2019 Alternative Spring Break at the Smithsonian and National Library of Medicine

During Spring Break 2019, eight graduate students of the Library and Information Science program in the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky participated in Alternative Spring Break, an annual program that places graduate students in professional settings for a week where they can learn new skills, work with mentors, and gain a deeper understanding of LIS concepts in practice. Four students interned at the Smithsonian Libraries in Washington, DC and four interned at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. With their supervisors' guidance, the students worked on projects in advancement, public relations and marketing, research services, natural history, education, outreach, and genetics.

(Group photo of students interning at National Library of Medicine)


2019 Alternative Spring Break Participants & Reflections



Institution: Smithsonian Libraries

"This program was actually one of the reasons I chose Kentucky over some other schools that had the same master's degree," Macon said. "I worked alongside the Outreach Librarian to help with events for Her Natural History as well as getting to write blogs over a few collections. One of the pieces of my project was working with the Magnificent Obsessions exhibit which highlights what and why we collect in an excessive or odd way." 


Institution: National Library of Medicine

"I also had the opportunity to network and gain a few important contacts in the field of federal librarianship, which is the area I hope to work in after graduating with my MSLS. These contacts are invaluable, and have allowed me to get an inside look at how federal libraries operate," Fulton said. "I am truly grateful for this opportunity to experience DC life through the lens of one living and working in the area, as opposed to being a tourist." 


Institution: Smithsonian Libraries

"I actually worked in two of the Smithsonian Libraries branches during my internship," Turner said. "At the NMAH Library, I used Drupal to restructure the webpage for their research guide. For the latter part of the week, I evaluated resources that the NMAAHC Library had collected for use on its research guide, placed them under subject headings, and added new resources to that list."  


Institution: National Library of Medicine

"We were tasked to work with the History of Medicine Division's Card Catalog, analyzing which titles have digitized finding aid information, which ones are not digitized but have helpful shelving information, and which cards are no longer useful at all. All of this is in preparation for their reading room refurbishment, and the impending movement of the 500,000 titles in the card catalog behemoth. Overall we managed to work through 1,000 cards and analyse the Excel data through pivot tables," Ward said. 


Institution: Smithsonian Libraries

"Outside of our assigned projects, the interns were treated to tours of the Cullman Library, which features the Smithsonian's rare books collection, relating to science and natural history, and the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library, which contains books relating to American history, art and portraiture, and must more. Both these tours were eye opening, not just because of the treasures the libraries contain, but also because of the interactions with the librarians, learning about their paths to the Smithsonian Libraries and their specialties," said Perry. 


Institution: National Library of Medicine

"ASB was a fantastic networking experience, allowing us to form contacts in the NLM, a gateway to future NLM internships or government jobs," Bilz said. "It was especially rewarding to meet my classmates face-to-face, in addition to th other wonderful individuals who were part of other programs or who worked at NLM for many years."




Institution: Smithsonian Libraries

"I was tasked with producing a public relations and marketing plan for a specific Smithsonian publication, ABCEDARIUM: An Adult Coloring Book for Bibliophiles." In the course of this work, I was able to attend a colloquium by the authors to learn a bit more about the conception and development of the book," Mitchell said. 


Institution: National Library of Medicine

"My project was to create a topic of focus, and content for a campaign presented on the social media platforms of Medline Plus. I was given a great deal of freedom for determining the direction the campaign would take, and spent time between events and meetings researching the pertinent content to present to the public on my chosen topic of nutrition," Quick said.