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One for the money: a library internship in Numismatics

This post was written by Katrin Richter, intern at the National Museum of American History Library through the Whitworth Smithsonian Internship Program.  Are you interested in learning more about interning with Smithsonian Libraries? Visit our Internships and Fellowships page and explore our Summer 2016 opportunities. Applications close April 1st, 2016.

During my three weeks in January as an intern at the Smithsonian Libraries, I gained an understanding of librarianship, as well as a deep appreciation for the Smithsonian Institution.

Katrin Richter
Photograph of Katrin Richter in sunnier locals than her time spent working in DC

I am an undergraduate student studying English at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA. I hope to attend graduate school in Library Science after I graduate in 2017, and this internship was an ideal opportunity to gain real-world experience in a library. In working with the Smithsonian Libraries, I learned what a future career in Librarianship might look like and am confident in my desire to pursue that career.

The projects I was assigned allowed me to become familiar with tasks that librarians complete on a daily basis–shelving, scanning, and searching for books. I became comfortable using SIRIS, the Smithsonian Libraries online catalog, and with how materials are shelved in Library of Congress call number order.

Numismatics books
Numismatics books to be searched for duplication and to be cataloged

The project I spent most of my time on has been a long-term undertaking: the reorganization of the Numismatics divisional library* in the National Museum of American History Library. The time I spent assisting with the reorganization showed me how much thought and work must be put into a project that may seem straight-forward. I was constantly reminded of the small details and nuances–especially when checking uncataloged books against SIRIS and for duplication on the shelves–that make it important to maintain a diligent focus.

In the short three weeks that I worked in the Libraries, I was exceedingly impressed with the Smithsonian Institution in general, from the glimpses I received. I was able to take tours of some of the other libraries, where I was amazed at the breadth of the collections as well as the knowledge, kindness, and enthusiasm of the staff. While visiting the Museum Support Center Library , I was able to sit in on a session of a symposium about trafficked artifacts. Listening to the curators and conservationists, and going on a tour of the Anthropology unit, I was struck by how active the Smithsonian is–not only as it encompasses a vast number of museums and libraries, but also as a center for education, for innovation, for research on a multitude of different areas, etc. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to see a glimpse of such a remarkable organization.

*Note: started in July 2014, the Numismatics Library reorganization is close to completion at the end of February 2016, in no small part to Katrin’s assistance. She, along with a host of other interns and colleagues over the past year and a half, have made this reorganization a success! More about the reorganization will be posted in coming weeks.

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