Katharine Ayerst, one of the library’s two interns, concluded her internship last week as she is graduating from the University of Maryland with her Masters in Library Science this month. Before her last day, we asked her a few questions about her internship experience.
What surprised you the most about this internship? The number of resources available to self-represented litigants (SRLs). Going into the internship, I knew that a large portion library users would be SRLs, but really wasn’t sure that that would look like on a daily basis, or how it would affect my duties. Starting the internship and learning how to help SRLs gain access to the law and obtain legal help was incredible. Learning what resources are available was a little overwhelming at first, but ultimately extremely helpful. Joanie has done a fantastic job providing “in house” resources – such as our wiki page and self-help reference section – as well partnering with the local legal community to allow for the Lawyer in the Library program and the Family Law Self Help Center. These resources are comprehensive, help with a myriad of problems, and are well utilized. But resources for SRLs don’t stop there. When the SRLs come in to the library need even more help, there other resources and methods of help available. We can help patrons navigate the legal documents in our collection, direct them to the District Court Self Help Center, the Maryland Court Self Help Center, and various other pro-bono or reduced fee resources. Through the course of the internship, there were very few times when we couldn’t direct the SRLs to the appropriate help needed.
While this may sound like I’m only running a promotion for the library, I’m really just describing what we do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called home to say, “wow – the library is really doing some cool stuff” – especially when it comes to what’s available for the SRL.
What is the funniest or most memorable patron interaction? One morning when I came in to open the library, I discovered a patron had already come into the library, turned on the public computers, and tried to log into them. I’m not sure exactly what she was thinking, but this patron tried to guess the login password. She tried to login to each public computer so many times they locked down because of too many unsuccessful login attempts. When I arrived, she was waiting for me at the reference desk and was very perplexed that none of the public computers recognized her login credentials. (As far as I know, patrons have never been assigned their own login credentials at this library.) While we waited for IT to come and save the day, I explained that patrons here do not have their own login credentials. Next time she doesn’t know how to log in to a public computer, she should ask an employee for help. And really – never guess passwords not your own… Ever. Just as a librarian for help.
Did this internship change your library career plans? I can’t say that I am exclusively looking for law librarian positions, but I’ve definitely broadened my job search to include law libraries. I’ve enjoyed working in the law library, and wherever I end up – be it law, public, or academic library – I am excited to apply the skills I’ve learned here.
We will certainly miss Katharine and wish her the best of luck in the library career!