Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Internship in the Outer Banks: Learning from Leaders

This past week ended with a two-day visit from the Special Collections Section Head for the State Archives of North Carolina, Judy Allen Dodson. Earlier in the week she had led a virtual monthly staff meeting, and I was impressed by how encouraging and supportive she and the rest of the archivists were. They genuinely wanted to learn more about the projects their colleagues across the state were working on and nerded-out together over new acquisitions like a collection of Civil War era photographs and sheet music from a nineteenth century Black composer. Used to the endless complaining and storm-cloud-gathering of department meetings from when I was a high school teacher, the enthusiasm for work and the curiosity about their colleagues took me by surprise. 

Later that week when Judy came to visit, all of her joy for her work doubled in-person. She took the time to really listen to each staff member, asked detailed questions to understand ways she could better support each member in their specific roles, and added in doses of humor. Although I don’t think I’ll have room in my schedule to take the course Collaboration and Leadership (LIS 532V), Judy proved an excellent model of how to balance the bureaucratic side of management without losing her joy for the nitty-gritty work of archival practice. Additionally, Judy also writes chapter books for young readers with her most recently published novel about a family living through Hurricane Katrina and another on the way about tennis pioneer Aurther Ashe. Before my internship ends, I am looking forward to speaking more with her about the intersection of her professional work as an archivist with her creative writing. I am taking the course Book Publishing and Librarianship (LIS 420), and I hope that my discussions with Judy will enhance my learning in the fall. 

My experience this summer meeting a variety of archivists with different backgrounds has reinforced the value of summer interning in my mind. Of course, I could have used my summer to get through an extra course (and lighten my load my last semester when I am writing my History thesis) or to work tons of hours to save up for the school year, but the people that I have met and the wisdom I have gained by learning from their own experiences has made this summer internship a worthwhile investment to me. With only four weeks left in which to finish processing my collection, I hope that I can continue to soak up all the experiential learning possible before it’s back to Boston!