Intern’s Perspective | Jess Elder

November 17, 2017

During my junior year here at Cedarville, I remember nervously walking into the Library Careers Dinner. I’m not sure if I was more relieved or frightened when I discovered that there were assigned seats, and that I was seated next to Julie Deardorff, Director of Library Collection Services. Julie was more than kind, and addressed me by name, as if we were old friends. She asked why I chose to attend the dinner, and I responded with my love of reading. As a junior student and English major, I was beginning to feel the mounting pressure regarding my future schooling and career. I remember telling Julie that I just loved to read, and wasn’t sure how that would translate to a career. I was curious to see if a library career would fit that bill. I also distinctly remember listening to my fellow English majors, three of whom happened to be library interns that semester, present at the dinner. I remember thinking that could not possibly be me.

Well, here I am, a year later, and I am in the exact pair of shoes that I couldn’t possibly picture myself wearing, occupying the position of library intern. God seemed to have a different plan for my life than I did, and in hindsight I’m so glad He did. I actually missed the initial deadline to apply for this internship; I didn’t think it would be a viable option for me. I distinctly remember receiving an email a few months later from Julie, which stated that an intern had to drop out due to studying abroad, and that a position was open. She encouraged me, as well as other students to apply. Still feeling that dark cloud of an unknown future hanging over my head, I took a chance and applied, and got accepted. In all my prayers regarding my future, God seemed to be opening and pushing me through this particular door.

In fact, God opened two doors. This past summer, I also received another unexpected internship at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, located in Hamilton, Ohio. Pyramid Hill is an outdoor park with large abstract sculptures, which also includes a small museum building that houses over seventy ancient Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Egyptian sculptures. It is in this small museum that I interned, cataloging each piece and creating a database system from the ground up. Little did I know, this was God’s way of planting a seed within me that would eventually begin to flower during my library internship.

During my time at Pyramid Hill, I discovered my love of research. I so enjoyed discovering new things about each artifact, and using my organization skills to catalog them. Despite my appreciation for art, it was a little outside of my wheelhouse as an English major, and I knew I desired to be around books. Then came my discovery of the research librarians through my internship here. In working with Kirsten, Joe, and Kristi, I discovered the wonderful world of academic research librarianship, which wrapped up my love for books and research all into a nice little packaged career. It has been a pleasure to work with them and to discover more about their jobs and responsibilities.

Touring the archives and special collections with Dean Lynn Brock also showed me how my love for artifacts and old books could translate to a career in the library world. It was fascinating to see the history of the town of Cedarville, as well as the institution, be preserved and remembered in such a way. To see physical mementos of a time gone by was such a privilege. I also about passed out in excitement when Mr. Brock showed us the special collections, which houses old Bibles and an autographed copy of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, among other old books and manuscripts. Archives and special collections seem to be the perfect way for me to continue to preserve the humanities in a future career.

I have loved every aspect of this internship. From learning more about libraries in general, to working with the incredible faculty and staff, to writing book reviews, to participating in an instruction session, to buying books for the collection, I have experienced so much and have made life-long relationships. Even more so, this internship has been a blessing in that it has provided a sure path for me in regards to future schooling and a career. After graduation, I plan on attending graduate school to receive an MLS/MLIS degree, and I plan on pursuing a career as an academic research librarian and/or a job in a museum setting. Overall, my takeaway from this internship would be that libraries are so much more than they appear; they have incredible opportunities, resources, and events to offer anyone and everyone, which people should be aware of and take advantage of, but certainly not for granted!

Posted in: ,