Virtual Internship Enables iSchool Student Karen Scott to Conduct Research on Digital Resource Policy

Community Profile

MLIS student Karen Scott jumped at the chance to complete a virtual internship at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) during the Spring 2012 semester. Through informal interviews with librarians and archivists from eight different libraries, she conducted extensive research on public library policies and best practices regarding digital resources. Additionally, she cataloged 114 postcard scans for the SFPL History Center and attended the Digital Public Library of American (DPLA-WEST) event, which coincided with her on-site presentation at SFPL.

As part of the 75th anniversary celebration for the Golden Gate Bridge, SFPL asked Scott to catalog a collection of postcard scans featuring images of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. These scans were selected from SFPL’s larger collection by the National Parks Service. An avid postcard collector, Scott utilized her experience to assist the library in this endeavor. She said, “It’s fun to spend time with someone else’s collection.”

Although Scott greatly enjoyed her cataloging project, she is most proud of her recommendation report on digital resources policy and best practices in public libraries. Throughout the semester, Scott communicated with peer libraries from across the country to compile data regarding digital resource policies. “I enjoyed talking to the librarians and archivists and finding out what issues they were grappling with. People were very friendly and helpful,” she said.

Her research altered the course of her report as she quickly discovered that most libraries do not have formal digital resources polices in place. As a result, Scott shifted the report’s focus to why this was so, and to how SFPL might address some of those issues.

Scott was able to use her findings on digital resource policies to write an extensive recommendation report that she then summarized in a presentation. Although she lives in Southern California, Scott traveled to San Francisco for several days so that she could meet her internship supervisor, present her findings in person, and attend DPLA-WEST. “The response from SFPL was positive, and I was very happy that they’d found my presentation helpful and informative,” Scott said.

Having spent most of her career working in an academic library, Scott was interested in gaining more varied experience through an internship and thought the virtual route would best suit her already hectic life. She attended the site supervisor panel presentation during fall 2011 and was hooked on the idea of completing a virtual internship with SFPL. She described the process as very flexible and explained that “once you apply, they match you up with the most appropriate person for the type of work that interests you.”

Scott began her MLIS degree in January of 2007 and has been taking classes that she feels will be useful in as many different library settings as possible. She has greatly enjoyed being able to take one class at a time throughout the program and has appreciated the opportunity to apply what she learns in class to her current position in cataloging at the UC Irvine Ayala Science Library.