Category Archives: Internship

Visiting the School Librarian and Café Book Meeting

Another fun day of interning with CRRL consisted of a visit to Walker Grant Middle School. I teamed up with the CRRL staff worker who serves as the liaison between the public schools and the local library. We were to meet with the middle school librarian and help run Café Book, an extracurricular academic group for students interested in reading outside of class.

I was happy to see the higher security exercised as I entered the school. I had to use the intercom, get buzzed in, and check in at the front desk before I could even get into the rest of the school. It may not seem like much, but it is better that being able to walk in without restraint. It is important, considering America’s history, to be safe and have procedure.

The Walker Grant library was beautiful. World flags hung silently from the ceiling, and the books loudly waited on the shelves, begging for students to give them a tickle.

When the first group of 7th and 8th graders filed into the library and sat at the open tables, they stared at me. The liaison introduced me, naming me and my status as a senior at the university. One of the girls spoke:

“What are you studying?!” she piped.

“I am a double major…” The students grew considerably wide-eyed. “I study English Literature and Classical Civilizations. So I love books, ancient Rome, ancient Greece, and of course writing.” I was honestly surprised and happy that the kids were interested in me – and I thought that in some ways I was advocating for college, asserting how worth and fun it is. I told them so much.

The Café Book meetings (there were two, one for each lunch period) were relaxed and pleasant. I liked talking with the school librarian and CRRL’s liaison. The kids were interesting and smart – I even saw one of the girls I helped tutor at Hazel Hill the year before.[i] I loved the fact that the students who showed up for the Café Book meetings were there because they wanted to be, not because they were going to receive a grade or because they were required to participate.

At the end of the second session, one of the 8th grade girls asked the school librarian if there was a Café Book in the high school. The school librarian said there was not. I spoke.

“Why not start one of your own?” The girl looked at me, replied, and the last thing I heard as she scurried off after her three friends she had sat at the table with was “Hey guys! What if we started…” I hope I planted a seed. I saw my purpose in that moment, and I hope I moved someone.

[i] Hazel Hill is a government subsidized living community in Fredericksburg. I volunteered at the community center for three semesters, tutoring and helping K-8th graders with their homework and projects. I became familiar with the local middle and elementary schools in the Fredericksburg area because of this volunteering, and it actually helped me later when I worked on the book project with the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL and discussed the schools the books would be sent to.

Staff Workshop Training: Diversity and Leadership in the Workplace

CRRL Staff Training Meeting – Diversity

Speaker: Mauricio Velasquez; president and CEO of The Diversity Training Group

One of the biggest learning experiences I had while interning at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library was sitting in on the monthly staff meetings. I only wish there had been more that I had gone to, since I was only able to attend the ones in February and March. The first one I attended was phenomenal.

The topics and themes that were covered included diversity, leadership, respect and professionalism in the workplace; human relations, bias and prejudice, and interpersonal communications were also touched on throughout the session. Here are the bits I absorbed, which inspired me to behave and labor differently in the workplace:

 

“The best people take responsibility and apologize.”

What you see first: Age, gender, race, ethnic heritage, mental/physical abilities

What you learn later: Work style, work experience, operational role and level, communication style, education, religion, language, geographical location

The dimensions of diversity are the Individual, the Group, and the Organizational Affiliation.

On Being A Good (or Better) Leader:

“Stop talking yourself out of what you behaved yourself into.”

The SEVEN most important words:

“HOW CAN WE WORK TOGETHER MORE EFFECTIVELY?”

The TWO most important words:

“THANK YOU” or “I’M SORRY”

The ONE most important word:

“WE”

The LEAST important word:

“I”

I began to look at the workplace differently, and decided that if and when I ever acquire a “work space” of my own, I want it to be comfortable, respectful, efficient, and led by good leaders. I also realized that I can apply this attitude even in my own “work places” currently – even if that space is behind the counter at the local café. Even the humblest places – or wherever service and hard work are taking place – deserve good leadership and a respectful atmosphere.

Youth Services Book Project

For several weeks of my time at CRRL, I worked with the Youth Services Coordinator on organizing and taking inventory of the books that would potentially be put into the schools for the coming academic year. These books were usually advanced copies, meaning their release dates had either just past, or they would be released in the coming months. I spent many hours taking down the author’s names, book titles, release dates, and tag words that would help categorize the books into genres and theme-related groups. I also spent a considerable amount of time researching the credible reviews of each of the books. This would allow the school librarians to get a feel for the book, and help them come to a conclusion about whether they would consider the book for the next academic year.

I learned how to read the publisher’s notes, the author’s descriptions of their work as well as  about themselves. The authors tried hard to be whimsical in depicting themselves and their lives, attempting to have the reader, or in this case, the librarian, remember them. I wrote a few ideas about how I would go about writing a publisher’s note or an authorial blurb about myself, if and when I ever write and publish a book.

The YS Coordinator also taught me some valuable lessons about the separation of public library and school:

School: there is a responsibility for the school (middle or high) librarian and teacher to censor – or at least take into consideration – the materials they provide or make available for the young students. Schools express a sense of restraint on behalf of the age demographic they serve.

Local public library: There is a legal, social, and employment obligation for the freedom of information. Librarians cannot deny anyone a book or body of information if they are asked by a patron or customer. Here’s an example: If a child that may be below the age group of young adult fiction comes to a public librarian and asks for a copy of The Hunger Games, that librarian cannot and will not deny putting that book in the hands of that child. Where this gets tricky is when parents or various patrons fail to see that withholding information from someone is not ethical in the mind and eyes of the faculty at the library. The biggest difference is that local, public libraries have a set of ethical, moral and employee-related codes that all faculty must follow, that often differ for public schools. The demographic of patrons, students and customers also differ. The schools cater to a certain age group, while libraries are open to any and all people regardless of age group.

Internship Introduction

I wanted to make a space to talk about my internship experience this past spring at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library (CRRL). In the coming posts, I’ll outline things I learned, reflections I have about the now completed experience, and thoughts about interning in general. My internship started in mid-January, and concluded last week, on April 21st.

I was researching internship possibilities in and around my school’s area in November of 2016. I wanted a location close by, since I knew I’d still be a full-time student. I did not see the logic in having an internship in either Richmond or Washington, both being a good hour or more from my current living situation. I think I got lucky in finding the internship opportunity on CRRL’s website, and getting connected with the individuals that would become my mentors and supervisors. The Headquarters library location is in Old Town (Downtown) Fredericksburg, right off Caroline Street, the Rappahannock river flowing agile behind the square brick building. This was my primary home base for my internship throughout the semester, though there are several other CRRL locations in and around Stafford, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg.

I had only a few low-hanging goals and outcomes that I wanted when I decided to pursue an internship:

-class credit from my university

-an experience that was more real-world, and that I didn’t need a classroom and professor in order to gain knowledge or experience

-a reason to buy and wear professional clothes (I realize that’s a shallow reason, but it was a reason for me nonetheless J )

-After putting the possibility of working in a local library on the table, becoming a better researcher made it onto the list of goals. This goal would be better developed because of this interning experience, but also due to the fact that I signed up for a senior thesis-writing class in Classics, which forced me to become better at asking questions and seeking answers.

Those were honestly the only ones I went into the experience with. I think I thought setting the bar low would allow for learning and lessons to come more organically to me, and for experience to grasp me in a more surprising way. So, I bought some new clothes and got ready to ask a lot of questions.