Thursday, August 22, 2013

Updated Blog Address for Fall 2013 Onward

For posts from Musselman Library Interns from Fall 2013 onward, please see our updated internship blog at

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Final Post

It’s hard to believe that my last semester at Gettysburg College is almost over. My senior year has gone by so quickly! Yesterday, I helped with the Finals Study Break. We served almost 12 gallons on ice cream to students working in the library. I also managed to win my first game of Uno with Clint, Mallory, Meghan, and Chelsea.

I have learned so much from my internship. Our library is a complex organism with various moving parts, and it takes coordination and hard work to keep things running. I am glad that I was about to focus on one aspect of librarianship to see how it connects with the other parts of the library.

My stint in collection development showed me how to evaluate information. There are so many different variables that go into choosing materials for our library, and I learned some considerations that are specific to our library. But I also learned how to think about the needs of the others, which is an important skill to have in any line of work.

At the Reference Desk, I have learned a lot the resources available to find information in academic libraries, but I have also learned important skills like how to effectively communicate and how to help people articulate their questions better. I also learned when to ask for help when I didn't have a clear idea about what to do.

In my work with The Cupola, I learned about academic publishing and open-access, but I also learned about connecting different groups of people (librarians, faculty and students, publishers) to each other to make things happen. I also realized how open-ended much ‘real-life’ work can be. In the working world, sometimes projects don’t have clear cut end points. So much depends on other people.

I truly appreciate the opportunities that the Fortenbaugh internship has provided for me. Looking back on the semester has made me realize how much I’ve done. I’m excited to take what I’ve learned and apply it in the coming months, wherever I end up, and whatever I’m doing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Open-acess and The Cupola

I am currently working to develop The Cupola, Gettysburg College’s open-access compliant institutional repository. That’s a mouthful! What, exactly, is an open-access compliant institutional repository? Since I’m a philosophy student at heart, I’ll engage in a little bit of conceptual analysis and explain what each of these constituent terms mean.

An institutional repository is a place where an institution—in this case, Gettysburg College—can store and preserving the research created by its members. The Cupola stores research by faculty, but also students.

What does it mean that our institutional repository is open-access compliant?

As Peter Suber notes on his excellent website about open-access, a primary goal of open-access is to remove both “price barriers” and “permission barriers”. That means not only that open-access materials are free to download and distribute, but also that they are free to be built upon by other scholars. The Cupola aims to make the College's research available to the online community, for the purpose of contributing to the work of others and providing a foundation for future research.

My responsibilities have included researching publishers’ copyright and self-archiving policies to determine whether we can include faculty research in The Cupola, and if so, in what form. For example, Prof. Steve Gimbel’s paper in Evolution: Education and Outreach is open-access, so we can include it without too much trouble.

Open-access is evolving, so it can be difficult to figure out whether a journal or publisher allows us to deposit the publisher's version of an article (the version of record) in a repository or not. Accordingly, part of my job is communicating with publishers and editors to ask for permission. I have been in contact with editors from different journals. It has been interesting learning about the different kinds of permission and different versions of a piece of research.

I've enjoyed working on The Cupola because it's easy to see the results of my work. I can go to The Cupola's website and see articles that I uploaded. I look forward to continuing this work in the future. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Instruction and Focus Groups

My internship focuses not only on reference librarianship, but also information literacy and instruction. Accordingly, I’ve been fortunate to sit in on some library instruction classes with Clint. I think that the image of a librarian as a reference resource is pretty well established in our cultural consciousness, at least here at Gettysburg College, but the image of librarian as teacher is perhaps not as prominent. At some colleges and universities, however, librarians are considered part of the faculty.

This aspect of librarianship is vital. I look forward toward observing different librarians teach to different classes. I’m trying to take notes in case I end up giving instruction classes of my own at some point.

Another project with which I’ve been occupied is a series of focus groups. These focus groups consisted of students, faculty, and college employees. My own discipline, philosophy, generally does not engage with this sort of method, so I was excited to read about the different considerations and methodological issues involved in conducting focus groups. I sat in on a meeting where Mallory, Ronalee, and Clint decided which questions were relevant. It felt great to be included.

I also spent some time transcribing recorded videos of the focus groups so that we can analyze the discussions that took place and hopefully improve our services. The library aims to respond to the interests of its patrons. An analysis of these focus group sessions will help with this aim.

I am very excited to work on the Cupola, Musselman Library’s open-access institutional repository. I’ve been reading about open-access publishing in preparation for my work after spring break. Be prepared to hear more about that soon!

At the Desk

During the past few weeks of my internship, I've spent time providing research consultations at the Reference Desk. I initially sat with a librarian during my shift, but I’m now working independently. Since then, I have fielded questions about gender roles in high school guidance offices, the invasive nature of the lionfish species, and the causes of industrialization in early modern Spain.

These research interviews have taught me a lot. For instance, I have learned the usefulness of knowing the scientific names of plants and animals when searching for scientific articles. I have also learned when to ask for help from the librarians when I’m stumped by a student’s question. Overall, I feel much more comfortable conducting research interviews and using Musselman Library’s resources.

Besides working at the Reference Desk, I also have worked in Collection Development. I helped Kerri Odess-Harnish evaluate a set of philosophy books that had fallen out of our collection. This work requires a nuanced understanding not only our collection and its holding on the subject of the book, but also an understanding of other libraries, for example, how many other libraries have the title under consideration. I also researched our holding on county histories of Pennsylvania, both online and in the stacks.

I was particularly interested in the extent to which librarians must juggle considerations of the library’s identity and mission on campus as they evaluate items in our collection and decide whether they really fit into our library. As a library at a small liberal arts college, we have specific needs and strengths. It’s nice to know that my work is helping to satisfy those needs and bolster those strengths. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Introduction Post: John Hill

Allow me to introduce myself: my name is John and I am the Esther Kenyon Fortenbaugh Intern in Reference and Instruction for spring 2013. I am a senior and I study philosophy. I have spent a lot of time in the library throughout my college career, both as a student and as an employee (I work in interlibrary loan and at the circulation desk). Before that I worked at a public library in Baltimore County. Accordingly, I've been familiar with libraries and librarianship for awhile, but as the Fortenbaugh Intern, I'll be acquainting myself more intimately with the profession.

My first two weeks have been busy and exciting. I have trained with several reference librarians during my shifts at the Reference Desk. Each of them has a different perspective on librarianship, and each of them plays a different role in Musselman Library, but all of them are devoted to making useful resources available to students and faculty and to teaching them how to use these resources. I am excited to practice strategies for answering people’s questions, but  I am admittedly nervous to staff the desk on my own. I am confident, though, that with a little bit more time and experience, I’ll be okay.

To my delight, Clint has supplied me with several reading assignments about the library profession. I have enjoyed learning about the profession, especially the sheer diversity of the field. It’s easy to rely on outdated stereotypes of librarians and their craft. In reality, though, librarians have always been involved in very different projects according to the needs of the institution they serve. I look forward to learning more about the wide array of specialties out there. For those curious readers, I would highly recommend taking a look at the blog In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

Looking ahead, in the near future, I shall be working on collection development, particularly with materials in the philosophy collection. I’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes!