Below, Jaqueline Baird, one of our latest interns, gives an overview of her work at the Smithsonian Libraries. Interested in interning with us? Check out our Professional Development internships. Applications are open now through March 12, 2012.
When I was young, and my parents took me to the library, I was amazed by the stacks filled with books. All of this information, right at my tiny fingertips. Worlds awaiting my young and eager imagination. The library was a special place for me then and continues to be a special place for me now. As an adult, I knew I wanted to be a librarian. A person who understands the extraordinary relationship between a person and a book. A person knows the value of information. A person who wants to help others. Through my journey to the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, I have only strengthened my understanding that libraries are special places and librarians are unique people.
I applied for the internship in September and was accepted into the program in October. I was ecstatic. Here I was, a small town Pennsylvania girl becoming a part of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Every day since has been wonderful and exciting. I have learned so many new skills to supplement the library science education I am receiving at The Catholic University of America. From October to December I worked in the National Museum of the American Indian branch library under Baasil Wilder. Baasil has been an excellent mentor and supervisor, giving advice about the career and sharing his own personal experiences. While at the NMAI, I performed tasks such as organizing the reading room located within the library. This was a labor intensive undertaking, but satisfying to know that it would benefit the users in the end. The room was more clearly defined and uniform. I also worked within the closed stacks, pulling books to ship to users and looking for missing books which helped me to gain a better understanding of what the collection contained physically.
Another project that I worked on was entering artist information into a database available through the Smithsonian. I would look at pieces of artwork, portfolios, and exhibition pamphlets to gather information pertinent to each author and enter that information into the system. The final project I completed while at the NMAI was creating a collection development policy for the library in accordance with a final project for a collection development class I was taking. The class and the internship worked well together for me because I was working so heavily with the collection that writing the policy really solidified the work I was doing and the knowledge I was gaining. I realized how important the collection development policy is to any library and how it can really help the staff to become very familiar with their collection. Both Baasil Wilder and Bill Baxter were so helpful throughout the process, answering my questions and providing insight into not only the NMAI but the inner workings of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries as a whole. Overall, working at the NMAI has been a beneficial and wonderful experience. I am so happy I received an opportunity to work there and I hope to continue to be of service to the library.
In January, I began working at the Museum Support Center branch across from the NMAI. Though I have not been there long, I have already begun work on several projects and am excited to see where the rest of my time here takes me. I am learning so much about libraries from a managerial perspective, working under Gil Taylor. He shares his advice on the profession and provides suggestions for the rest of my time in school. I knew that the Smithsonian Institution Libraries would be an amazing place to work, but it was the people who really make it exceptional. Every person that I meet is so friendly and willing to provide help. On the days that I go into either the NMAI or the MSC, I wake up with a smile on my face knowing that this will be an exciting day filled by doing what I love with other people who are doing what they love.
—Jacqueline Baird, Intern Fall 2011-Spring 2012