Thursday, February 14, 2013

ALL the Internship Questions

Something about this virtual internship that I've found challenging so far is the isolation from a traditional work environment. While I find it easier to get work done on my own, without the distraction of office noises and other people, there are certainly some benefits of being familiar with the actual work environment librarians encounter. That hands-on experience would be a large part of the attraction of a traditional onsite internship placement. Lacking this day-to-day engagement with Chicago Public Library, this is the email I sent my site supervisor.

I have so many questions -- some of which I didn't really realize until I started working on CPL-related stuff. Some topics we might have discussed (or might have been obvious) at an onsite internship, or maybe during a longer interview process. Basically, I'm curious about what the public librarian's job looks like from the inside. I've put them all in this email, as requested, and hope that you'll address the ones that seem relevant at some length when you get a chance.

About the work environment:
Where do you work from? Are you only at one branch (or main location) or do you circulate? What does your workspace look like -- are you always/often/sometimes/ever on the floor/at a public-facing desk/at an office desk?
How many people work with you at your location? Do most of them have the MLIS credential? How are volunteers involved? How has that changed during staffing shortages over the last few years?

About your role/experience:
How long have you been a librarian? Where did you earn your MLIS? Would you recommend that program, and why/why not? Did you already work in a library when you started the degree? What do you feel really helped you in the job market? What would you like to see in prospective hires?
How long have you worked for CPL? What has your career progression looked like? What do you especially like about being a librarian, or specifically a Librarian IV? What specific responsibilities do you have? What are some of the challenges of the position?
How might you spend a typical day?

About CPL programs and processes:
What tools do staff use to communicate? Is there a content management system? Is it proprietary, opensource, freemium?
What about staff meetings? How many people are involved? How frequent are they? What level of discussion goes on -- task distribution, new programs, etc.?
Who manages the content at Is it a priority? Any redesign planned?
Who cleans the library? When? Are the same standards required of daycare centers applied to gathering places like library children’s departments? How often are the non-circulating materials cleaned? (from the Duplo research)
How are records kept for the summer learning program? I see totals on the website, but no methodology. Are the kids still going to use paper logs this year, and are those duplicated somehow by staff or are staff relying on reports from readers?

I'll keep reading the Board meeting notes, which will probably spark another round of questions. Thanks in advance!


  1. It's good to see you are caught up with your posts. I'll be looking for a new one each week. I have been reading your other posts but commenting on only a few. One post I enjoyed was the imposter syndrome and can understand Tina Fey's message--having been there/done that.

    You sent quite a lengthy message, and I understand why. Would it have been better to break it into shorter messages with fewer questions each? (I don't know) I hope you will let me know what type of response you receive.

    1. I think it was best in this case to put them all into one email (although I did try to break them into sections to help with the deluge). I started with a Google Doc that I updated continuously. My site supervisor prefers email for communication, and this way I'll have a record of what was asked and answered. Our assignment-centered emails have been much shorter, so far.


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