Collections Intern debrief!

I spent last semester working as a Collections Intern at the Novato Public Library. It was a super cool project: a librarian there, Jen Robinson, got a Eureka grant to change the children's picture book section from a Dewey Decimal system to one sorted into "glades" (ie can't see the forest for the trees), or subjects, to make things easier to find. The stated mission on the website was: -Make it easier for children and parents to find picture books they'll like -Increase circulation of picture books -Involve our community in deciding how best to organize the collection

The project used local partnerships for sorting parties, in which the patrons themselves (the toddlers) sorted books into glades and gave us feedback on the books that were more ambiguous, as well as their favorite books. The idea was to use the Novato and South Novato libraries as pilots with this grant, and then spread system-wide from there if it worked. In the end, we completed two sorting parties, lots of meetings (which were across departments in the Marin system, which doesn't happen very often!), and sorted and categorized most of the children's picture book collection. Next steps are to create a kit and learning commons website, as well as make it go system-wide.

I learned a lot from this project. I got to see the politics of library staff (this project was definitely new and kind of revolutionary, and definitely had some folks that weren't too excited about it: we talked a lot about how to create staff buy-in), how to be flexible (Jen learned she was pregnant soon after starting the grant, the Novato branch got closed for renovations, folks retired, etc etc etc), and I learned about the complications of cataloging and change in a floating system that is part of a consortium. One of the main lessons I learned was also my place in the project. I was volunteering for this work - it was too early in my SLIS times to get credit for an internship, and I wasn't getting paid - but I could find my own passion and excitement for doing something that was community-based and innovative. I also found my place as a visual artist. I designed the logos for the glades, as well as the Junior Librarian badge (we had the Sorting Party participants all take oaths!), and the brochure. I got to listen and learn from librarians in many departments, and in many stages of their careers, about how to implement a project and meet needs across the board while still implementing an innovative project. I tried to contribute create space design ideas for the new "reading destination," and think about fun ways that the kids could participate in the Sorting Parties.

I was very inspired by Jen, who was both funny and relaxed AND a badass librarian who is awesome at her job: looking out for ways to serve her community in creative ways, doing the basics well (storytime, etc, leading staff and taking care of them at the same time, and looking at the long and short term simultaneously. I was also really inspired by my co-intern, Celia, who is the coordinator for the Books for Wider Horizons program and just graduated from SJSU. She is also an artist, and she's a passionate children's librarian. I appreciated her mentoring me and giving me lots of advice. I hope I can mentor someone someday as well! See below for images I designed for the project.