When I’m not running around Hinds Hall or drinking copious amounts of coffee, you can find me at the DeWitt Community Library, where I work part-time. The DeWitt Community Library is a bustling public library located ten minutes from Syracuse’s campus. I spend the majority of my time there helping the Executive Director, Business Manager, and other librarians with their administrative needs.
Working behind the scenes has given me the opportunity to see what library management really means. My coworkers are in charge of planning programs, calculating budgets, building external partnerships, conducting assessments, and managing staff (among other responsibilities). While this work can be time-intensive, it’s crucial. It ensures that the library is effectively responding to the needs of the community.
That’s why I decided to reach out to Christine Szeluga for my final blog post in my internship series. Christine completed her MSLIS internship at the Staten Island Museum, where she is now the Manager of Education. The goal of her internship project was to strengthen the connection between students from Staten Island and the resources in the Museum’s library.
To do so, Christine created a new outreach education program for the Museum. The program taught students 21st-century skills using 19th and 20th-century documents. Like all project managers, she relied on research and external partnerships to inform her decision making. While the project is still ongoing, it’s exciting to hear from an LIS grad who was so deeply involved in the creation and management of library services during their internship experience.
Christine Szeluga – MSLIS Graduate 2016
Staten Island Museum Intern
Tell me about the Staten Island Museum! What’s in their collection?
Founded in 1881, the Staten Island Museum is New York City’s only general interest museum. It engages visitors with interdisciplinary exhibitions and educational programs that explore the dynamic connections between natural science, art, and history based on its diverse collections.
The Museum was founded as a natural science institute and later integrated art and history in the early 1900s. The history collection includes a reference library with over 15,000 volumes and more than 175 Special Collections. They focus on history, science, nature, and art relative to Staten Island.
The Archives also holds more than 60,000 images including photographs, negatives, carte de visite, daguerreotypes, tintypes, stereoviews, and other formats.
What did a typical work day look like for you?
Because I am an employee of the Museum, I get a bit more free rein than the typical researcher. I got a tour of the archive and an overview of their finding aids. After that, I was set to pull materials for my research.
Aside from the iSchool’s internship, I was also working with a group of 7th and 8th graders on an after school program. It’s about American History through the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE), called Teen Thursdays. The program was designed for students to be introduced to Staten Island’s history. This is in hope to foster hometown pride—which very much lacks in Staten Island (i.e. forgotten borough).
My research began in the neighborhood where the school was, Graniteville. I found that the world’s largest firework factory was the same location where the school is today. I pulled ephemera, newspaper clippings and more to create what I call, a project packet. After I compiled what I felt was enough resources to tell the history of the site, I then created depth of knowledge, critical thinking questions so the students could analyze the documents.
It said in your Internship proposal that you created an outreach program modeled on the Brooklyn Public Library’s archive. What did this entail?
Prior to the Museum, I worked for five years at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection. I was in their outreach program, Brooklyn Connections as the program manager. The partnership program offers classes rare access to original archival materials while completing a customized, standards-based project. In addition, Brooklyn Connections supports NYC educators and students through professional development workshops, school visits, and online resources.
Since Brooklyn Connections can only serve Brooklyn, as the resources are entirely Brooklyn specific. I thought it might be fun and interesting to do a similar program with the Staten Island Museum’s archive for Staten Island schools. Using the internship to begin this process was ideal because I could totally focus on my goal of starting this program. I was able to create sample curriculums to tout to future funders—next up, find grants to support this program!
What was your favorite aspect of the internship?
The archive has so many untapped resources. It was amazing to see what the archive had; including ephemera and documents that the archivist didn’t even know they possessed! I love going through the resources and finding something long forgotten about.
What advice would you give to current library students?
Try to work, observe, do research in and visit different libraries. Through this program, I was able to observe several school libraries serving a varied group of students, a couple college libraries, a couple special collections, and public libraries. I think many of us go into programs focusing on one area, then after we get exposure, realize we want to focus on another—and that’s OK!