Course Instructor and Title:
Dr. Tula Giannini, Dean Pratt-SILS
LIS 698 Seminar and Practicum, Fall 2012
Supervisor and Site Location:
Brigette C. Kamsler
Burke Theological Library Archives at Union Theological Seminary
New York City, New York 10027
Creating Mutually Beneficial Internships: Lessons from the Ecumenical Collections at
the Burke Library Archives.
In the process of my studies at Pratt I have found that I have a great interest in special collections (art, rare books, archives, ephemera, etc…) librarianship. Going to graduate school in New York City is a boon for anyone interested in special collections, not only is the city filled with libraries, archives, museums and art galleries, but I have had the opportunity to learn from amazing people in some amazing places. I have been able to have classes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at the Main Branch of NYPL, I have interned at the Frick Collection and at Poets House. I am able to get a masters degree in Library Science and History of Art from the same school. However, I felt that I was severely lacking knowledge in one area of special collections and that was in archives. I have used them and I know the importance they hold, but I have never been able to do any of the behind the scenes work with an archival collection. I have taken an archives class, but it didn’t involve much hands on experience. I want to take the theoretical knowledge that I learned in that class and apply it, see how it works in the real world and at the same time gain a better understanding of how to structure an internship that is mutually beneficial for both the student and the institution. I feel that all too often institutions look on interns as free labor and not as a teaching opportunity and that students look for internships not to learn but to have names on a resume. I want to learn not only how to process a collection, but to observe my supervisor and learn how make an internship into an enjoyable learning experience. I think learning both those things will be advantageous to my skills as a special collections librarian and for becoming a good manager.