Hack Your Summer: Part Two

Welcome to part two of Hack Your Summer! This is our mini series in which Hack Library School writers share with you some of our tips and tricks for having summer fun and preparing for the upcoming academic year. As always, we welcome comments and tweets, so feel free to share your own tried and true methods with the HLS community.

Question 1:

Are you doing any internships or volunteer work in libraries this summer?


I’m working as a reference intern at Northwestern University this summer and have been answering all sorts of reference questions! The most intriguing inquiry so far has been about the Chappaquiddick Incident, in which Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge and left his companion to drown. I’m also learning to answer live chat questions, which has been interesting – and certainly different from conversing with patrons face to face.


My usual jobs and the dissertation for me this summer,  I’ve not got too much time spare. The committee I chair is doing a lot this summer though, we’re taking over the CILIP student newsletter and we’re starting 23 Library Students, modelled after the 23 Librarians project that started in Scotland.


I’m spending the summer at the University of Michigan Library, leading special projects and providing research services. I get to help visiting SROP undergraduate researchers delve into their first (of hopefully, many) research projects, connect visiting scholars to library resources, and get into special projects in collection development. We’ve recently migrated to an updated LibGuides CMS. I’ll be helping with staff training, UX testing, and database clean up. My side project this past year has been developing an app with a group of friends at UM. We’re working out of a Detroit incubator now and deep in the customer discovery process.


I’ve just started getting involved with a new group called ProjectARCC, comprised of archivists concerned about climate change. Goals for the project include understanding and countering the impact of climate change on archival collections; examining the energy impact and ecological footprint of our work, from facilities to storage to travel; raising awareness about archival collections relevant to climate change; and documenting national, international, and local responses to and impacts of climate change. Read more about the what, why, and how here.

An initial reaction after just several weeks with ProjectARCC: It’s fascinating to consider the range of material that could enrich public understanding of climate change through archival collections. There’s the Old Weather transcription project, working directly with naval weather observations. We may also look to collections like Colorado State University’s Water Resources Archive and the papers and lab notebooks of climate scientists to understand the history of research on climate change and the organizational and political, uh, climate in which that research emerged.

As a former architect and landscape architect, I can’t help seeing design archives as a key part of this initiative as well. How does awareness and understanding of climate change affect how we envision the future built environment? (And, how will future disaster movies envision the devastation of that built environment?) Several members of ProjectARCC are also working directly with climate change awareness groups to provide data management help. Archival material documenting climate change may come from all kinds of sources; which makes sense if we consider how climate change affects all corners of the world.

The project is rolling along, but there are many opportunities to get involved. Start by joining the tweet-up today at 1pm — or catch up later via #preserveclimate.

On a personal note, participating in this kind of work can be tough. It’s entirely on a volunteer basis, and everyone involved is either working or in school full-time. With so many people collaborating for the first time, it takes a lot of cat-herding to keep enthusiasm going and keep the project focused. On the other hand, things can move very quickly in the early stage of a project. I was recently away for six days and it’s taken three more to catch up on ProjectARCC emails. Doing what we can, without wasting time feeling guilty about not doing more, seems like a sustainable approach to volunteer work. It’s amazing that opportunities like this exist to support personally and professionally meaningful causes; but being responsible enough to both contribute significantly and not let everything else fall by the wayside can be a real challenge.


No internships or volunteering for me….just hard library labor. I’m working three and a half jobs this summer. One is a YouTube video series for the Rare Book Library I work in during the year. The other is a new GA position at the Scholarly Commons and the third is a server migration project through Business Information Services. Then I’m processing a comic book collection as part of a practicum in my “free time.” Hard library labor.

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