METRO's First Innovative Interns Share Their Experiences

METRO’s Innovative Internship program, launched last December, recently completed its inaugural cycle of internships. Designed to foster innovative work in METRO’s member institutions, the Innovative Internship program provides stipends each Fall and Spring semester to graduate students and recent graduate degree recipients to support their work in local cultural heritage institutions in the METRO membership. The three recipients of the first round of program funding have completed their internships and submitted final reports documenting their work.

Details of the projects of Chialin Chou, Alexandra Dolan-Mescal, and Jonathan Heifetz were listed in the original selection announcement for Spring 2013 award recipients. The full final reports written by each of three Innovative Internship winners are collected in a newly available report.



Summaries of Spring 2013 Innovation Internships

Chialin Chou designed a “parallel learning experience” in which she worked with the archives of two institutions that focus on architecture and design. Dividing her time between Storefront for Art & Architecture, a non-profit organization focused on innovation in design, and the Drawings and Archives Department of Columbia’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Chialin “had the opportunity to work with two remarkable repositories of design materials focusing on New York City’s built environment.” She noted the value of serving as a point of contact for both organizations: “as a liaison between Storefront and Avery, I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate knowledge sharing that promises to benefit both organizations, as well as my development as an archivist.”

Alexandra Dolan-Mescal also focused on archival work; her internship took place at the Queens College Occupy Archive, where she set about the mission of archiving a social movement. Her project utilized a combination of data-mining skills, crowdsourcing information, and harvesting of online materials to “provide a platform to investigate issues of archiving social movements in the 21st century through the lens of Occupy.” While “archiving Occupy, like the movement itself, has proven a complex and shifting endeavor,” Alexandra noted the long term benefits of working through the issues inherent in preserving an ephemeral social movement. “We… have a blueprint for more effectively and quickly capturing records of social events,” she writes.

Jonathan Heifetz’s project focused on a social cause. His project to expand New York Public Library’s outreach to NYC’s homeless population led him to “set out to build one strong relationship with a provider of services to those who have experienced homelessness.” Working with NYPL’s Outreach Services, Jonathan was able to expand the services of St. John's Place Family Center and develop a collection of children’s books for an onsite collection. Through this project, Jonathan “came to see the potential of library services targeted outside of the library walls to reach those for whom there are barriers that may keep them from accessing the library.”

Congratulations to our first class of funding recipients. The application period for Fall 2013 Innovative Internship program will open soon. [Ed. note as of 8/20: Applications now being accepted!]