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Isabel's summer internship a National Geographic

Wearing Many Librarian Hats at National Geographic

My main project, processing a collection of final grant reports of National Geographic funded research, has been going well over the last few weeks.

Collection processing update

After getting all of the physical materials organized, I’ve made a lot of progress rehousing the files and creating metadata for the digital records.

As I made my way through more files, however, it became apparent that there wouldn’t be enough time to complete all of the rehousing and metadata records for all the whole collection before my internship is over.

I’m somewhat disappointed that I won’t be able to meet the original goal, but I do still want to want to leave the collection in a good place at the end of the summer.

Some metadata is better than no metadata

For my last couple of weeks here, the new goal is to rehouse the physical materials and make at least partial catalog records for every file. Even with incomplete metadata, each report will be searchable by a couple of data points and there will be a better understanding of the size and scope of the collection.

Also, this way all of the materials will be viewed at least once. Items that don’t belong can be removed, and anything that needs special attention can get flagged for further consideration. It’s not the ideal stopping point, but it’ll do.

Changing things up

One of the smaller projects I’ve tackled this summer has been redesigning the National Geographic Library and Archives brochure. Barring minor changes to personnel, the brochure hadn’t been updated in over 10 years and was in need of some work.

The old design was getting stale, lacking images and general visual interest. The information the brochure covered was helpful, but didn’t necessarily represent everything the library and archives have to offer and how the two sides work together.

When deciding what information to keep, what to add, and what to remove, a lot of the same big questions that we discuss in classes in the iSchool came up: Who is the target audience? What are their needs? What resources and services will be the most useful for them?

Thinking about these questions and discussing the goals of the library with the staff (some of whom have been with National Geographic for several decades) helped to determine the content for the new version.

It’s also been a great way for me to learn about the breadth of work that happens here. As is the case with most libraries, there’s far more than initially meets the eye.

Librarians and their many hats

One of the other things we talk about in class is that librarians often have to wear many hats, especially when you’re a part of a smaller team. That was definitely true for this project—I’ve added photographer, graphic designer, and copy editor to the hats I’ve donned this summer.

It’s been a fun, creative experience and a nice complement to the processing work. Plus, there’s a nice sense of satisfaction knowing that I’ll be able to wrap up one of my projects with complete, tangible outcome.

Isabel McCullough

Isabel McCullough

Isabel is starting her second year as an MLIS student at SU’s School of Information Studies. She also works as a Research Assistant at the Special Collections Research Center in Bird Library. When not buried in one book or another, Isabel enjoys baking, board games, and crossword puzzles.

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