Here what Palmer students have to say about the hands-on experiences they gained through our required internships.
Hunter College Libraries, Web Librarian Intern:
My internship was an excellent introduction into academic web librarianship. The hands-on experience I gained from working on the library’s website, participating in meetings, and interacting/networking with other professionals in the department was key to not only gaining an insider’s understanding of what I could expect if I would get a job as an academic web librarian but also to getting an actual job. Everyone at Hunter was very encouraging and accommodating. I just cannot stress the importance of this experience enough. There are a lot of great internships out there; as long as you take the time to really consider what kind of skills you want to learn and where or what kind of environment you’d like to work in–and use that as a basis for your decision–it will surely pay off.
Brooklyn College (CUNY) and Democracy Now!
This past Spring semester I completed two internships, each focusing on different areas of the library. I interned at Brooklyn College (CUNY), where I worked in the Information Services department. My other internship was at Democracy Now!, focused in archival materials. I had the opportunity to work with people who are friendly and knowledgeable in the field, complementing what I had learned in my classes. Each internship was different, but it helped me develop my skills in areas that I needed exposure in. It was a great opportunity to work for these institutions. -Lisa
My internship was at the Information Center at Catalyst, Inc. Catalyst is a non-profit organization dedicated to “working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business.” They are a membership organization for corporations. Catalyst started out providing resources to individual women, but as they grew, leadership decided their efforts would be best expended providing resources and services to companies in order to create inclusive work environments. The Information Center at Catalyst was responsible for 1) supporting the research efforts of other Catalyst units 2) providing information and support to member organizations, and 3) supplying information to scholars and the general public about women in the workplace. Requests and support were prioritized in this order. The Information staff consisted of a Chief Information Officer, a library director, a reference librarian, and a technical services assistant, and occasionally an intern (me!). The daily workload for the Information Center consisted of reference requests, lending out periodicals and books, cataloging materials, and acquisitions. As an intern, I was assigned a variety of tasks in order to be exposed fully to the special library environment, where a librarian typically has multiple responsibilities. I cataloged electronic resources using their ILS, answered a few reference requests for the general public, and developed and updated the research briefs Catalyst calls “Quick Takes.” I have catalogued materials before, but I was not used to 1) cataloging digital materials and 2) using MARC 21 format. Answering the reference questions proved to be the most difficult, because some answers were easy to find, and some answers required certain subject knowledge (beyond the knowledge I possessed). The Quick Takes were the most time-consuming effort. They required that I research a broad subject area (i.e., Women in the Labour Force in Australia) and provide a summary of the key facts, statistics, and trends. These research shorts required multiple revisions. Here is the Quick Take that I created during my stay at Catalyst: http://www.catalyst.org/publication/395/women-in-the-labour-force-in-australia. Overall, I was very pleased with my experience. I learned a lot and the environment was very friendly. I was not afraid to ask for help when I needed it, and I felt proud of the work I managed to complete in the short period of time I was there. -Camille
Zabar Art Library, Hunter College
My internship was at the Zabar Art Library at Hunter College. I feel like the internship gave me a good overall experience of working in a small academic library. I was able to do some scanning and cataloging of images, work the front desk, create some promotional material for the library, weed donations, lead a workshop on using databases, and other tasks. It was a valuable experience learning the struggles that a library goes through, and the creative solutions that my mentor came up with to both raise awareness of the resources the library had to offer and to improve its collections. -David
Palisades Park Public Library
I just started a job as a Part Time Youth Services Librarian at Haverstraw King’s Daughters Public Library in Rockland County, NY, so for me, as someone without library experience, the internship was very valuable in easing my transition to the real world of working (paid!) librarianship. The internship provided an excellent overview of public library operations, and gave me exposure to dealing with patrons face-to-face and conducting information searches outside of the academic environment. It also confirmed for me that I didn’t make a mistake in bypassing an archive internship and archive certification. I was very satisfied with the whole Palmer experience, but looking back I feel the sources and services classes, while a lot of work, were probably most relevant to my situation. They emphasized the reference interview, determining what information the patron needs, and the search process and sources to obtain that information. -Craig
Brooklyn College, Special Collections
I worked in the Special Collections Department of Brooklyn College. My position was that of “Digitization Specialist” and I was responsible for selecting, scanning and creating metadata for archival material relating to the history of Brooklyn College. I had a fabulous supervisor, Marianne LaBatto, who was always available to answer any questions I had along the way. She was always respectful and I felt like a valued member of the staff. This really was a wonderful internship and a great opportunity. -Jane
