My first assignment for my foundations class was to tour a library and interview a librarian. I naturally chose a librarian who had a MA in Art History in addition to the MLIS. She was really informative and helpful and suggested another librarian on campus who could probably use my help. I waited a few weeks and finally made the contact. I contacted the art bibliographer on campus who had just assumed the position and really needed help assessing the strengths and weaknesses of our university library’s art collection. I would be able to perform the majority of the work on my own time from home or in the evenings or weekends. Thus, the perfect internship for my ability and my interests was born. I plan to set aside about five hours per week until the end of the year. I plan to enroll in Collection Development at my school this fall so this internship will be the perfect project. I’m excited to get started!

Last week was my first week and it was rather uneventful. Since I’m a full time employee at the university, they have to get special permission and approval from HR. Everything looks good and the paperwork should be finalized soon. We decided to begin with the Asian art collection in the library. Why? Well, it starts with A for one, but it has been neglected because for a while there was no Asian art expert on campus. The School of Art has since employed an Asian art specialist, however, so it’s a good time to re-assess the collection and direct funds to strengthening it. You see, faculty play a strong role in a library’s collections. If there is no one to use the books and resources in a special area, then there probably isn’t a good reason to use precious and limited library funds on building a particular collection. Even if a research library is committed to maintaining a rarely used collection and has the funds to do so, things can slip through the cracks when faculty are not around to request new publishings and resources.

The librarian who will be supervising and overseeing my internship asked me to come up with a list of goals I hoped to accomplish during the next nine months or so. I found this post on Hack Library School about what one does in a historical collection evaluation to be invaluable. The first place we plan to start is by cross-examining the citations on the Asian art faculty member’s dissertation. I had to ILL the dissertation because our university does not own it and it was unavailable online. So that’s why this week was uneventful. :) After we comb through the dissertation, we plan to move on to his publications. We contacted the professor and let him know that we are going to extensively assess the Asian art collection and compare it to his work and research interests so that he has the opportunity to provide feedback and his own evaluation of the collection. Here are the other tasks I plan to tackle during this internship:

1. Research LCC subject headings, beginning with Asian art
2. Compare Dr. X’s (not revealed due to privacy), the Asian art specialist, citations and research to what we own in our collection
3. Assess the collections of other schools with PhD art programs who have an Asian art specialist
4. Research best practices for collection development of art history and fine arts materials
5. Establish evaluation criteria
6. Document evaluation in spreadsheets
7. Flag titles for preservation
8. Write bibliographies for ancient art titles (A special task for the ancient art collection since that’s my background and research interest)
9. Research and implement practical ways of increasing patron access to the art collections (office hour in the School of Art, lib guides, Twitter, webpages, etc. ?)

I don’t know if I will have weekly updates for my internship, but I do plan to blog about the process for anyone who is interested in collection development and a similar internship! I encourage you to approach the collection development department in your library and ask if they need help. Librarians are eager to recruit library students for free labor and in return you can get great experience. It’s a win-win situation!