Caitlin Kelley says she wants to be a librarian to “connect people with information they need to live their best lives.” On the way to her goal, she spent a week at the National Library of Medicine.
Kelley was one of eight library students who came to NLM as part of an alternative spring break program offered by their schools. While the library has been participating in such programs for several years, this was the most extensive effort yet. NLM hosted students from the University of Michigan the first week in March; the University of Kentucky the second week; and the University of Illinois the third week.
The internships give students a taste of work life and an opportunity to expand their horizons, says Kathel Dunn, who coordinates NLM’s Associate Fellowship Program. “Since we’re not a traditional library, the students get a broad scope. They’re exposed to research and development, extramural programs, and information policy, for example.”
The interns were paired with people throughout NLM and assigned to work on a specific project. They also met with Library Operations senior staff and toured the library and lunched with NLM’s current Associate Fellows.
Kelley spent her week with NLM’s Division of Extramural Programs (EP), which is creating a mechanism to track the outcomes of NLM-funded grants. “Being able to point to concrete results is important and it’s been wonderful to be a part of that process,” she says. Kelley, a University of Michigan student, is getting an MLS and a graduate certificate in health informatics. She ultimately wants to work as a health sciences librarian.
Student Yungjin Shin is still deciding the focus of her library career. She has two part-time jobs in the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The week at NLM was her first exposure to a health sciences library.
“This is my first semester in library science and I want to have as many experiences as I can,” she says. Shin spent her week with NLM’s National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR). So did University of Kentucky student Alexa Clark, and University of Michigan students Connie Jeng and Andy Lin. They each helped update information on phpartners.org, a Web site with information for the public health work force. Clark says she’s grateful for what she called a once in a lifetime opportunity.
NICHSR librarian Lisa Sedlar worked with all four interns. “I enjoy meeting people at different stages in their library career and helping them explore their options,” Sedlar says. “I appreciated the enthusiasm and dedication they brought to their projects.”
By Shana Potash, NLM in Focus Editor