Works and Days

Astronomy at the University of Michigan: Lizzy Arellano, Winter Shadow 2016

Going to dinner

The winter shadow that I had the pleasure of going to was far more fulfilling than I ever thought it could be.  My hosts were very kind.  Their homes were beautiful and their hospitality was very much appreciated.  Ann Arbor, Michigan, was one of the most beautiful and easy to get around towns that I’ve ever visited. Mario Mateo’s house was about 2 miles from the University of Michigan, where Sarah and I worked most of the time.  We found ourselves really looking forward to the walks every day.  Not only was it really nice to pass through the urban and suburban areas of Ann Arbor, but it also gave us an opportunity to explore the downtown more.  The food was delicious, the sights were see-worthy, and the snow was puffy. I feel so grateful to have received this externship because I will have otherwise never been able to visit Michigan.

As for the actual project, it was a great experience overall. Not only did I learn a lot of Python, a coding language, but also, I gained experience as an intern. I learned about the actual process of working with a data set and getting real results from my work that could actually contribute to scientific process.  Because we were using data from the Magellan Clay Telescope in Chile, where each fiber attached to a plate referred to a specific star in the star cluster, Omega Centauri, we were working off Mateo’s idea of a new way of star cluster analysis. We had to be very careful with our calculations, checking and rechecking for the expected results. We had to generalize our coding, so that when new data comes in, it could be analyzed using the same programs and so that people all over the world would have the opportunity to do the same type of analysis. At the end of our externship, our work rewarded us with a complete spectrum of the stars we analyzed, which allowed Mateo to analyze the spectral lines for different elements contained in the stars.

Northwestern University Press: Manon Gilmore, Winter Shadow 2016

When I arrived in Chicago to spend a week this January shadowing Anne Gendler, managing editor in design and production at Northwestern University Press, I admit I didn’t know what to expect. I had always thought of the publishing industry as notoriously difficult to infiltrate, a cutthroat business where productivity and ambition were valued in a time where people are fond of saying that print is dying. Yes, this was a small press, but would it be different?

My first hint that I had nothing to worry about was when I matched the street number I had typed into my phone with a small house that had a “Northwestern University Press” sign out front. Inside was toasty warm (outside the temperature was single digits verging into the negatives, but Chicagoans are good at staying warm), and I was followed in by Grace, the other Reed extern who had arrived the week before. When we had tramped upstairs and shed all of our layers, our arrival was greeted with a cheer, and we immediately got to work.

Equipped with a red pencil and a loaner copy of The Chicago Manual of Style, I spent my week at the press checking passes of manuscripts—essentially different rounds of edits—against each other, proofreading e-books and one author-made index, and attending staff meetings, where all aspects of the process were discussed to see what progress had been made in the week between meetings: acquisitions editors introduced their new books, project editors updated the status of manuscripts undergoing editing, sales and marketing people talked about cover design and material, book size, selling points, and likely audiences.

Saturday Academy: Orion Cohen, Winter Shadow 2016

It is difficult to articulate exactly how I imagined non-profits before my time at Saturday Academy. My mental image resembled the bureaucratic equivalent of a panda, accepting donor funds, holding events, and slowly ambling towards its goal of benefiting the greater good. At Saturday Academy I quickly learned that whatever my conception was, it was utterly and completely incorrect. A non-profit is more like a spider in the center of a vast and intricate web of connections. It interfaces with donors, volunteers, and consumers to harness the latent desire of a community to improve itself and manifest that desire into a powerful force for good. Saturday Academy gives thousands of curious students the opportunity to indulge their interest in science with the help of talented community professionals. On a weekly basis, Saturday Academy accomplishes the incredible logistical feat of organizing hundreds of students and teachers into multiple locations across the city. When I asked Jeri Janowsky, Saturday Academy’s director and one of the most capable people I have ever met, how this was done, she jokingly told me, “complete chaos.” My time at Saturday Academy gave me enormous respect for both the mission and staff of the organization.

