Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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. 

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