[Series] So What Do You Do? Virtual Internship for an International Public Library Organization

This post is part of a new series called “So What Do You Do?” in which  LIS students talk about their experiences as interns. We want to showcase the wide range of things people are doing in the world of library and information science.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Jameson Rohrer and I am from Newburgh, Indiana. My undergraduate degree is a B.S. in History and Anthropology from the University of Southern Indiana. I have been working in the library world since I was a senior in high school and I am currently a student at San Jose State’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science.  This spring is my last semester in the program, and although I am exceptionally busy with many projects and assignments I am beyond excited that my graduation is nigh. My interest is in public libraries and I currently volunteer with My Info Quest, an SMS text messaging virtual reference service for 27 libraries, in addition to an internship with the Lubuto Library Project.

The Lubuto Library Project is an international organization that is headquartered in Washington D.C., however the majority of the work actually occurs in the country of Zambia. The Lubuto Library Project works with communities and the lubuto-library-logogovernment of Zambia in establishing public libraries in the rural countryside for the at-risk children. (two libraries so far, with a third in the works) In constructing these public libraries, the organization provides historical preservation of culturally relevant materials, promotion of reading and education services to the children, and also provide a space for social services for their families as a gathering place and safe haven that cannot be underestimated.

So what do you do?

My internship with the Lubuto Library Project is essentially part time, though it is turning into an almost full time position with the assortment of things I am responsible for.  My primary responsibility is aiding the organization in making its website more efficient and organized. This includes renaming many of the reading lessons and removing truncation to make them more easily accessible to the children using the website. I have also been given the outcome of constructing a social media policy for the organization.  The Lubuto Library Project does not have such a document in place currently and it will help the organization greatly to be able to analyze the various social media platforms they currently employ, the audience they seek to reach, the frequency of updates, the number of participants, analytics as to how those participants come across these platforms for the organization, how effective each platform is, and also what social media platforms are not being used and what the pros and cons of those are.

My last main responsibility for the Lubuto Library Project is to draft an official collection development policy.  The majority of the print collections at the two public libraries are from donations (in addition to an assortment of digital materials and resources for the children to access and use). My task is to assimilate all the content in these collections while taking into account the various languages spoken in the country of Zambia and future directions for the physical and digital collections. I was informed by the president of The Lubuto Library Project that this collection development policy will be the first of its kind in the country of Zambia!

Are you finding your coursework helpful in this position? In what way?

Absolutely! The course in Collection Development (LIBR 266) that I took last fall has provided me with extensive knowledge on how a collection development policy is constructed and what its objectives should be. This course also gave me a great feel for how to assess future directions for the collections at the Lubuto Library Project. My coursework in Information and Society (LIBR 200) and Archives and Manuscripts (LIBR 256) provided me with an opportunity to pursue my research interests on the use of social media in a variety of information organizations. From these courses I learned about the multitude of uses for social media in library settings and how each platform can be used to maximize effect for a given organization.  Lastly, my course on Instructional Design (LIBR 250) provided me an opportunity to understand how informational programs and services are designed to help users with comprehension, self-motivation and use of library materials and resources for their diverse and culturally significant informational needs.

What would you say are the lessons you’ve taken away from this internship?

This internship has introduced me to an aspect of the library world that many in the U.S. do not deal with firsthand: the introduction of library materials, infrastructure, and technologies to a geographic location that formerly had severely limited access to any of these points of access we take for granted.

I have also learned how important time management is—specifically, how vital it is to set a schedule to complete the required numbers of hours of internship credit for the MLIS degree—as well as how to collaborate with previous professors to share ideas and learn from their expertise. Lastly, I’ve learned the importance of constant communication to ensure that the work being completed is in sight with what the organization is seeking.

How do you think this will help your career?

Prior to this internship I had only limited classroom experience in creating important documents for libraries. I believe the skills I have developed this semester will aid me greatly in finding employment at a public library—not just here in the U.S., but potentially anywhere in the world where English is spoken and read.  This internship has been an ideal experience to have while in library school because of the ways in which it is beneficial both to myself and the Lubuto Library Project. For my career specifically, I am obtaining first hand experience in drafting important documents, a social media policy and collection development policy which every library today must have in order to function.  Secondly, it will demonstrate my comprehension of ethnically and culturally diverse communities for a public library. This internship will give me valuable experience towards working in a public library in the near future, wherever that may be!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Lubuto Library Project, feel free to connect with the Lubuto Library Project on any of our social media platforms (listed below). It is greatly appreciated!

Interested in sharing your internship experience? Contact us at hacklibschool@gmail.com.

Categories: So What Do You Do?

3 replies

  1. Great spotlight essay, Jameson! Congratulations on such a thick and deep experience. It looks like it gave you the opportunity to assume a tremendous amount of leadership and take lots of professional-level initiative!

    Congratulations for the internship and for finishing your master’s degree!
    ~anthony bernier


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