My name is Jessica Hopper and my major is History with a minor in Library Media Education. During the spring 2016 semester I began an internship at WKU’s Library Special Collections. My internship has given me new insights into how different departments within the library operate and what I might expect in my future library career. I would absolutely recommend a similar internship to any WKU student; it has given me plenty of hands-on experience that I can use in future classes and employment. Not only does a student get to work in an environment similar to a potential library position, they are also acquiring skills essential for future employment such as use of the collections management software Past Perfect. In addition to gaining work experience, I received a $500 scholarship which is named for long-time Special Collections professor Connie Mills.
During my internship I worked in Library Special Collections’ three units: Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, WKU Archives, and Kentucky Library Research Collections (KLRC). While in Manuscripts I worked on a collection of World War II letters that were written by a sergeant stationed at Fort Knox to his beloved fiancé and future wife. I read each letter and jotted down important information that the letter contained in order to describe the collection in Past Perfect. In the WKU Archives I worked on a collection that contained documents that were still unorganized. I arranged, foldered, and boxed the material by date for permanent storage. The last department that I worked in was the KLRC, in which I focused on newspapers. I organized boxes of newspapers published in the Bowling Green area in order to provide better access for the library’s staff and patrons. I created a spreadsheet listing the titles and dates, which can eventually be used to complete the processing of that collection.
While working in the different units, I learned how each type of document is preserved. Most of the smaller documents are kept in acid-free folders to prevent further damage. Once a collection has multiple folders it is then placed in boxes that will keep the collection together. Bigger items, such as posters, are kept in mapcases so that they can be laid flat in order to keep their shape and prevent creases and tears. Newspapers are also kept flat and in oversized boxes for the same reasons. I was not aware of these preservation techniques prior to my internship. I value the information I have learned as it will be a very important when seeking future employment. As far as future classes, my internship has increased my skills in researching and utilizing primary source material.
The Connie Mills Special Collections Internship allows an undergraduate student to have a working, hands-on experience in the Department of Library Special Collections (DLSC) at Western Kentucky University. Emphasis is placed on processing projects within the department. Interns are given an orientation to all three departmental units. The fund honors Constance Ann Mills (1944-2013), who spent twenty-five years employed in WKU’s Library Special Collections. Information about the internship can be provided to students by contacting Jonathan Jeffrey, the Department Head for Special Collections at 270-745-5265 or firstname.lastname@example.org