Working at the Harrison Public Library has been a fantastic experience, and I am very glad I had the opportunity to pursue it. I not only enjoyed my summer at the library, but also learned quite a bit about both working at a public social justice institution and simply working in general. I truly feel that the time I have spent here has been helpful both for my own personal growth and the organization as a whole.
I have been surprised by how my workload fluctuates from day to day. There are days when I find myself busy from the moment I begin working to the minute I leave, but there are other days when the phrase “hurry up and wait” comes to mind. I do wonder how much of that is because I am, at the end of the day, an intern, and as a result what I can actually provide help with is somewhat limited. It is also true that the nature of my position as a summer intern has made some things surprisingly difficult due to scheduling. For example, I will be finishing my internship a week before the finals of the Battle of the Books trivia competition.
Despite some minor difficulties, I do feel like I have proved helpful for the library. The area I have put the most work and time into this summer has been the aforementioned Battle of the Books trivia competition. It is hard to say how much my presence as a coach has helped the Harrison teams, but I have done what I can to make the experience fun and rewarding, and to set them up for success as much as possible. The younger team has so far gone undefeated, and I am hopeful they can win the whole thing.
Beyond that, a lot of what I have done is time-consuming work that nonetheless needs to get done. It can feel somewhat unglamorous alphabetizing shelves or ensuring that books are labeled correctly, but someone has to do it. I am happy to free up the time of the full librarians to focus on other important work.
I wish I had possessed more confidence at the start of my internship. It took me a few weeks to grow comfortable working with kids, and also in asking for help or more work when it seems like there is nothing for me to do. It can be anxiety-inducing to take that initiative, especially when you have just started working and do not know your boss or colleagues well. Even so, once I began taking the initiative, I found a much wider variety of projects to sink my teeth into, and I developed a closer relationship with my coworkers.
For anyone looking to intern at or work at a library, I think it is important to consider what you want out of the experience. If you just want an excuse to spend time surrounded by books, I would recommend first volunteering to see how you enjoy it. While the main part of the job involves books, of course, I have found that a lot of the job is focused on community outreach. A library is a community center, after all. Still, if you enjoy books and want to really engage with a community, interning at a library can be an incredibly rewarding experience.