I meant to write about America Reads here during the summer, but I never got into the habit. This is one of the dangers of various blogging spaces since SI provides one for the internship credit so I tended to write there. This summer has ended up being not what I expected and far more rewarding due to that.
In May, I was thinking that I’d be doing an internship at one of the many wonderful public libraries in the area, focused on youth services. I interviewed at the Clinton-Macomb library the Canton library, finding those interviews was exciting as I discovered just how confusing Michigan highways can be. I wasn’t chosen for either of them and kept looking, I found an internship at the UoM Depression Center, which sounded interesting, but didn’t quite fit.
Then an email showed up on the SI mailing list from the Ginsberg Center and America Reads saying they needed a library volunteer to help them organize their library. So I went to speak with them and everything fell into place. America Reads is an incredible federal program that provides tutors for elementary school students in high risk areas to assist them with learning to read. The program is an a wonderful old mansion that holds a number of other service programs called the Ginsberg Center. America Reads was recently able to move their library to a larger space in the basement, where they have a collection of at least 3000 books. I don’t have an exact number, because every day there seem to be new donations and I helped to purchase more books.
I began my internship by finding out what America Reads needed and wanted by crafting a Google Survey for the tutors and speaking to a few of the tutors. Most of the information was helpful and focused on an online searchable catalog along with making the library neater. These two pieces of information helped decide what I did the rest of the summer.
First I began by inventorying the books and taking them out of the subjective topics sections that they were in as I researched cataloging systems. I soon discovered that when a library is under 5000 books, there isn’t a lot of literature on the options, because that size usually doesn’t have a full time librarian. With the help of my mentor from the Technical Services department of Hatcher Graduate Library, I was able to find resources on Church library informational pages. I ended up narrowing my choices down to two automation library systems, Surpass and LibraryWorld and chose LibraryWorld. LibraryWorld is a company that I think will keep doing very well, because it changes the business model of automation systems. From my experience, they seem to mainly be sold in modules, so that a librarian who isn’t aware of what they really need could easily buy too much and spend a lot of money. LibraryWorld on the other hand provides everything online, cataloging, importing records, circulation, patron records, reports and a link for an online catalog. So this was the system that I chose and since July, I’ve been in the process of cataloging the books along with organizing them. When everything is finished, the books will be arranged alphabetically in four main categories; picture books, board books, chapter books and non-fiction. This way students can do in-depth cross referencing online and then come to the library to find their books and check them out. At this point, America Reads has hired me on full time to work with them throughout the year, even after I have all the hours I need for my internship.
I think this experience is going to put me in a great place to work in the kind of library I want to be, one that’s small and my skills will help it become the best library for its community.