Additionally, I gained an understanding of the organization and operation of non-profits through a series of semi-independent projects assigned by the staff. Rather than merely observe the organization, I contributed to it, which was rewarding and educational. My observation of Saturday Academy’s structure taught me the most important lesson of all, the necessity of networking. I discovered that what I had negatively conceived of as schmoozing is in fact of a critical part of individual and organizational success.

It would be difficult to envision a more positive externship experience than the time I spent at Saturday Academy. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work at Saturday Academy and honored that I was chosen as extern. I am also thankful for the hard work of The Center for Life Beyond Reed that facilitated the experience. 

New York State Assembly: Mauricio Hernandez, Winter Shadow 2016

In the weeks before my winter externship began, the rare feelings of excitement that I could muster were always accompanied by anxiety. I had accepted an opportunity to shadow Elana Shneyer the chief of staff of Daniel J O’Donnell a prominent State Assembly member in Manhattan and in that moment I was thrilled. I had never been to the East Coast, let alone New York, and I would be working in a field that I had zero exposure to.

But once I purchased my plane tickets, the reality of my decision hit me. I was going alone to a city the size of which I had never been in and was expected to excel in work that I could not prepare for. And it had cost a pretty penny.

Needless to say I left for work over half an hour earlier than I needed to the first day, worried that I would become victim to the maze I envisioned the subway system to be. On the ride, I skimmed through advice articles with titles such as “How to make the best out of your internship,” and paid careful attention to the voice buzzing through the intercom.

Graphic Design with Ecova Inc: Oscar Guerrero, Winter Shadow 2016

Graphic Design is something that is relatively very new to me. I officially started doing graphic design when I worked as a graphic design intern at the Center for Life Beyond Reed last summer, but I was untrained and it was very touch-and-go. I quickly discovered that I had a knack for it, and that design came naturally for me, and I worked myself really hard to be as proficient as possible. I watched YouTube videos, looked at other designers’ work, and did my own research to refine my skills. I realized I had a lot of potential, which excited me because I feel graphic design could open up a career path I had never really considered. Being a studio art major, I always had this fear in the back of my mind that I would graduate with a BA in fine arts and then would never be able to make a sustainable living just doing art. Graphic design, however, is a marketable career path that I feel extremely passionate about.

Skip forward to my Winter Shadow. I got to shadow Shawn Ingersoll and his fellow design team at Ecova Inc. Ecova is a not a household name, but it absolutely should be. The Ecova team is hired by other companies and utilities, to eliminate all forms of inefficiency in the practices of those other companies. Ecova swoops in, looks at all the company’s bills, their history, literally everything, and says, “okay, you’re bleeding money here, here, here and here, so if you want to optimize your profits, you have to make these changes.” It’s a great company, especially because it’s really environmentally friendly and focused on sustainability.

I started my Shadow on Monday, January 11th in downtown PDX. It was only a convenient half hour bus ride away. I started my day by meeting the graphic design team composed of Shawn Ingersoll (my sponsor), Kelly Saunders, and the Marketing Team (two of the teams’ members were absent that first day), to talk about current and future projects and initiatives. The teams also spent a great deal of time discussing the weekend and catching up with each other. It was great, because I got some insight into how both teams work together, and also got to see what a friendly and motivated community they are a part of. Once the meeting was over, I had a one on one meeting with Shawn, who gave me his personal history and experience with graphic design, which was really valuable.

Growth Management Department of Bend, Oregon: Philip Stallworth, Winter Shadow 2016

This past winter I had the opportunity to stay with two retired land use professionals, one a Reedie, and shadowed a number of employees at Bend’s Growth Management Department. Susan Brody, the Reedie, had formerly worked as the Director of Eugene’s Planning and Development Department, and as the Director of Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development. Her husband, Al, is a retired land use attorney who had his own practice. Though they only moved to Bend two years ago, they are both active community members. As members of (different) Technical Advisory Committees, they each work closely with the Growth Management Department and project manager Brian Rankin to help expand Bend’s Urban Growth Boundary.

