This blog post was authored by Kellie Jewell Gleason, an intern in the Library’s Special Collections unit from the Louisiana State University School of Library and Information Science in Summer 2019.
I am currently a student at Louisiana State University (LSU), pursuing a Masters degree in Library and Information Sciences (MLIS), with a focus on Archival Studies. I am also working to concurrently earn a Graduate Certificate of Archival Studies (CARST) along with my MLIS. For my degree, an internship wasn’t a requirement, but an option. But I felt that gaining real-world experience through an internship at an organization with an archival department would allow me to graduate with working knowledge, instead of just a theoretical academic background, and enable me to enter the workforce with the ability to perform as a more knowledgeable professional in my field. And my internship at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s (UTC) Special Collections department has done just that.
When searching for an internship for the summer of 2019 I included many different types of organizations such as libraries, universities, government organizations and private institutions. I also performed a nationwide search in order to ascertain the best possible options. I was very impressed with the Special Collections department at UTC and the timely and helpful communication with Carolyn Runyon, who would become my internship supervisor. I was able to work with Carolyn to create a very detailed plan of work for my internship that addressed all of the elements I wanted included within my archival internship project, and my Internship Advisor at LSU was very happy with the structure we created for my plan of work.
Through my internship I was able to apply all that I have learned so far in graduate school to a real archival collection, including both the physical and intellectual arrangement of a collection. I gained experience working with professionals in the field, and was able to observe the daily activities of an archival department while working on assessing and processing an archival collection. My project also included the collection of metadata while adhering to proper archival and organizational standards, creating a complete finding aid using ArchivesSpace, the development of historical and scope and content notes describing the materials at the collection level, creating container lists and properly labeling and storing the archival collection.The internship work did give me some challenges, which I had expected, but those challenges gave me an opportunity to learn and to grow. The staff of the Special Collections department was very knowledgeable and helped to guide me to the successful completion of my project. I am very happy that I selected this internship and I feel that I am now much more qualified to enter into the archival professional upon graduation in December of 2019.