My Journal

Week 1

9/3:

I met with Nancy in the Virginiana room and helped her by searching through microfilm newspapers from the Fredericksburg News in 1847. I scanned through advertisements related to slave auctions, or rewards for escaped slaves and found two out of ~30 newspapers. I then met the team at the Circulation Desk (now called customer service). I then scanned in dozens of returned books, organized holds and transfers, and organized them correctly on carts by section.

I have very little experience with library equipment (how to read microfilm, for example), but it was fun to learn how to use.

9/4:

I shadowed the research desk today and learned about their notary system, how to access their intranet research site, and what kind of questions are often asked in person and over the phone. I also am compiling a list of copyright-free learning materials alongside librarians at other branches, and I introduced some new categories, including video+audio production, podcast creating, coding, and social media. I’m being encouraged to participate in events outside of my normal hours as well.

9/5:

Today I shadowed the Youth Services desk and participated in their biweekly (twice a week) MakerLab, which includes a 3D printer, a drawing tablet, PlayDoh, Lego, and other interactive STEM-related activities. It was fun, I used a 3D printer for the first time, and I enjoyed interacting with children and talking to teens about science fiction and stop motion. I then helped someone from the reference desk pull holds from the shelf. Finally, I sat at the reference desk and searched through CRRL’s databases to learn what resources they offer, and how I can help a customer find/research something online.

Week 2

9/10:

Today, I spent most of my time going through the CRRL website and finding dead links under “Research Answers”, which is a compilation of different free resources for finances, businesses, grants, and local tourist and job information. I created a list of over 100 dead links on a document (with brief descriptions of why it didn’t work) and sent it to my advisor. I also started finding free ESL courses in the area as a separate project; I finished that pretty early. With the last hour (compiling the dead links took a while), I went down to the Virginia room/archives and continued searching for advertisements on escaped slaves/slave auctions in Fredericksburg from 1847-1848.

9/11:

The library district manager, Tracy, was impressed with my dead link list and asked me to compile a separate list with alternatives to each dead link. This took some time too, but I’m proud of how quickly I was able to search and create a list for alternatives. Then, someone at the research desk showed me around downtown Fredericksburg by the river and explained some local history to me. Seems random, but it’s all helpful to me, especially while I’m continuing my list of dead links.

9/12:

I finished my dead link alternatives today. After helping with MakerLab and shadowing the research desk again, I stayed late to participate in the Inklings Writers Group. I enjoyed hearing everyone’s work, and afterwards my supervisor thanked me for my feedback and invited me to bring my own work next time. I’m starting to be more interested in the research desk, and research in general.

week 3

9/17:

Today I spend much of my time just researching for my supervisor. I have 5+ lists going on right now, and I plan on organizing them all in my domain given to me through my Digital Studies Class. They are alternative links to dead links on the library’s website, ranked copyright-free materials, ELS/ESOL courses, ideas for a homeless book group, and digital literacy/competency courses (among other, smaller lists).

9/18:

I went to a book group meeting this morning at Katora for the book Educated by Tara Westover. There were some really good discussions and I also made some good points. At the library, I spent an hour continuing research in the Virginiana room, then spent the rest of my time helping Circulation/Customer Service with pulling holds from the shelf. The most physical work so far, but I’m learning the shelves quickly. I’m finding that I really enjoy researching for the library, whether that’s through the Virginiana Room or through my supervisor’s lists.

9/19:

Today I helped out more with MakerLab. I really enjoy teaching kids about the different STEM activities they offer. After MakerLab, I spent some more time narrowing down my lists and ranking different resources (pros & cons). For the last hour, I went back down to the Virginiana room to keep compiling advertisements for escaped slaves. This is probably my favorite project so far; though I’m not as familiar with historical preservation, I can see this work being valuable for the library.

Week 4

9/24:

Craig (Youth Services Department Head) asked me to supervise MakerLab by myself today! I set up, monitored, and cleaned up for the entire two hours. MakerLab has a clipboard to organize who is supervising that day with a tallied section for how many people/children we interacted with. I counted about 10. It was great to interact with kids one-on-one and see their learning processes. I also enjoyed picking the activities (suggested a mix of low-tech like Lego and high-tech like a drawing tablet) to try and include everyone. After makerLab, I felt comfortable easing back into my ongoing Virginiana project. My domain is also in development; I plan on sharing the website with both of my supervisors as my overarching project for the library.

