I am a graduate student in library science at Indiana University Bloomington. When the time came to complete an internship, I decided to learn about government documents by applying to intern with the Indiana State Library – our regional depository of federal documents. The Indiana State Library joined the preservation steward program early. This program asks libraries to commit to keeping and preserving government documents of their choice. As their intern, I had the opportunity to sort through a large collection of oversized documents in order to add them to ISL’s preservation stewardship agreement.
The best part about working with large, old documents is that they are full of beautiful maps, drawings and other images.
The documents I handled were all from 1965 or earlier. The oldest document that I handled was the Laws of the United States of America printed in 1796.
In addition to working on the stewardship program, I worked on lists of documents posted to the Indiana Needs and Offers Database. These are documents that a library wants to remove from their collection, but first offers them to the regional library, then other libraries. The Indiana State Library will claim any document posted to these lists that is not currently part of their collection. My job was to find these items on the shelves – easier said than done! I spent hours hunting down public document call numbers and checking shelves to ensure that the library did not miss a chance to add new documents to the collection.
Finally, I learned about digitization, a critical skill for a new librarian as libraries all over the country have ongoing digitization projects. I digitized a series of Indiana state elections results from 1960 to the 1980s. It is great to be a part of the preservation of Indiana history.
My internship at the Indiana State Library has been informative and given me important experience with the everyday work of government documents librarians. Thank you to all of the talented librarians who took the time to teach me over the last few months!
This blog post was written by Rachel Holder, a graduate student in library science at Indiana University Bloomington and the Federal Documents Intern with the Reference and Government Documents Division.