Student Kayleigh Weeks Explores Reference Work During Archives Internship

Student Kayleigh Weeks discovered a love for reference services during her Summer 2011 internship at Ohio’s Western Reserve Historical Society.

“Reference work is an opportunity for me to keep learning as I’m working with patrons,” said Weeks, who also enjoys the detective work involved in tracking down information. “When patrons are researching, I’m also researching and learning with them.”

As a reference intern for the Western Reserve Historical Society’s large Library and Archives Center, Weeks staffed the reference desk two days per week and helped visitors locate information resources. She was also tasked with assisting the research services department, where she conducted research for out-of-state and international patrons.

“I searched our collections for certain information, for example, correspondence from Prohibition Bureau agent Eliot Ness about the infamous Torso murders in Cleveland,” Weeks said. “One of my favorite research experiences was holding a letter written by Abraham Lincoln; it was really amazing to see such an important piece of history.”

With an undergraduate degree in History from California State University Long Beach, Weeks originally entered the library and information science field to explore career possibilities in research and archival work. She decided to enroll at SJSU SLIS in Spring 2011 because our School’s fully online program would allow her to continue her studies, despite a planned move from California to Ohio.

Weeks learned about the internship program at the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) during a job search she conducted after moving to Ohio in April 2011. The WRHS is the largest privately-supported regional historical society in the country, with over 20 million items in its collections, and it offers undergraduate and graduate internship opportunities in all aspects of its work.

Along with opportunities for practical experience, the WRHS internship program gave Weeks the chance to attend weekly seminars with students and professionals on topics like genealogical research, grant-writing, collection management, and budgeting for a non-profit organization.

Weeks enjoyed her reference internship experience so much she decided to explore the different SLIS Career Pathways for reference librarians, and enrolled in Professor Michelle Holschuh Simmons’ LIBR 210: Reference Services class in Fall 2011.

“I’m really enjoying her class; she’s a great professor, and I’m learning about so many different resources that I didn’t know existed,” Weeks said.

Weeks is already finding her internship to be beneficial in her current MLIS coursework. She’s been able to base course projects for LIBR 204 and LIBR 210 on the WRHS Library, and has shared her experiences with other students in class discussions. In turn, she’s looking forward to using new skills from her Reference Services course when she returns to the Library as a volunteer next summer. “I’m so excited to go back in June and apply everything that I’m learning,” Weeks said.