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit I was a fan of Catalyst prior to my applying for an internship. I have always been aware of their mission and dedication to improving diversity and women’s equality in business. However, I had no idea how much I would enjoy working in the Information Center. As a person with so many interests, I was thrilled that I was able to do so much in such a short period of time. I learned how to catalog articles in EOS, responded to information requests, updated a couple of their website “Quick Takes,” contributed topic suggestions for their Twitter feed and I even wrote a couple of short pieces for the Information Center Newsletter. On the flip side, I was also able to apply a lot of the lessons from my Palmer required classes such as creating a graph thanks to Professor Zhang’s LIS 514 class. The only negative is that once I started, I didn’t want to leave. -Emily
Pennsylvania State Archives
I interned at the Pennsylvania State Archives where I learned arrangement and description, encapsulation, and scanning. The skills I most needed on the job were how to arrange and describe a collection, which I learned in the Intro to Archives class I had at Palmer. During the internship, I learned how to scan historical maps which I did not know how to do previously. I did not know how to operate the scanning equipment at the Pennsylvania State Archives. I had to learn it from my mentor, but I suppose that there is no way that can actually be taught in class. -Joseph
College of New Rochelle Academic Library
I did my internship in an academic library. The project that was given to me was from a nursing class syllabus. Doing the research was difficult at first, and it took some time in doing. I enjoyed every aspect of making a LibGuide pathfinder for that class assignment. I learned that reliable research can be done from the World Wide Web. I had two great mentors that helped me when I got stuck and wasn’t finding anything. The community of Wakefield, Bronx was my project, finding research from the population as to the demographics of the mortality rate, and creating a hyperlink pathfinder. -Gail
The Morgan Library
After completing my internship, I’m still at The Morgan… now 3 days a week working around the new Palmer intern who comes in on alternating days. The department head has asked me to start on a new incunables research project which I’m thrilled about… WHO would EVER have thought that I’d be sleuthing around the 15th century world of incunables… ????? NOT me, for sure… I imagined when I started that I’d be a lower school librarian… so much for the complete change of path!! I’m realizing each day I’m at the Morgan how well prepared I was at Palmer for almost everything that comes my way… NOT to say that I can do it all right away, but I’ve been introduced to it all and have a confidence in my abilities to figure out the rest which has been HUGE!! -Pam
Berg Collection of English and American Literature at The New York Public Library
Notes on Experience:
I went into my internship at the Berg Collection of English and American Literature at The New York Public Library never having dealt with special collections or archives. I was new at this in almost every sense of the word. In spite of this, employees and volunteers in the collection were able to instruct me in much of the process for handling archives and I was able to self-teach myself the rest. What I discovered is that everyone processing archives has their own style, and you have to discover what works best for you and your purposes. Through my time at the Berg Collection, I was able to learn how to process an archival collection in an objective and efficient manner. I like to think of my internship as a three-month intensive/immersive course in archives. It really helped fill in a gap in my knowledge.
A Good Memory
A Good Organizational System – preferably one that allows you to focus on a single item while also being able to understand that item’s relevance and location in the overall archive.
A Knowledge of Archival Terminology
A Knowledge of Archival Processing
Skills Had at Start:
I knew nothing of Archival Terminology or a good knowledge of how archives were processed.
Some Thoughts on the Course:
When we met as a class, I really didn’t know what to expect because we were all coming from such very different internships, and I thought it would mostly be talking about what we were doing. Using the course for useful and important skills such as writing a good resume was a perfect plan that nicely complimented the whole point of the internship. -Stephen
The internship is a worthwhile experience and thankfully it is a required part of the program. It gives one professional library experience, which is great especially for people like me who are starting a new career and do not already have any. The “resume workshop” class was very useful. It was also interesting to hear in class about other people’s experiences. Some people’s experience reinforced their direction, while others’ steered them toward another. During my internship at Marvel Entertainment, I utilized concepts from classes like knowledge organization, archives and manuscripts, preservation, and others. I also learned a lot about the company, from the dynamics between the different departments to how the archive relates to the rest of the company. It would be interesting to see how another company would differ in how they view their archives, how they are used, and how it is treated. I really appreciate the collaborative environment that is commonly engendered in libraries and archives. It was great to be treated as a colleague of equal status, whose opinion is welcomed and taken seriously. -Joey