METRO's Fall 2013 Cohort of Innovative Interns Report Their Experiences

METRO’s Innovative Internship program was started in December 2012. The program rewards and encourages innovative internships for graduate students or recent graduates in institutions in the METRO membership. The program explicitly funds internships that would otherwise be unpaid positions and includes an incentive funding structure to encourage host institutions to contribute to the payment of interns working in otherwise unpaid positions.

The Fall 2013 Innovative Internship award recipients were Houda El Mimouni, Allison Piazza, and Kevin Saw. Their final internship reports [pdf] have been submitted and are now available online.

Summaries of the Fall 2013 Innovative Internship Projects

Houda El Mimouni helped shape the new User Experience (UX) Lab at Bobst Library at New York University as well as assisting with the collaborative practicum partnership between the UX Lab and Pratt School of Information and Library Science. In this role, she assisted with redesigning the NYU Libraries website to improve the usability and information architecture, wrote documentation related to the the testing process, tools used, and best methods for conducting usability testing in the UX Lab, and helped design practicum projects for Pratt UX students working in the lab. As Houda notes, the paid internship allowed her “bolster and expand the skills I have acquired through my formal coursework at Pratt with invaluable hands on experience. In particular, I was granted the opportunity to learn about planning and conducting user testing, involving stakeholders, and UX best practices.”

Kevin Saw worked on the Roving Reference project at Leonard Lief Library at Lehman College (CUNY). In helping launch and implement the new Roving Reference service, Kevin was able to work on many features of the program including assessment, outreach, marketing, and serving as one of the roving reference librarians. As Kevin says, “We viewed it [the program] as an ideal complement to the reference desk and also an opportunity to expand reference services to all four floors of the library, beyond just the main floor where the reference desk is located… We also viewed it as an opportunity for library outreach. It was an opportunity to inform patrons about other services the library offers that they may not have been aware of… This internship has also encouraged me to think outside the box, to challenge myself to rethink the norms and be innovative.”

Allison Piazza worked at the Weill Cornell Medical Library on the project, “Evaluating the Usability of Systematic Review Software.” This project aimed to perform a usability assessment of currently available systematic review software, the software that enables medical library to aggregate and assess articles, datasets, and other research information relevant to clinical work. Allison worked to research available software tools, develop assessment metrics, design a review workflow, and help conduct testing on a variety of software packages. “This gave me a first-hand perspective of the day-to-day running of the library, its patron population, library resources, and the many responsibilities of medical librarians and staff… my understanding of research design and execution was also greatly increased by hands-on involvement in all aspects of the process.” Allison also articulated a theme running through many of these internships, “librarians are trained to have an understanding of technology, as well an understanding of how their patrons interact with technology. This puts librarians in an excellent position to ‘bridge the gap’ between the vendor and the user, for the benefit of both parties.”

More details on all three projects can be found in the Fall 2013 Innovative Internship Final Reports.