Student and Virtual Intern Madeline Pena Helps Launch New YouTube Channel for the San Francisco Public Library

Community Profile

After years of creative experience in the fields of marketing, graphic design, and television production in the Dominican Republic, student Madeline Pena applied her talent stateside at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) during a spring 2012 virtual internship. As their Social Media Strategy Intern, Pena helped rebrand and launch the SFPL YouTube channel.

“I don’t know how many library websites and YouTube channels I visited,” Pena said, describing the hours spent researching best practices for public libraries and online video sharing. She created spreadsheets to track strategies, catalog video content, and highlight outstanding examples. With the knowledge gained from her course work on social media and emerging technologies, Pena noted that SFPL’s strategy needed a more social aspect since most videos were only available on the library website. She made the recommendation to create a new YouTube channel. Upon approval, Pena produced all the playlists, created metadata, selected video screenshots, and designed a placeholder background until the official one was made.

She felt happy to go above and beyond her virtual internship requirements, visiting SFPL towards the end of the semester to make her recommendation in person. “I wanted to go that extra step and meet them,” said Pena, who currently lives in Los Angeles, CA. Her day at SFPL included attendance at the monthly all-staff meeting, training for their content management system, and lunch with her site supervisor. “It was just an awesome experience, touring the library and being introduced to everyone.” Pena also volunteered to work on the YouTube channel until it went live in October 2012, well after the internship ended. “I couldn’t just leave it unfinished,” she said.

Pena took an active approach to bridging the distance in her virtual internship, participating in weekly telephone meetings with her site supervisor. She also attended team meetings via conference call, appreciating the opportunity to work with professionals who took her recommendations seriously. “The library did not have a ‘Connect with Us’ social media tab on its website,” Pena said. “I sent my site supervisor some examples of other libraries using this feature, and a few days later a new ‘Connect with Us’ link was added to the library’s homepage.”

As a full-time employee and single mother, Pena loved the flexibility that a virtual internship provided. “I don’t have the time for a regular internship,” she explained. She found SFPL’s video presentation eye-catching and found a site that could put her passion and creativity to work.

The internship made a lasting impression. “I really felt a connection to SFPL. I still feel like a part of them,” Pena said. “It was definitely the highlight of my iSchool experience.”

Pena enrolled in our school’s MLIS program in spring 2010 and will complete her classes in fall 2012. She currently works for the Los Angeles Public Library in their Multilingual Acquisitions Department, where she contributes behind the scenes and on camera. Her dream job in librarianship will allow her to utilize the full range of her creative skills while continuing to serve the Spanish-speaking community.