Internship Reflections by Steven Picazio
As I look back over the semester that I have spent as an intern at the Congregational Library, I am surprised to realize that my time with the library spanned only fourteen weeks. Over the course of that time, I have gained far more knowledge about librarianship and Congregationalism than I could have imagined when I started in late August. When I came to the library, I hoped of gaining some practical experience as a cataloger. Now, I'm leaving, not only with that, but also with a much deeper appreciation for the wide range of work and knowledge that it takes to run a library.
During the course of my internship, I dedicated much of my time to creating and editing bibliographic records for the online catalog. Many of the records I created were for books on the subjects of church art and architecture and for pamphlets on the Catholic Church. The work of producing these records challenged my grasp of cataloging as the library's collection contains so many unexpected surprises. I found myself cataloging resources as diverse as a 17th century tract from London that detailed the objections of early Congregationalists against Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism, to a 20th century book that exhaustively detailed the range of altar designs found in English churches and cathedrals. As someone with a fascination with cataloging work, solving the problem of creating the appropriate records for such varied resources proved extremely rewarding. Each day of the internship, I would find myself learning how to solve different cataloging conundrums. In addition to that, being exposed to these resources afforded me the chance to learn about subjects, like church architecture, of which I had little knowledge. As a result, I came to look forward to encountering each new resource and deepening my scope of knowledge of the art and history of Congregationalism.
In addition to cataloging work, I was also afforded the opportunity to work at the reference desk in the reading room. To my surprise, I found working with patrons and researchers to be a more fulfilling experience than I had initially anticipated. Assisting in the research of the library's visitors not only furthered my knowledge of the library's unique resources, but also gave me a new appreciation for reference librarianship. While, prior to this internship, I had dedicated much of my academic attention to cataloging, I had let my focus on the whole range of librarianship to lapse. Working at the reference desk reawakened my zeal for all types of library work and reminded me why I was attracted to the profession initially.
As the internship comes to a close, I look forward to bringing along the many lessons that I learned at the Congregational Library to wherever the next step my career in the LIS field takes me to. I would like to thank the entire staff of the library, who were always friendly, helpful, and welcoming. I would also like to extend my special thanks to Rachel Moore, who guided me through my work and patiently answered the many cataloging questions that I brought to her. If I continue as a cataloger, I hope that I will be able to emulate her attention to detail and depth of cataloging knowledge in my own career.
-Steven Picazio, Simmons GSLIS Librarianship Intern