I applied to this externship because I was interested in a career that used technical skills and analytical thinking to develop impactful public policy. Discussions of Portland’s housing crisis and gentrification problems hinted that planning might be one such career. My experience in Bend unambiguously confirmed that hunch. The people I shadowed were dedicated to crafting the best Bend they (or more accurately, the public) could imagine, while working within the constraints of a municipal department.

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Astronomy at the University of Michigan: Sarah Racz, Winter Shadow 2016

The first thing I did when I found out I was accepted for the Winter Shadow program in Astronomy at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor was look into getting a parka. I was excited to visit Ann Arbor for the first time, and really hoping for some snow.

I stayed in Ann Arbor for a week, and left with unending love for what has become my favorite diner of all time.

I worked with a Mario Mateo, who is an astronomer at the University of Michigan. The project I worked on sought to measure the dependence of the magnitudes of RR Lyrae stars upon metal abundance. RR Lyrae stars are variable stars, known for having short periods. All the stars we observed were from the globular cluster Omega Centauri, which is a cluster known for having a range in the metallicities of its stars. All the data was from a telescope in La Serena, Chile that Mario had built. During the week I wrote several scripts in Python to read from huge files of data and run data analysis.

Tableau Software: Justine Wang, Winter Shadow 2016

I headed to Seattle on Saturday the 9th to rendezvous with my host, former classmate, and Shadow contact person, Christina Gremore ’14. Christina had not only made the Shadow possible by petitioning her former boss, but also offered up her apartment for two lucky Reedies to stay for the duration of the Shadow. I was doubly lucky as an old classmate of hers, since she invited me to arrive two days early in order to have dinner and catch up with her before her business trip to Austin. Though we would only reunite for those few hours for the duration of the Shadow, I was reminded exactly how lucky I am to know her. I can only hope that one day in the near future, I will be just as accomplished as Christina in my personal and professional life.

Christina had arranged for us Reedies to Shadow her old department and thereby develop an understanding of the demands and growth potential at an entry-level job. Andrew Barker, Christina’s former boss and a manager in the Product Consulting department, graciously took the three of us Reedies under his wing for the entirety of our time at Tableau. Coming into the Shadow, I honestly didn’t expect too much from the experience. I already knew that I liked the product and believed in the company’s mission, so I was skeptical that I would learn much more from the experience. Andrew and the rest of the employees at Tableau quickly made me eat my words. Throughout my time at Tableau, I was blown away by the generosity, hospitality, and candor of the employees. It was one thing to have done my research on the company and another to be able to speak to people working there about their own career journeys. Andrew and the other employees were happy to talk about their time at Tableau and their experiences transitioning into gainful (or more satisfying) employment.

For the first day of the Shadow we received a general overview of Tableau as a company. Andrew talked about Tableau’s beginnings, its organizational structure, and gave us a tour of the Seattle campus after providing lunch. I found the tour to be one of the highlights of the Shadow since we got to learn more about how the different departments (and the people within them) work together. Taking the American Capitalism Sociology class has really impressed upon me the importance of organizational structures for employee satisfaction, so I was pleased to hear that Tableau is conscious of the potential perils of transitioning from a national business to a global corporation.

Child Psychology with Dr. Amy Summers: Maddy Wagar, Winter Shadow 2016

Maybe because I’m a Reedie, getting an education at a college that tucks grades out of sight and celebrates the weird and wonky types of intelligence that stick out at awkward angles from standard boxes. Perhaps because, as my mom says, I was raised in a hippy era when testing kids was “uncool.” For whatever reason, I admit I entered into my weeklong shadow with Dr. Amy Summers, a private psychologist who specializes in administering tests to kids to gather information about cognitive development, IQ, and possible learning disabilities, with a bit of a bias. The bias wasn’t even due to an issue of ethics, I think I just heard words like “testing” and “assessment” and “diagnosis,” and thought these translated to numbers, objectivity, and standardization. In all honesty, I thought the work would be a little boring. I was beyond wrong!

