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Day 5 – Worked 7.25 hours
Total hours thus far: 31.75

Today was an interesting day as I had a mix of completely different things, which is why I love this internship. I get to try out and learn about a bunch of new things and every day is different.

I had a meeting with Ned Quist (Head Librarian of Research and Outreach Services). He coordinates much of what is done at Brown’s libraries and led the Scholarly Resources Meeting I attended so it was great to get a half hour to talk with him and ask questions. I wanted to ask a few follow-up questions about the Scholarly Resources Meeting and he actually asked for my observations right at the beginning of our meeting. I brought up my observations about the reference collection and the conundrum of circulating or non-circulating status for reference materials in the regular stacks. I also asked him about LibGuides and why they didn’t meet the needs of Brown’s online tutorials. He explained that the librarians at Brown create tutorials and there are many factors which they want to control which LibGuides doesn’t allow you to do. One of these factors is they way the guides look. Another question I asked Ned about was in regards to the lack of a reference desk and impact on reference overall and also IM reference. It was interesting to find out that Ned approached the idea of not having a reference desk a bit differently than I had first understood it. While there is no “reference” desk, the circulation desk does handle quite a few reference questions and he noted there are quite a few people who staff the desk and do an excellent job at answering questions. They also refer students to their subject librarian for more in-depth consultations and assistance. I thought this was a different way to think about reference and I was reminded of the great debate in librarianship (particularly academic librarianship) – who should staff the reference desk?

In LSC 522: College and University Library Services we investigated the debate in depth and discovered that there is a mix of arguments. The majority of all academic library reference desks are staffed along the traditional model with a a reference librarian who has an MLS or MLIS. There are some desks who have a referral service and non-MLIS staff who answer basic questions and then refer the user to ask their subject librarian for help with more complex questions. There are some reference desks with a mix of reference librarians and staff. If I remember correctly there were barely any desks who are just staffed by student workers. For a research driven institution such as Brown I am interested to see how the adaptation of the “traditional” model can work for them.

Another item Ned brought to my attention was the fact that the libraries at Brown have their own IT department. I thought the library collaborated with the university’s IT Department. Brown is fortunate to have their own IT department because it enables them to quickly and efficiently produce and create customized online content. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to collaborate with Arlando, who works in the library IT Dept and collaborates with Sarah often. He has a unique combination of skills and works in both graphic design and programming, which is perfect for a project like mine.

Then Sarah gave me a tour of Sciences Library/Friedman Study Center. The building houses the sciences collections, a study center, interlibrary loan office, map collection and the library IT offices. I thought it was different in how the noise levels were assigned on the in the study center. The floor was separated into sections with a decibel level assigned (0, 25 and 50). In theory Sarah said it works, but during finals when the study center is packed it can be tough for students to adhere to the 0 decibel level. The interior design and furniture was really fun, a mix of contemporary new-age and steel with bright green and grey tones. I also liked the sliding doors in the tutoring area which enables the user to open up the space or make it more intimate.

Sarah’s been really great to work with and I would highly recommend Brown as a PFE placement. I am able to independently complete my projects and choose different avenues to explore. Sarah recommended I think of anything that I might be interested in learning more about. She made a few suggestions ranging from Special Collections, to IT work to collaborating with the Writing Center.

I’m starting to think about services to explore and one service of interest that occurred to me was the IM reference service BULChat (BUL stands for Brown University Libraries). I answer questions via IM at both the Reference Desk and the Curriculum Materials Library at URI. I have over a year’s worth of experience in IM reference and know the scope of questions we get at URI. While we do answer general questions, I find we tend to get a lot of in-depth questions that involve databases. I asked Sarah about BULChat and she was more than happy to provide me with a sampling of transcripts. I read through a few questions and found the types of questions to be fairly similar to the ones we get a URI. I’m hoping to get to read more of them over the next week and synthesize some observations.

And lastly, I attend the Brendel Lecture featuring Darrell West. This lecture was celebrating Brown’s 150th anniversary as a Federal Depository. The guest speaker, Darrell West, is the Vice President and Director for Governance Studies and Founding Director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. Prior to his position at Brookings, Dr. West was Professor of Political Science at Brown for 26 years where he also directed the Taubman Center for Public Policy. He is an expert in the areas of government technology policy, e-government, and U.S. campaigns and elections.

Even though this lecture did not directly align with my interests, I was glad I attended because Dr. West was an excellent speaker. He chose to speak about social media outlets, privacy and the government’s role (or lack of) in regulation. His speech was succinct, direct and interesting to a general audience (the event was open to the public). Even though my facebook profile is set to private, a lot of points Dr. West made were important and interesting. I was unaware that the governments of France and Germany choose to regulate internet content and access, whereas here in the United States the government does not play an active role in regulation. I was also moved by Dr. West’s point about the value of information that each person provides on their facebook. In a facebook profile, you can choose to include as much or as little information about your hobbies, interests, political and religious affiliations, marital status, sexual orientation, causes you support, companies you “like,” etc. Corporations would find your profile information to be completely invaluable in their marketing as they would have practically all the information they could ever want about you as a person and your interests. He was explaining that the government is currently not getting too involved in regulating access to social media profiles. They are taking an interest in educating users to make the most informed and best decision for themselves in how they would like to set their own privacy controls.

I was a bit bummed out that the questions after the lecture were more political in nature and centered around the presidential campaign. Dr. West had invited questions about his speech, but also about the presidential campaign and politics in general. I’m just not really into politics, so I didn’t find the Q&A to be as interesting as the lecture. And, ff course, I hadn’t quite processed all of Dr. West’s lecture and thought of a great question that night while I was brushing my teeth. Had I thought of it, I would have asked Dr. West what role he could see libraries having in educating social media users. I might have asked whether or not the government had larger plan for social media education.

Sarah has been awesome and wants me to check out any events at Brown of interest to me. I will try to keep up on other events, but I think I want to check out “The Cave” which a Brown professor uses for interactive writing experiences.

This is the link to events at Brown: