Interning at a Community College Library: The Basics

Library Shelves

Last semester I was lucky enough to intern at a local community college library. As a result, I figured I would dedicate this blog post to summing up my experience so that people who might be interested in interning within a community college library could get a glimpse at what the environment might be like.

Here it is:

First, I’d like to briefly summarize what I do as an intern at this community college. I work about ten hours a week providing reference service (online and in-person), creating subject guides, helping with collection development and outreach, teaching information literacy sessions, and I even get to work on a small special collections project. In my experience, the librarians were extremely flexible in that they allowed me to work on many small projects within a variety of different areas. This obviously helped me fill holes within my resume and I think it simultaneously supported some of the already existing functions of the current library staff. For example, I would take shifts on the reference desk and volunteer to teach info lit courses so that the current staff librarians could work on other projects. Here are a few main ideas that I took away from my internship:

  • Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t have experience in something
  • Taking on a variety of small projects can be helpful for you and the institution you are working for
  • Being able to be flexible enough to cover current staff duties is a plus

I’d also like to make some comments about the community college library environment in general. Since community colleges are incredibly diverse in both types/levels of learners as well as subject areas, providing reference service within a community college library has been an amazing experience. A large amount of the questions I get are technology related, but I do get a variety of research questions on different topics. I would offer that if you are going to intern at a community college library and provide reference service I would recommend scheduling your reference duties during the busier times of the day, and not at nights or on Fridays. That is not to say that you will not get good experience on those days, it would just be better to examine the library at its busiest point so you can work on you communication/people skills, and you can also better assess if community college libraries might be a place you want to eventually work in.

In my experience so far as an intern within a community college library I have loved the fast-paced environment, the diverse amount of questions at the reference desk, and the flexibility of the staff that I work with. If these qualities sound interesting to you, interning within a community college library might be the perfect fit for you.

By: Matt Bernstein

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