Day 1: Two Worlds

This semester I’ll be doing a dual or split internship, which means that I’ll divide my time between two different library settings.  Until I actually went to campus, however, I didn’t realize how different they were, and how the dual nature of the internship will allow me to plant a foot in each.

One half of my time will be spent in the university’s main library, which for all the technology humming through the building, is still heavily weighted towards books.  Go up into the stacks, and you’re surrounded by books.  The place smells like books.  I got a tour of the acquisitions and cataloging departments, and everywhere were people whose skills revolve around books:  selecting them, binding them, labeling them, classifying them, and even sorting and discarding them.  I was shown into areas of the library I had never seen before, following a back staircase from floor to floor.  Behind one windowless door were ranks of wooden card-catalogue drawers filled with cards–a shelf listing of (presumably) all the books in the library.  My mouth must have hung open.  Wow.

Then I was whisked away to the other venue for my internship, a learning commons where the digital library resides.  The digital library is true to its name, for everything is based on the computer–no more books and words and pages, but rather technology and information and the Internet.  Everything is wired.  As I passed among banks of computers, the force of the contrast between these two vastly different environments began to hit me.  I felt it, an effect that two years of coursework had not yet produced.

So, while my internship is based in a university library, I’ve already experienced how diverse that environment can be.  It’s not hard to figure out which setting feels more comfortable to me, but I wonder how that will change as the semester wears on.

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Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 2:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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