I simply did not know enough about psychological testing to realize how interesting, exciting, and nuanced it really is. I’m so grateful to this externship and everyone who made it possible. One week with Amy opened my eyes to some really cool aspects of psychology that I never knew existed, and inspired in me a real fascination with the process of psychological diagnosis.

Amy let myself and my fellow Reed student shadower Jocelyn Hansson follow her through every step of the process of assessing a 5th grader suspected of having ADHD or ADD. Amy works predominantly with young children, mostly to administer IQ tests to kids whose parents are hoping they qualify for a highly capable school or program, or to test for a learning disorder/ADD/ADHD.

Child Psychology with Dr. Amy Summers: Jocelyn Hansson, Winter Shadow 2016

I decided to do the winter shadow program because while I’ve been certain that I’d be a psychology major for a long time, I have been struggling to figure out what specific area in psychology I want to pursue.  When I saw Amy Summer’s winter shadow program I knew I had to apply.  Amy Summers Phd., is an educational psychologist who administers psychological tests to children.  She administers IQ tests to children hoping to apply to highly capable school programs and tests to children suspected to have a learning disorder or attentional problems.  I already had an interest in learning disabilities and ADHD, but I was interested in exploring and learning more about the various different job opportunities within this field.  Over the course of my week shadowing Amy, my externship buddy Maddy and I learned about the responsibilities of an educational psychologist.  We were also introduced to others in the same field, and the different kinds of educational backgrounds they had.  We learned about learning disorders, ADHD, child IQ scores, and the tests that score them while also observing and even sometimes getting the opportunity to administer some of these tests. 

Perhaps the most exciting parts of my externship experience involved administering tests to the young children. Maddy and I were given the opportunity to prepare and administer tests to the two 4 year olds who were receiving IQ tests (these tests were non-essential, so we couldn’t mess up the results of the testing).  It was sort of crazy to see how IQ is tested in 4 year old children.  Some of the tests made sense to me, such as the test that looked at processing speed, but others were more unusual.  For example, a block design test had the children arrange colored blocks to match a simple pattern.  It was weird to hear that an ability to understand and reproduce diagonal lines is considered to be advanced spatial-visual ability in 4 year olds.  These were super sweet and intelligent kids, but it was a shock to see kids this young being exposed to a convoluted testing process with the goal of getting them into a high achieving school or kindergarten.  I was glad Amy was more than happy to talk about my conflicting feelings about the schools, and she ended up giving me a lot to think about.  We talked about things like the instability of young children’s IQ scores, the status element of having one’s children attend these schools, along with the effects of the different schooling children from high and low socioeconomic status receive.

During the week Amy also assessed an 8 year old who was being tested because of a suspected learning disorder. Maddy and I spent a day observing him in his school environment.   While we were there we were able to talk to people worked in jobs different than Amy’s that were in the same realm of interest.  I learned not only about jobs related to educational psychology, but also about some interesting methods geared to teach children with significant learning disabilities to read.  When this boy came into Amy’s office, we were able to both observe his testing, and administer some tests ourselves.  I came into this experience thinking I knew a lot about learning disorders and ADHD, but found that I actually knew very little about the tests for these disorders.  One of the most interesting things I learned about these tests was the fact that there are different spelling errors that indicate different kinds of problems.  Simply put, some spelling errors make phonological sense, and don't indicate much, while others might be indicative of difficulties understanding sounds and their corresponding letters. I think the most rewarding experience of my whole shadow program was looking critically at this boy’s performance on the tests.  It was cool to see Amy look at certain test results, come up with a hypothesis, and administer certain tests to look into her hypothesis.  We were treating this boy’s development and abilities sort of like a puzzle. I’m glad I was comfortable enough to put forward my own ideas and hypotheses about this boy. 

