Reflections on a Library Internship

11.13.2013

It seems like just yesterday that I pulled up to UD with a car full of clothes and bedding, ready to start a new school year. But the recent cold snap has reminded me that a – I forgot my winter coat at my parents’ house, and b – the semester is almost over. Therefore, a blog post seems like a good opportunity to both work some feeling back into my fingers and reflect on the past couple of months.

This has been the first semester of college where I’ve been able to hold a job that’s similar to what I want to do for a career, and it’s been an amazing experience. Working in the US Catholic Special Collection, combined with the research seminar and career seminar classes I took for my History major, has really proven to me that what I do here at the library is what I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.

In my research seminar, I’ve been working on a paper about a controversial museum exhibit, and the effects it’s had on the field of public history. One thing I’ve tried to focus on in the paper is how the museum curators tried to make what they were presenting accessible to the public. They did their best to give what they thought was a fair and accurate representation of facts and events, and tried to help their audience understand what was being presented.

This paper, combined with the work I’ve done in the USCSC has really introduced me to the world of making history accessible to people. I wrote about this earlier when I was doing translating work, and since then, my appreciation for accessibility has only grown. I’ve discovered I’m really passionate about educating people about history, especially local history. One thing that I’ve realized I like is exploring ways to put museum or archive collections online for people to look at in a way that’s similar to how they’d be presented in person. In fact, I like this topic so much that I’ve decided to write an Honors thesis about it. Because of my work in the library, I not only know more about the topic, I also established contacts that can help me with my thesis process. That’s right – I networked. The things you learn in career seminars help in real life!

My semester in the USCSC has been more than just a job for me. It’s been a way to gain experience in a field I’d like to spend the rest of my life in. It’s been a way to explore a topic I can write a thesis on. It’s been a way to learn more about the history of the city of Dayton and some of the experiences of Catholics in the US. It’s been a way for me to gain contacts in my career field. And as the semester winds down, I know it’s been an experience I wouldn’t change for the world.

- Maddie McDermott ‘15, U.S. Catholic Special Collections Intern

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