University of Kentucky Alternative Spring Break at the Smithsonian and National Library of Medicine

During Spring Break 2018, seven 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. Five students interned at the Smithsonian Libraries in Washington, DC and two 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. 



Institution: Smithsonian Libraries

Project: Advancement

"My research assignment was to develop a list of potential donors for two special exhibits, 'Game Change' and 'Magnificent Obsessions' that Smithsonian Libraries Advancement was currently working on funding as part of the Smithsonian Libraries Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration this year," said Carruthers. "My research strategy began with a review of literature on developing prospect lists for charitable causes."


Institution: Smithsonian Libraries

Project: Public Relations & Marketing

"My task for the week was to create a marketing and outreach plan for two upcoming exhibits, 'Game Change' and 'Magnificent Obsessions'," said Colburn. "Working on the marketing and outreach plan allowed me to apply principles I had learned in core and elective classes to a real-world project. One of my main takeways though was how the libraries support the overall research needs of the various Smithsonian museums." 


Institution: Smithsonian Libraries 

Project: Research Services, Natural History

"I am proud to say that I had a small hand in devising a spreadsheet that would help streamline the process for the librarians and volunteers who would ultimately make the decisions on what stays on the shelf, what goes to storage, and what goes away altogether," said Hazelmyer. "I experienced something that was so attuned to my personal inclinations. Surrounded by individuals who love the idea of learning and find value and meaning in the words and artifacts left behind by other humans is something that speaks to me on the deepest level. This trip is one I won't soon forget." 


Institution: Smithsonian Libraries 

Project: Research Services, Art 

"For my primary project, I was given a set of over 30 books that were either recent gifts or pulled from other locations to determine if they should be reclassified as artists' books," said O'Keefe. "Everyone was welcoming to us and open to discussing their path to librarianship more, which was very helpful for someone on the verge of graduation. These experiences coupled with the work I did with artists' books were the outcomes I had hoped for, and have already strengthened the skills I am using in coursework and interviews." 


Institution: Smithsonian Libraries 

Project: Education 

"My background in children's programming at both museums and libraries, as well as the education I've received at UK were extremely helpful in preparation for the assignment I was given," said Neace. "The project I worked on involved creating 'museums in a box,' [which] contain an audio machine that is powered by raspberry pi. The machines play audio from 10 postcards with artwork and resources found in the Smithsonian, as well as one 3D printed object that goes along with the box theme." 


Institution: National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health

Project: Outreach

"Since entering the MSLS program, I have been able to participate in the Alternative Spring Break program twice. My direct supervisor allowed me to lead or work solo on several important projects including creating branding for the department, working with a producer to create several short videos for an upcoming conference, and creating a fact sheet that would be sent to Congress," said Butor. "During my week at the National Library of Medicine, I felt reinvigorated and more enthusiastic about librarianship."


Institution: National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health

Project: Genetics Home Reference

"My main project was to research direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies and present my findings to the Genetic Home Reference team at the end of the week," said Curtis. "This opportunity proved to be so much more than I thought it would be. I feel like it was professional and personally beneficial in so many different ways, the week flew by, and I had an amazing time!"