Some people have asked me what it is that I actually do at LoC. I can proudly report that this internship is indeed more than getting coffee for staff, filing papers and running errands
I am at the library for 7 hours a day. It starts at 11am, but my commute takes about two hours. In order to save gas (and my nerves), I ride with my husband to Springfield and then take the metro from there to Capitol Hill. This takes about 2 hours. It is indeed a long commute, but I think it is worth it. If I had the option to work here permanently though, I would probably try to move closer.
Two of the seven hours are reserved for desk duty in the reading room. No, not the famous one in the Jefferson building. That’s across the street. The Business Section is located in the Adams building, which has a smaller but still impressive reading room.
Traffic is less than when I work at the public library reference desk. (Note to CRRL readers: I have not been asked about the restroom location yet!). Having few patrons come to the desk frees up time to work on assignments or questions that arrived via the Ask A Librarian Service. Today, for example, I was briefly working on a question regarding grain elevators operated by Peavey Co., Minneapolis, around 1960.
In the remaining five hours I usually work on my pathfinder (Guide to Small Business Information for Entrepreneurs) or other questions that came in. I also enjoy talking to the other librarians, who are incredibly knowledgeable not only about their subjects but also about all kinds of other things. Their wealth of knowledge makes me want to read an encyclopedia, but I hope that over time I will acquire as much wisdom as they have. I think I am in the right profession for that
The website and the reading room offer an extensive number of guides, pathfinders, info-pamphlets etc. I have to admit that it is quite intimidating at times. How would I ever be able to know all of this? It would probably take years to learn all about the collection. One of the librarians who has been here for seven years recently told me that she still can’t remember where everything is located. That was a comforting confession, and I also remembered that being a librarian is not about knowing it all. It is about the skills to find everything, or at least everything that exists, even if it means reaching out to other librarians for help. Which is another wonderful aspect of our profession: We strive to share information and knowledge, not hold it back. The business reference librarians here all have fields of specialties. There is simply no way that one person can be familiar with all the resources that are in the reading room, the stacks, and online. So we share, and create a huge pool of knowledge everybody can tap into.
I have started to seriously think about what I would like to specialize in. Right now I love working with government information and researching company information (competitive intelligence). Being a business librarian in an academic library sounds interesting as well.
What are your thoughts on information sharing, business reference, academic libraries and business librarians within this setting?