9/25:

Today was slightly more difficult than the days before. I was given a trace list (books that other pages couldn’t find) for the junior nonfiction books. It was hard and took some time, but I ended up finding about a dozen books that no one else could! For the rest of my time, I was tasked with creating a spreadsheet representation of a collaborative list (between myself and other librarians). The data includes local ESL/ESOL classes/convo hours. This was also slightly difficult, but I managed to finish it all today, and I feel productive. These skills are valuable to me, and they also give evidence that I’m thorough and a hard worker.

9/26:

With the help of one of the research librarians (Sarah), we assembled a display of Great African American Men and Women to go up in the Atrium. Since the displays were very large (there were five banners), I had to stand on a stage to assemble them. The Adult Services Coordinator came to visit just as I was ordering the five banners in the Atrium. I paid special attention to angles and color coordination, which she was pleased with. I also chose to put Mr. Lawrence Davies (former major of Fredericksburg) first. Afterwards, I pulled holds from the shelf and continued my research. At the end, my supervisor asked me to stay later on Wednesday nights from now on to supervise the Computer Room. I’m also here on Sundays now!

Week 5

9/29:

Today I did some of my own research. Arthur’s gotten me interested in a Homeless Book Club, and I took initiative and researched how other public libraries have approached the topic. I found that the Charlotte Mecklenburg Central Library has had great success with their homeless book club, so I decided to email both the Library and the Foundation that supports them to find out more about how it’s organized. I’m hoping to take that information and adapt it to this smaller library’s resources. Also, I’ve been planning some events individually such as a College Prep class. It might include writing and presentation skill development workshops, career interests, help with college applications, and advice on time management and the college experience. I also have an ongoing list of free college prep resources that offer financial planning, scholarships, CommonApp prompts and strategies, and SAT/ACT prep/practice. 

10/1:

I took some initiative today and helped Arthur retrieve new nonfiction books for Alisha at the Spotsylvania Towne Center branch. I pulled duplicate books from the shelves I thought would be popular – cookbooks, travel writing, celebrity/politician memoirs, and self-help books are a few examples. I find that I really enjoy compiling these practice “reader’s advisory” lists based on community interest. This seemingly small activity really cemented my desire to work in public service and especially with literature/media in general. Not only that, but of course I’m learning more of the Dewey Decimal system just from being in the stacks, which I was worried about. I’m also experimenting with other ideas that might benefit the library without being instructed to – I compiled a list of free online resources for college-seeking high schoolers such as practice SAT/SAT tests, college readiness advice, and financial aid help. I’m wondering if I can incorporate this into a college preparation class or workshop. It might not work out in the end, but these kinds of exercises are helping me branch out and experiment with individual work.

10/2:

I further developed my own individual ideas to present to my supervisor, then I was scheduled to supervise the Gates Computer Lab for a shift by myself. From this, I discovered that I know more about digital technology than I realized – I helped patrons navigate a computer and printer with ease. I was nervous about doing it at first, and I don’t think I’ll be supervising the Computer Lab often, but I still learned valuable things about my own skills from it. It’s also proved to me that I can work independently and responsibly manage the groups of people coming in to use the computers.

10/3:

My plan for today included emailing some of the research librarians to see if I could formally sit down at the desk and shadow them. My intention with this was to learn more about Horizon and other library development software. I’d really like to explore Horizon myself and figure out how to research within it; this’ll help me adapt to other library systems and better help patrons locate materials. I’m also becoming more interested in cataloguing and collections management, so I hope to reach out to the right departments and see if I can shadow them as well.

Week 6

10/6:

Sundays are quieter days, so I dedicate my time towards individual research and project development. One thing I accomplished this week that I finished today was an event proposal. I outlined a college readiness workshop with a purpose statement, goals, and specifications for how to achieve those goals (providing the names of different branches that are closest to high schools for example). It might not go anywhere, but I think it’s important to practice the steps taken to plan library events.