Montgomery High School: Jeannette Phan, Winter Shadow 2016

When I first considered doing a Shadow, I was studying abroad in Buenos Aires. A great many things happened to me during that semester, and just about as many questions, too, about where I’m going to be and what I want to do after Reed. Wondering how I was supposed to utilize and mold my Reed experience into something conducive to my future. Even the answer to what sort of field I wanted to go into was up in the air. These questions have only become more dire as I have been embarking on the last half of my undergraduate phase. So upon hearing about the opportunity Reed was offering students to shadow Reed alumni, I thought, what better way to help me examine this dilemma.

I didn’t know what kind of shadow I was looking for, besides looking for one where the person I would be shadowing could advise me on how to navigate the murky and amorphous decisions that I would soon have to make.

I had always thought of a career in teaching as an option; sometimes as my one an only option, and at other times as a backup should I never find anything better. As it were, at this point the playing field was level for all possible careers. I just wanted to know what careers were available and how one gets there. How do careers happen? For surely they are not always dependent on the linear development of one’s schooling, from grade school and higher education. Clearly, my problem was a simple lack of exposure to the realties of a career beyond the fanciful notions of stability and mundane complacency.

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts: Isabel Lyndon, Winter Shadow 2016

This winter, I spent four days at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, California. I shadowed Jordan Simmons (Reed ’78), but I also had opportunities to work independently, with other interns, and with various members of the faculty and staff.

The Center, which includes a theater, a dance studio, practice and rehearsal rooms, and office spaces, is housed in a beautiful renovated building. When I arrived, Ruthie, the Deputy Director of Programs, took me around the Center, introducing me to everyone we ran into. She told me what they did at the center, professionally, but she also alerted me to other details, such as: one employee made great cheesecake and another was passionate about sneakers. Everyone had an amazing set of combined skills or passions. Ruthie herself, I learned, had degrees in both social work and jazz piano, and this kind of combination was not unusual among the staff.

Founded in 1968, the Center offers on-site classes, in school and after school programs for students in the Richmond area, ensembles, performances, college and career counseling, and internships. When I visited, the Center was in a “dark week,” or a period with private lessons and rehearsals but no regular classes. Even so, sometimes I would walk downstairs and come upon a student in a piano lesson. One afternoon, the sounds of an alumni band floated up from a first floor rehearsal room to the offices upstairs. Usually, the Center offers lessons in everything from violin to West African Dance, acting to oboe, plus jazz theory, capoeira, Mien/Laotian ceremonial dance, stage combat, ballet, and more.

Gloopen: Emma Miller, Winter Shadow 2016

This winter, I spent a week working with Arun, Ranjan, two other Reed externs, and one Lafayette extern. Working from 3 continents, 4 time zones, and 5 cities, we met each morning (PT) by video call to try to build a web application through our collected efforts.

Arun and Ranjan are about 6 months into their startup, Gloopen Inc., which is an extremely versatile communication platform. Their guidance helped us simulate a startup experience.

On the first day we thought of our product: a web application that allowed users to comment on and create events on a Google map.  Next we took the idea to the "drawing board” (a.k.a a Gloopad), and fleshed it out with code. This involved programming in HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery, and learning how to use MongoDB and Node.js. Our goal was to exemplify what strategies and frameworks real tech companies use to create their products. A big challenge was working under the time constraint imposed by the externship. Building a web application can take months, so we were severely limited by how much we could accomplish. Nonetheless, I feel proud of what we were able to accomplish, and am really glad to have had the opportunity to learn how to design and program collaboratively.

Reed College Admissions: Cris Cambianica, Winter Shadow 2016

I did my winter shadow with Kati Sweaney from Reed’s admission office. I applied for the shadow not knowing much about admissions, but knowing that I am generally interested in institutional diversity and equity. Since I have mostly been involved in these objectives from the student advocacy end and given that I want to do institutional diversity work after graduation, I thought that learning about admissions would be a good way to observe the contested terrain of institutional diversity and equity policies. The experience was generally so positive that I left the winter shadow considering that admissions’ counseling could be a great career path for me after graduation.

