Friday, March 15, 2013

Internship Week 7 review

Last week was a busy one with the CPL internship. I submitted one new project and completed an ongoing one, logging 19 hours in Week 7.

The Tumblr report was one that took me a great deal more time than I'd anticipated. It ended up formatted more like a school assignment, with references to the news stories and research articles I'd found on social media and libraries. The project (including the slide deck, which I submitted the previous week) also involved a certain amount of hands-on testing and screenshotting, which I'm used to from (the best parts of) my day job. I found that some smaller libraries are venturing into Tumblr and Pinterest, but that CPL and NYPL are the major public libraries with presences in those social networks. (No SFPL! No Boston Library! No LA Library!) CPL has already made strides in marketing some of their niche services and programs with multiple Tumblr blogs. However, I don't know who was responsible for setting up those pages and maintaining them, so I addressed my materials to the raw Tumblr beginner (who likely has plenty of online experience and is familiar with sites like Facebook). Maybe they'll be in the next wave of "tumblarians".

I was also stuck with not knowing what CPL's exact policies for photographing and publishing photos of patrons (especially minors) were. I couldn't find them posted on the library website, where some other libraries keep theirs, so I asked for guidance from my site supervisor a couple of days after receiving the assignment. The request got lost somewhere down the line to and from YA services, so in my report I simply listed some common strategies I had seen from other libraries -- make a blanket statement at meetings/programs, get signed release forms from anyone recognizable or anyone you want to identify by name, get permission from parents of minors, only post crowd photos with no faces -- and stressed that staff would need to be familiar with their own library's policies.

Sidenote: I put my name on the written report, because it had a title page, but I was unsure how to credit authorship on the slide deck (or any of the previous assignments, really). Because I'm writing as an intern for CPL, it seems that CPL's affiliation should be noted somewhere on the materials. However, I'm a student at SJSU. And I'm a person in my own right, of course. If I were presenting this work at a library conference, I would use my name on it. (Does it make a difference if I'm being funded or paid by a school or company to do research? Probably. But this is an unpaid internship, and I'm paying tuition for the credit I'm earning.) I'll want to address the issue of ownership as the semester closes, because some of this material would be good for my portfolio.

The new project that I was assigned was a set of "challenge cards" for one aspect of the summer learning programs. Each library will have a Curiosity Kit: a tacklebox of craft supplies and found objects. Young readers will be encouraged to use these materials to design/build/create items related to the stories they've read. My assignment was to find 5-10 books for each of 3 levels (Picturebook, Primer/Early Reader, Chapter Book) and write challenges for them.

So, first I went to the library and browsed. (I love that this assignment involved actual children's books!) I wanted books that were published fairly recently (to have the chance of being new material for the readers), were widely available in the CPL collection (so that more readers could participate), and were interesting/fun/diverse/relevant (y'know, good books). I admit that my first method involved skimming the stacks until I found multiple copies of the same title -- after all, if it's that popular in a major metropolitan area, hopefully that will translate to CPL having 10+ copies citywide. Largely, I found that to be the case. I had to discard a few promising selections, though, when it turned out that CPL only had a couple of them on hand.

When it came to the challenge cards, some of my best ideas were also discarded -- because they couldn't be performed in a library over 10-30 minutes. Some would have been great activities with household items, while traveling by bus or car, or persisting over about a week (hmmm... aspects I explored with the science activities a couple weeks ago). And also, what's in these Curiosity Kits? Are we talking bottle caps? Glitter? Will they have markers or crayons, or just pipe cleaners? White glue, rubber cement, Scotch tape, duct tape, hot glue guns? NO ONE KNOWS. So a fair amount of what I suggested involved guesswork. :/ I don't think it was my best work, but it got turned in, and I'm certainly not the only person writing these for the program. I did learn to recognize that my first instincts -- and the ones I get most attached to -- are usually discussion-only, not hands-on activities, probably from the past 4 years of Read Aloud prep. That will continue to serve me, but it's good to get out of that box from time to time.

Total hours to date: 68 / 135.


  1. If you are doing the work for the library, you are doing it for them. I would expect them to want their name associated with it and not yours. See the virtual internship blog Anthony is working on for SLIS. We will continue to use that after he leaves. To give him credit, we decided he should have an "editor" page, but it could be just a line for a ppt or example. I think this is something you definitely want to check with your site supervisor on. Your approach to the permission for the pictures was a good one, but you may want to cover yourself by sending an email now stating that is how you handled it and asking for them to get back to you if something should be changed.

    You are definitely paying for the credits for the course. But the site is also incurring hidden expenses in the time they devote to coming up with projects, providing feedback, evaluating your work, and even filling out forms for the government about their interns. So, it should be a win-win situation.

    1. Good points. I'll make sure to bring it up with my site supervisor.

      I also think there may be a reasonable distinction between materials that are created for/accessed by library staff (who may want to know "Who created this?" if they have follow-up questions, for example) and those that are for distribution to library patrons. I think it's appropriate for CPL to be listed as the source for the latter; it's with the former that I see some ambiguity.


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