Sarah Denzer has been the awesome LIS intern at Kelly Library since August 23, 2010. She graciously agreed to write a guest blog entry about her internship experience as a part of this week's Library Day in the Life project.
When I began my MLIS last August at the University of Pittsburgh, I was fortunate to get an internship position at the Penn State Greater Allegheny library, Kelly Library. Today happens to be my last day as an intern at the library and it gives cause for a great deal of reflection regarding my time spent here. My internship, in combination with rigorous study and a move across country has not always been easy, but it has definitely been worth it.
When I think back to my first day I recall the following: intimidation, anxiety, feeling lost and completely out of my comfort zone (those feelings most feel when they begin something new). And this was certainly a new experience for me—I had never worked in a library before and although I had done a brief internship at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, it had prepared me only a little for this. Those feelings felt at first speedily went away as the weeks went by. My co-workers were incredibly patient and very generous with their time and resources to make me as comfortable as circumstance would allow. I generally create strong ties in the work-place, so this was essential for me to feel at “home.” Routine provided opportunity to smooth out those essential skills needed in myself as a developing librarian.
Due to the small nature of the Kelly Library, I was fortunate to participate in a number of activities. My primary responsibility was to serve at the reference desk: this was initially the most stressful position for myself (an introvert), but certainly the most rewarding. There is very little that can prepare you for your first reference interview—and nothing that can perfect it better than practice, practice, practice! It was thrilling the first time I realized I was no longer intimidated by the process. In addition to reference, I was also able to participate in the following: circulation, receiving and shipping and adding/withdrawing materials. Furthermore, I was actively engaged in a few projects: organizing, writing up citation guides, assisting the Head Librarian in the development of a YALSA webinar, and compiling resources for a research webpage for the campus’ 2011-2012 Teaching International program. I was also able to attend some instruction classes taught by our Reference Librarian, learn how the cataloging system works, and even travel with the Head Librarian to the Penn State Harrisburg library to interview/meet with a few of their librarians. In all, there was a rich variety of activities/opportunities for me to participate.
What I feel today is almost 100% the opposite of what I felt on my first day as an intern. In sum, I feel comfortable. I feel blessed. There are multiple benefits that spring from my time spent here: knowledge, confidence, experience, networks, and friendships. It is invaluable. Although graduating with an MLIS is an essential foundation, my internship provided a practical application of everything I learned in the classroom. In combination, these two serve to prepare me for the professional workforce. I am sad to leave, but am grateful that I can look forward to the new horizon with a confidence that would not be possible otherwise.