Student Nichole Lemcke Explored Veterinary Records Management in Disney's Animal Kingdom Internship

Student Nichole Lemcke spent her last semester at SJSU SLIS as a veterinary records management intern at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, where she collected and maintained records for nearly 2,000 animals.

Lemcke, who graduated in May 2012, temporarily relocated from California to Florida for the Spring 2012 semester to work in the full-time paid internship position. “I really love animals and wildlife conservation, and I hope to eventually work in a zoo library,” she said.

As a veterinary records management intern, Lemcke tracked data for all 250 animal species in the park, from giraffes to tree kangaroos to naked mole rats. She also monitored information for animals at the Animal Kingdom’s Tri-Circle D Horse Ranch, Epcot’s Living Seas aquarium, Disneyland Park, and Disneyland Paris.

Lemcke’s job involved creating accession records for every new animal that arrived in or was born in the parks, and she often processed 10-15 new animals per day during the busy spring season. She collected and reported lab test results, conducted research for the veterinary team, and gave weekly presentations to park guests about veterinary records management. Lemcke also donned an animal keeper uniform to track native wildlife in the Disney wilderness preserve.

With a lifelong interest in animals and work experience in corporate records management, Lemcke was ideally suited for the position. She learned about the internship through a mentor at the San Diego Zoo Library, an SJSU SLIS alum who provided advice and resources for entering this unique area of library and information science.

Lemcke holds an undergraduate degree in sociology from California State University, Fullerton, where she discovered an interest in helping classmates locate articles and information. She enrolled at SJSU SLIS in Fall 2008 and gravitated towards the archives career pathway.

“While all of my classes have been valuable, I’m finding that the one that I refer to the most for information is Preservation Management (LIBR 259) with instructor Vicky McCargar,” Lemcke said. “She focused on digital records and digital preservation, and in my internship and in all my other classes, knowledge of electronic records and file migration has been incredibly important.”

A past banking and records administrator for a political campaign finance firm in Southern California, Lemcke was able to apply her MLIS coursework and records management skills to her work at the Animal Kingdom. However, she did discover one difference in working with veterinary records. “Librarians might deal with damaged books, and if you’re an archivist you might handle paper with mold or other kinds of debris on it,” Lemcke said. “But if you’re working with medical records for animals, you get a very special kind of debris on your paper. You don’t know what it is, and you don’t really want to ask!”

Lemcke graduated from SJSU SLIS in Spring 2012, and plans to explore careers in zoo librarianship or corporate media librarianship.