Undergraduate Internship at Saratoga Springs Public Library
For the spring semester of 2013, I had the opportunity to intern at the reference department of Saratoga Springs Public Library. Although I have several years of experience in libraries of all types, this was my first direct experience in a reference department and in a large, heavily frequented public library. During the last few months, I learned many things, worked on a few projects and deepened my understanding of how public libraries operate.
The structures and activities of my internship were left up to me for the most part. Aside from a few assigned projects, my supervisor gave me leeway to spend time completing projects with each member of the reference department as well as other key staff in the library. Another part of the internship had me spending time with the public providing reference services in two different capacities. The more efficient, less in-depth interactions occurred at the information desk. This location saw the most activity as well as higher volume of traffic. When a question by a patron involved more time to research a solution, they are always reassigned to the reference desk location. This desk provided me with invaluable experience in answering reference questions. A public library deals with a greater variety than that of any other library. From this experience I was able to build up my resources for future positions.
I also completed a variety of projects under the supervision of reference staff. This includes creating a brochure of novels and movies of interest for Black History month, taking inventory of a collection of books and suggesting a list of replacements, pulling a list of subject-specific books and creating its separate sub-section, and finally, itemizing and updating a large collection of library-use only items. The last project is the most involved and took me the entire internship to complete. The collection of documents was the paperwork of local government and city government documents. These projects and activities are typical of the reference librarian job description.
The experience at Saratoga Springs Public Library confirmed my love and desire to work in a public library. I experienced what a reference librarian does on a daily basis. I also gained a deeper understanding into how public libraries continue to adapt to new challenges in the digital age. As a result, I will continue to volunteer at SSPL on a weekly basis throughout the summer. I also obtained a temporary position at Albany Public Library for the summer.
M. Siobhan Webber
B.A. Information Science
Expected Graduation Date: July 5, 2013