During a summer session class in 2011 I spoke with a fellow classmate, Craig Arthur, who mentioned his internship at Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum (CHB). He was learning a lot about arranging archives collections and enjoyed talking with the staff and volunteers at the museum. He sent me curator Marian Inabinett’s email as I was interested in an archives internship as well and planned to take the archives class in the fall. Little did I know the archives class in the fall, and spring, would be cancelled! Thankfully though, I was able to speak with Marian and take on a project at the museum researching and organizing a collection of papers related to a summer school program held when the site was an distinguished boarding school for African Americans named Palmer Memorial Institute (PMI). She showed me how to give museum tours and how to engage the visitors with the historical legacy of the site. The nature of the project allowed me learn at my own pace. I had to find books on archive management and teach myself how to arrange the collection as well as research the context of the collection. As it turns out, the summer program at PMI was one of the pilot programs for Upward Bound, originally funded by The Ford Foundation. Volunteering at CHB was very much like an independent study opportunity. The project involved learning how to research, arrange the archive collection, store it, and create a finding aid. I used the experience to create and present a poster of my work at the Society of North Carolina Archivists Conference in March 2012. I highly recommend finding an internship or practicum in a local public library, historical society, museum, or archive if that is what interests you. Talk to your fellow students, faculty and put yourself out there to find opportunities. I did this project as a volunteer which is also a great option if you are like me and do not need practicum credits or there are just too many classes you’d like to take instead. You will learn a lot by being on the site and if you are open to learning different volunteer roles you could come away from the experience with various new skills and abilities.
Look for upcoming blog posts on the experiential learning series through next year to find out about volunteer/internship/practicum experiences of fellow MLIS students.
If you are interested in gaining experience in archive management, please contact Marian Inabinett, the new Curator of Collections at the High Point Museum @ 336-883-3185 or firstname.lastname@example.org for internship or volunteering opportunities. She has projects in the works for summer, fall and next spring. The museum website is www.highpointmuseum.org.