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Perspective and the Completion of a Practicum

Today was the final day of my practicum at Capital Newspapers. For a parting gift I received a window scraper, about 20 fun size Snicker’s bars, and a Wisconsin State Journal mug. But in addition to those prizes I also gained some valuable knowledge.

I learned firsthand what a news library environment is like. I learned archival techniques for both news stories and photos. I also experienced the problems that libraries face. I am a bit more sheltered from that at Edgewood, but at Capital Newspapers it is quite evident. The library does great work in archiving the two newspapers, but in terms of research it is underused. The reporters could benefit a lot more from accessing the library’s print, electronic, and human resources. Seeing this allowed me to think critically about the problems that libraries face. How can we be more visible? What can we appear and actually be valuable to our patrons? These are questions I don’t have complete answers to yet but I have started working on them because of this practicum.

I also implemented a number of new technologies into the library’s local intranet. I added a Meebo widget to enable an “Ask the Library” chat function. In addition I added some advertisements highlighting different resources that are available. I put these ads in one spot on the page and randomized which one would display using a little JavaScript. Finally I made a few maps using Google Maps and added data to them that may be useful for reporters such as census data for Dane County from 1950-2000.

I benefited by being able to successfully implement new technologies into an actual library setting. The library probably benefited some from me doing this, but their biggest gain from this, in my opinion, is having a new world opened up to them. My supervisor tried adding data to maps before I arrived, but the way they were previously doing it didn’t work. There weren’t many fresh ideas flowing into the library. Because of my new perspective, I was able to get them thinking in new ways. I think that I changed the way my supervisor looks at things. It was a mutually beneficial experience, and we both were able to learn something during my time there.

Andy Burkhardt

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