 2011 at 7:40 PM

Library internships for undergrads?

with 8 comments

CC image courtesy of Leeni! on Flickr


By my junior year of college, I knew that I wanted to continue on to graduate school to earn my MS in Library and Information Science. Because I was pretty set with my degree requirements, I completed two library internships during my senior year (at this time I was also working part time at my undergraduate library). I knew that having experience in multiple libraries would give me a solid background to inform my graduate studies. I was also interested to see if the organizational phenomena I observed within one library was typical of all/other libraries (I have found the answer to be yes, more on that later, perhaps).

I was incredibly lucky to find a mentor* at RIT Libraries who has truly been one of the most influential in my life. I spent my time learning about the importance of marketing in libraries, honing my design skills, learning about the inner workings of an academic library (my work space was within the Director’s Suite), working collaboratively and more. That internship helped me make connections with professional librarians, many of whom I am still in touch with through personal friendships and professional endeavors. My internship at RIT helped me to land a part-time staff position there following my undergraduate graduation, a position I held throughout the two years it took me to earn my MLIS online from Syracuse University. My staff position led to a whole new level of learning, and I was able to participate on faculty/staff committees, take the lead on some projects, complete a graduate-level internship working on a digital collection, and offer my opinions as a student and soon-to-be-librarian. Most importantly, my experiences at RIT continued to motivate me to become a librarian. I wanted to be able to contribute and improve on an institution which had offered me (and so many others) opportunities to live a more creative, fun, and intellectually stimulating life.

If I had not sought out this internship opportunity as an undergrad (which was not a requirement, by the way), I highly doubt that I would have achieved the same level of professional success as I have today. So you can probably imagine my excitement when I was approached by a Millersville University student who was interested in doing the same. During the spring of 2008 (only about six months into my tenure-track position here) I supervised my first Outreach Support Library Intern. Amy was in her senior year and planned to apply to library school right after graduating with her BA in English. She stuck to that plan and will graduate this December from Clarion University. I have tried my hardest to remain a mentor to this new librarian and help her along the way just as my mentors have helped me. We’ll be presenting together at the 2010 PaLA Annual Conference this fall, talk weekly about library-related topics, and share professional development opportunities with each other when we find them.

This fall, I am excited to have another intern. Also in his senior year, Mike is considering graduate school as a post-graduation option. One of the things I’m working on with him is a collaborative research project which we hope to have published in a peer-reviewed journal. I think that having such a publication on his resume will benefit him regardless of what graduate program he might end up pursuing. I also just talked to another student who is interested in doing an internship with me in the spring of 2011 and who says he has been planning to go to library school for a few years now.

All of my interns have been student workers in the library, so they have some extra institutional-history. I have created an internship plan of work for each of them, based on the same ideas. I go over the document with the intern and then we both sign and get a copy. I am really making this up as I go, folks… no one ever taught me how to run an internship. One thing that I think is important is that they shadow me both in instruction sessions and during research consultations at the reference desk. I hope that with enough experience, my interns will eventually be able to step in and teach a portion of the session (run a group activity or something) or answer a question at the desk. Having a little bit of experience in those two areas will a) give them something to base their graduate-level discussions on and b) might be the deciding factor for a job (student, GA, staff, etc) where the other candidate has never worked in a library. I also have them do some informational interviews in order to learn about other librarian positions and start recognizing the importance of networking.

But like I said… I am really making this up as I go, trying to remember what was helpful to me and what knowledge I should give them before they go to graduate school. A few questions for the blogosphere:

  1. There has been a lot of discussion lately on making potential/new LIS graduate students aware of the difficulties of job searching & myths about the graying of the profession. Is this our responsibility? My responsibility as an intern supervisor? The schools’ responsibility (although that seems highly unlikely)? I have tried to be candid with my interns about the job market and outlook… at the same time they’re getting rhetoric from the graduate programs. I am always honest about library-related issues with them, but do I need to actually warn them or attempt to steer them away from the field? It would just be heartbreaking to have to do that to a student who is excited and passionate about getting into librarianship… at the same time, I don’t want them to end up unemployed. What do you think?
  2. Do you have any feedback on my internship plan of work? I am interested in improving it – for my first intern, I just kind of threw it together, because time was an issue. Now that it looks like this might be a more regular occurrence, I want to make this experience as rewarding for the student as possible. Are there things I’m forgetting or things that have worked for you (as either an intern yourself or an internship supervisor)?

What do we think about undergraduate library internships in general? Are other people doing this at their institutions, either systematically or ad-hoc? Are there resources out there that I should be looking at? Please feel free to share!

* This post is dedicated to Bob Chandler, my first (& favorite) library mentor.

Written by Erin Dorney

September 13, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Digital Collection Internship.

leave a comment »

One of the requirements for my MLIS program is an internship or thesis paper. I have decided to do an internship anticipating that real life experience may serve me better in the long run than yet another research paper. Details below.

Within the past few years, the academic library I am working in has purchased a digital camera and started documenting special events held within the library. These images depict yearly, quarterly, and one-time library events including open houses, guest visits, staff activities, faculty speaking engagements, etc. The library has chosen to take a step in the right direction by documenting these events visually, however no one has ever been tasked with organizing the images. The result is over two thousand unnamed, unorganized images in multiple folders on the library server.

I have been brought on to create an organized, web-based collection of these photographs. When completed, the existing collection will be organized, searchable (using keywords, tagging & metadata), and accompanied by a documentation guide for future image additions.

I have been researching possible open source programs to facilitate this collection since May 2007 and recently have been approved by the Library Director to work with an add-on for Drupal (the CMS system we are currently migrating to) for an open source solution called Gallery.

Last week we finally got the software installed, so now I am working on importing all of the images and keyword tagging them. There are still a lot of images to evaluate (whether or not they should be included in the collection) and I have to work on the documentation guide. My internship technically ends in mid-December, but I am assuming that it won’t be 100% complete and the library will allow me to continue working on the project.

Written by Erin Dorney

October 25, 2007 at 12:48 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,