Kati very intentionally framed my shadow with my interest in diversity at its heart. She scheduled meetings for me with almost every counselor at Reed so that I could ask questions about working in admissions and the opportunities as well as constraints that the Reed admission team has when trying to advance equity at Reed. I also was able to shadow her while doing many of the different functions of admissions: information sessions with prospective students, outside reader training, outreach work at NAYA, and collaborative meetings between Disability Support Services and admissions. Through this shadow I was really able to see the number of partnerships that admissions has with different parts of campus, the scope of impact it has, and the variety of tasks that any day may bring. Kati was very attentive to making sure that the shadow aligned with my goals and the entire admissions staff was extremely generous in sharing their time with me. The week was an extremely positive experience and I would recommend the shadow to anyone who is interested.

St. Louis Public Radio: Caleb Codding, Winter Shadow 2016

Shula and Caleb working the sound board in the Control Room

Upon my return to Reed at the start of this semester, I met up with a friend of mine who had just returned from studying abroad. Amidst the excitement of being in the same country again and the desire to know as much as I could about all that she had experienced, I naïvely asked her, “How was it?”

 “I could never describe everything that happened accurately,” she responded, “so much took place during my time away that it would takes at least as long for me to relate it all to you.”

Having just left my winter shadow with Shula Neuman and the newsroom at Saint Louis Public Radio, this answer resonated with me. It described exactly what I had felt. Because in the three all-too-short weeks I spent at the station, the team there exceeded every expectation I could have brought with me. But how can I adequately encapsulate that in a short blog post? How can I do justice to every minute of every day, whether I spent it hopping around press conferences with Missouri’s governor, performing investigative journalism about the merits of Stan Kroenke’s proposal to move the Rams back to Los Angeles, or producing interviews with some of the most determined advocates for progress in race relations I have ever met?

Tableau Software: Ziyuan Zhong, Winter Shadow 2016

Ziyuan Zhong shadowed at Tableau, a software company that helps people visualize, analyze, and share their data.

I went to Seattle on January 10 for my winter shadow, which spanned from Monday to Thursday. This shadow was probably one of the best experiences of my life. I learned how to use Tableau, how to give a presentation using Tableau and data analysis skills, and how to solve real-world problems using what I had learned at Reed.

This shadow consisted of three main parts. First, we shadowed customer technical sales calls. By listening to the conversation between the workers and the customers, I realized the importance of good communication between people, in addition to having mastery of the technical details. This motivates me to grasp every opportunity in the rest of my academic life at Reed, and to practice my oral skills and communication skills.

Living in Clay Time In Clay Town: Kammy Chiu, Winter Fellowship for International Travel

Kammy Chiu, sophomore Economics-ENV major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, reflects on her residency program with The Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China, learning to work with porcelain.

The Pottery Workshop

My artistic residency with The Pottery Workshop (TPW) took place in The Sculpture Factory (TSF), Jingdezhen. For just over three weeks, I thought about absolutely nothing apart from clay. Three other international residents accompanied me during my time at TPW: Edith, an Israeli artist who specializes in painting porcelain tiles, Alberto, arguably one of the most knowledgeable mold-makers in the US who’s about to finish his MFA at Syracuse University, and Josh, another Reedie who introduced me to ceramics a year and a half ago.

CCD Innovation Food and Beverage Science: Nicholas Egan, Winter Shadow 2016

The setup for our tasting experiment

I had not, in my life, expected to be able to point at a bottle of salad dressing at Safeway and say, “Oh cool, I made that.”

(‘Helped make that’ is definitely more proper, but sometimes you’ve just got to flex in the grocery store.)

Applying to CCD Innovation to understand the world of food innovation seemed, in my head, to suppose a certain scientific environment: one comprised of vast numbers of tiny bottles filled with hyper-concentrated-who-knows-what in ultra-sterile laboratories, logbooks filled to the brim with the anguish of hundreds of statisticians in the pursuit of ultimate flavor, and a grim, if regulated, corporate environment with masters of the tastebud denoting the desires of the mass public to lesser, flavoring-affiliated chemists.

