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Roger Merrill interns with the Community Library of Jamesville & Dewitt

The Challenges of Designing a Library Program as a Summer Intern

It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the midpoint of my internship with the Community Library of Jamesville & Dewitt already. Things are moving pretty fast.

Forward Facing

There are a number of technical and processing skills I still need to come up to speed with in order to be of service to patrons. The more time I spend with a particular task, the more comfortable I become … until something new comes up that involves a feature or process that I have yet to experience. So far, there is always something new.

Interesting to note that there was no “simulator” or extensive systematic training. I take this as a placed confidence to be self-motivated, learn by doing, and ask as needed. This works well with my learning style: exploring, trying, and tinkering.

The library is very well documented in regards to policies, and for each policy there are normally accompanying detailed procedures. I make it a point to learn by spending a little time each day with a particular policy and procedure. This helps me ask fewer questions or at least more knowledgeable questions when I seem to be missing something.

Although libraries may have similar operations, for example checking in and out resources, a particular library may be quite unique in what those resources may be and the manner in which certain things are processed.

The Reference Desk at the Dewitt-Jamesville Community Library
The Reference Desk at the Dewitt-Jamesville Community Library

Back Office

On the managerial side, as I’ve mentioned previously, I have the unique opportunity to spend some exclusive time with the Director and Business manager reviewing operational practices. To date we’ve covered:

  • The library’s funding structure, law, levy and other sources of revenue
  • Budget Planning and preparation, structure, timing and negotiating
  • Budget & Financial Reports, monthly, annual and audits
  • Internal Controls and Procedures

Reading textbooks, lectures, and class projects are invaluable for laying the groundwork. Seeing these ideals working in context adds an extra dimension to my internship.

Although just an intern, I wouldn’t say there are any large or unique challenges associated with the work I am doing. LIS and other management courses ,as well as years of experience, have helped me to manage a good number and variety of tasks and situations (with the exception of maybe my own workshop).

I would admit, however, there are a number of things added together, especially specific details to a task, that remind me that I am a newbie. You know the things typical of most new positions: “where are the widgets located?”, “who is managing the xyz project?”, “who do we call when the thing-a-ma-jig is busted?” As much as I’m trying to be productive, asking and learning is the goal of an internship.

Library Programming

There is one program I am pulling together that does have a few outside dependencies that are not necessarily under my control. There may be a little stress to my tenure here should there be any difficulty getting those tasks to come together by my end date.

Let me tell you a little about the program we hope to provide for our community in mid-September. Many adults are on their own when it comes to navigating the e-world of scams, spam, and phishing. Some are easily recognized, but others are elaborate and sophisticated.

While big industries like finance, health and retail are the most prized targets by scammers, the general public is typically the easiest target. Organizations may put many protections in place. Outside the organization the general public is often left alone to fend for themselves and often learn of the threats after having become the victim.

The best defense is being informed prior to an incident. That means knowing what to look for that may tip you off on a potential scam. Learning best practices that may help to reduce susceptibility and perhaps prevent the opportunity in the first place. Per chance you are a victim, there may be little that can be done. But in some cases there may be opportunities for recourse.

The program will be designed to bring together a few subject experts to provide short presentations covering aspects of these issues. The presentations would be followed by a short panel discussion on how they might respond to particular scenarios. Finally, we would close with a period of questions from the audience. What do you think? Would you come?

Well I should get back to work, I’ve got articles to write, promotions to design, and maybe an interview or two to plan.

Roger Merrill

Roger Merrill

Roger Merrill is a long term SU member, staff and student. He has been the IT Director and now Assistant Dean for Technology and Facilities here at the iSchool. If not at his desk in the office he is likely in the classroom. If not on campus he is home tending his sheep, making hay, building something or scouting the forest.

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