10/8:

I made another event proposal (Open Mic Event) and shadowed the research desk formally for a couple hours. In my spare time I did some shelf reading, which I love doing. I’m hoping to contact the Library Administrative Center to find out more about how this library system does acquisition and cataloguing. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on how quickly I shelf-read and grab holds, so I’m really curious how the library software plans shelves to begin with, or how holds are processed through the computer. The librarians don’t have a lot of direct assignments or projects for me to do, so I’m learning to work independently and propose my own ideas. This is actually having a great impact on my own critical thinking skills and is shaping me as a professional.

10/9:

Today I didn’t have a lot of time for larger projects since I’m covering the Computer Lab shift today. But, I received feedback on my two proposals from Sydney, the branch manager for Fredericksburg. She thought they were a good idea and encouraged me to find out more information on event planning from Craig (the Youth Services Director) since my events deal with Youth Services. She encourages me to keep developing and tweaking my ideas, which I think is fantastic and extremely encouraging. I’m much more motivated to seek out more information to support my proposals before approaching Craig so that my events have a good chance of becoming a reality. I’m wondering also if Ideaspace, an in-development media lab for young adults, would be a good place for these events since they both interact with digital technologies.

10/10:

I have a meeting appointment with Craig next Wednesday! I was also invited to tomorrow’s (10/11) meeting with the men and women from the sign displays I put up in the Atrium (the photos are on the homepage). The former mayor of Fredericksburg, Lawrence A. Davies, will be there. I feel honored that the library would think to invite me as a representative of their team. I was also asked today what areas I’m gravitating towards and would like to focus on going forward. I think the Research/Reference desk is where I’m most suited for – so far through this internship, I’ve learned that I’m incredibly thorough in the projects I produce, and I’m eager to help patrons/customers locate materials or recommend things for them. I think these are good qualities for a reference librarian to have. Once I attend library school, I’d like to hopefully work on becoming a reference librarian in the future.

week 7

10/15:

Today was a pretty interesting day. I spent most of my shift (3pm – 8pm) valuing old, rare, and antique books gathered from donations. Using AbeBooks, Ebay, Amazon, and other similar applications, I looked up each book (around 50+) with relevant copyright information. If I couldn’t find the exact book or the value of the whole volume set, I could cross-reference other sites and do some deep searches on Google or Images to find relevant price or volume information. I’m not sure if I see myself pricing books long-term, but I can see myself gaining valuable skills I think the Reference desk uses in their day-to-day affairs (knowledge of publishers/publishing trends in the 19th and 20th centuries, how to locate specific materials using that information, etc.)

10/16:

Today I wrote a three-page proposal for my Open Mic Night using the information and recommendations given to me by the Youth Services Department Head. While I was meeting with him, I also asked him about his experience with library school since he also graduated from UMW. He also decided to take time off to gain practical experience, but decided in the end to go out of state for library school. He also informed me about VLA membership and how a CRRL job pays for it annually. Apparently, ODU is going to be the first ALA-accredited library school in Virginia soon. I’m hopeful that that will work for me, or I will keep searching for schools that offer in-state tuition for out-of-state students. I’ve decided that if I do go to library school, I won’t be satisfied with just doing it online. However, I’m discovering that there are many, many different ways to become a librarian, and many positions can be filled full time without having a Master’s degree to begin with.

10/17:

Ran MakerLab again today, mostly on my own. I enjoy setting it up and facilitating it, but I’m wondering what other things I can do for Youth Services. I think I’d prefer to create reader’s advisory or K-12 programming (or really any other “behind the scenes” work). In the background these past few weeks, I’ve also been compiling slave advertisements from the Virginiana Room. This Sunday I plan to organize them by year and create some graphs to show trends I’ve noticed – for instance, I’ve noticed slave auctions occur most frequently in the winter.

Also, I’ve signed up for a LOT of free online webinars on Webjunction. Topics range from cataloging and programming to digitization and inclusive collection-building. I’m very excited to go through these. Even though I sometimes don’t have any work assigned for me, I can always fall back on these and stay productive!

Week 8

10/20:

Like I said on Thursday, today I mostly organized my Virginiana Room research materials and made graphs out of them to show certain trends. Sundays are my shorter days, so I could only complete that, however, I discovered that my graphing and Google Sheets skills really need work. I’ll try and research more on how to create better graphs on Tuesday. It seems worth researching, especially if I end up working more on the library administration side.