28 Apr 2016

A three-week internship at Boole Library, University College Cork

Guest post by Judith Lanzl. Following her training as a bookseller she started as a student of Library & Information Services, at  University of Applied Sciences for Administration and Legal Affairs in Munich  After six semesters she will finish her studies this autumn.

 Within the scope of my library and information services studies at the University of Applied Sciences for Administration and Legal Affairs in Bavaria I am offered the opportunity of going abroad for three weeks. The university degree takes three years and contains two work placements, one semester each. Having gained work experience at different German libraries (for example Würzburg University Library or Regional State Library of Regensburg), I was very curious about the differences and similarities to the Irish library system and therefore I was looking forward to my time at Boole Library. In early March 2016 the time had finally come.

 Having found the lovely UCC Campus and Boole Library on the first day of my internship, I stood in front of the first but fortunately last (well, maybe except for the English language) obstacle: a closed entrance barrier. But the very friendly security operative “took me by the hand” and pointed me the way. So my work experience could begin - three weeks, three different departments, well-known but also lots of new and interesting information.

 After a tour through the library, my first stop was the Special Collections & Archives department. I learned things about the material there and its appropriate handling, which is, I think, less restrictive than in Germany, as far as I can tell from my other internships. I also got the chance to have a look at a book from the 17th century and a manuscript and to find out all the individual characteristics.
 As a little project, I combined the different stock lists of the map collection to one single list and tried to figure out and add more bibliographic details.

 Another highlight, and an absolutely new experience for me, was using the 3D-printer. After an introduction, I was permitted to print out what I wanted: it was a small elephant which can move its legs – fascinating! I am very curious about the further development regarding the 3D-printer and its fields of application in libraries.

 Getting an impression of the daily work of an archivist was another new experience for me. It was impressive to see all the big boxes with lots of different and unsorted documents and material, all collected by one person, which have to be recorded and arranged in the correct order. By picking out the books, which were intended to be set up separately, I might have been able to make a very, very small contribution to this huge amount of work.

 In addition to introducing me to their fields of work, the colleagues at Boole Library let me take part in their coffee breaks. These were sometimes, or to be honest most of the time, a little bit confusing. Due to my rather limited experience with Irish English, it was very hard to follow the conversation. As soon as I had figured out what they were talking about, they had already moved on to another topic. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed spending the breaks together.

 The first week went by too quickly, but a new department was waiting for me: Collection Services – Content & Access. First of all, I got an introduction to the recently reorganized structure of Boole Library. Then the colleagues showed me how to order books and explained the further work steps to me. Unlike in many German libraries, acquisition and cataloguing are separate subdivisions.

 The topic of one day was the repository CORA, open access and research data management. Another day we talked about the handling of electronic resources.

 In addition to physical work (sorting books), I was also given the opportunity to visit the Library store. A, let me say, very interesting experience.

 Another informative, and because of St. Patrick’s Day short, week ended and my last days at Boole Library approached and there was one last department to visit: Student & Academic Engagement. Inquiries, new external readers, holdings and interlibrary loan – lots of well-known stuff, but with a slightly different handling. To be honest, I was a little bit surprised by the charges external readers have to pay and their limited user rights. I liked the idea of short term loans for four hours when it comes to highly demanded books. The questions patrons ask at the information desk seem to be very similar in different countries, I noticed.

 One afternoon, I got the chance to visit Brookfield Library and to see the workflow of a branch library.

 My three weeks at Boole Library definitely went by too fast. I am very glad about my decision to go abroad for my internship, and especially to go to Ireland and Cork. Very enthusiastic staff who made so much time for me turned my placement into a very instructive and diverse experience. I had a great time at Boole Library. 

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