Publishing and Education with Ruth Werner: Serena Offenbaker, Winter Shadow 2016

For my Winter Shadow, I stayed with Ruth Werner and her family. Ruth works from home where she juggles various projects related to her role as an author, artist, and educator, specializing in pathology and massage therapy. I had the fortune of getting to know her and her family, while getting some insight into publishing. Unfortunately, due to some health related concerns I was unable to engage with the opportunity as fully as I would have liked.

I did, nonetheless, have a rewarding experience. Speaking to Ruth about the intricacies of her work helped me realize the various approaches one can have into the field of education, despite my previous misconceptions of its limits. Seeing the way that she interacted with the field and others in it showed me how I might incorporate my own interests, skills, and passions into my educational pursuits without having to sacrifice different aspects of my identity. For example, Ruth talked about how she majored in theater at Reed but that her time here “made it clear I [Ruth] could go into any direction I wanted” stating that she “never felt constrained to follow any particular path” because she was supported by Reed to study anything that made me passionate and to trust that that would work out. And despite theater belonging to an entirely, seemingly disparate realm, she believes that her practice in the area helped her develop skills that were transferable to her role as an educator. Together we spoke at length about the importance and marketability of effective communication, which gave me confidence about moving forward into the world of publishing.

Ruth and I also talked about the significance of having vision, of being imaginative, problem solving, and being open to failure. She gave me some very valuable advice about pursuing publishing, which I’d like to share for others who might be pursuing it as well:

Information Wizardry: Oregon College of Oriental Medicine: Syd Low, Winter Shadow 2016

When the Reed library decided not to hire me my sophomore year I moved on to other things and contented myself with straightening books (to preserve their spines!) and relocating the occasional mis-shelved loner (so people can find it!) both at Reed and all my favorite public libraries. I'd briefly considered going for a library science degree, but that seemed like a big investment when all I really knew was that I Love Books and Libraries Have Books. So when I saw the posting for Winter Shadow at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine I knew I wanted to get it. While ideally I'd have tried a shadow before my senior year, better late than never right? Part of the description for the OCOM internship was also that they needed help cataloging a large donation of Chinese-language books--a dream come true for a linguistics major with a focus on Chinese!

After being accepted to help out at the library I began to see more of the behind the scenes work I'd been curious about. Veronica Vichit-Vadakan patiently trained me in all the ways of inter-library loans and the particular system OCOM uses, giving me a very every-day look at how a small library runs. OCOM is also unique in that it has a medicinal herb library for students to work with--something that makes sense for the school but that you probably wont find in a larger public library. These kinds of details are now helping me think about what kind of library I'd want to work at, and what kind of degree I'd then want to focus on. Public libraries sometimes have literacy programs or larger historical reference projects, while smaller libraries can have more focused resources and a more focused audience. The cataloging of Chinese language books is one of these more focused projects; unsurprisingly most of the books are about Traditional Chinese Medicine (I certainly picked up some new vocab). It was kind of wild typing a title into WorldCat and seeing that another library copy of the book I was holding was in Hong Kong! Even small libraries are part of this huge global thing. The conversion of older lectures recorded on VHS to DVD was another project happening while I was there. I realized libraries do a lot of work not only innovating new ways to access materials but also in making sure older resources don't get dusty and "left behind." To me this is really exciting--a combination of technology and curating abilities.

All in all, while re-shelving and scanning articles is not most people's idea of a good time, to me it's sort of satisfying. You run into things you wouldn't have looked up yourself. It's also just the most obvious work libraries do, there are larger issues like how libraries handle the increasing push for digital works, how libraries are also one of the few public places people can get together or use computers for free, how libraries can assist with life-long learning, or home schooled or virtual learning, and on and on. Taking the time, if only for a few days, to absorb the library atmosphere, talk about and research libraries, has made it clear to me it's a future I'd consider pursuing. Waiting to be hired in a library would have been a stressful alternative, so many thanks to Victoria and OCOM, and to Reed for organizing the Winter Shadows program. 

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