Amy Poe, a graduate student in the MLS program enrolled in the Virginia-West Virginia cohort, is one of two persons selected for the Alaska State Library Internship Project this summer. The goal of the internship project is to provide assistance to public libraries in Alaska that lack staff expertise to sustain long-term projects that would benefit their libraries and communities. The project will also provide internship and professional development opportunities for MLIS students and lead to an increase in the number of MLIS students applying for jobs in Alaska.
Beginning this month, Amy will begin her internship with the Petersburg Public Library in Petersburg, Alaska, where she will employ user experience design to improve the quality of the Petersburg Public Library users’ interactions and perceptions of the library as a whole, and apply the design to both the virtual and physical experience of the library. With the book Useful, Usable, Desirable: Applying User Experience Design to your Library by Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches as a trusted companion, Amy will review the physical library space, service points, policies, and customer service. She will also evaluate library signage and wayfinding, the library’s online presence, and how patrons use the library during her eight-week internship.
A current library assistant at Hayfield Secondary School, a library serving more than 3,000 students in grades 7-12, Amy’s path to library science has been an interesting one. Prior to pursuing her MLS, Amy worked as an organization effectiveness consultant, where she supported clients ranging from government organizations and local non-profits, to global corporations in the healthcare and financial services industries. She also served in Germany as a U.S. Army Logistics Officer, overseeing the unit's budget and property book, and coordinating operations. She holds an MBA with a concentration in Transforming Organizations, from the University of Maryland. It was halfway during this program, and after completing some interest inventories at the University Career Center, that she realized that library science might be a good fit for her. The profession was certainly not foreign to her, as her mother had also worked in the public library for 30 plus years.
Amy credits timing and the UNT program in helping her to be able to transition into a new career. After hearing about the Virginias cohort program, she attended an information session shortly after, and realized that night that it was the right degree and field for her.
"The onsite portions of the cohort program at VCU in Richmond really helped in getting to know others on the same path and gave me the confidence to start building a professional network. Additionally, opportunities, on several occasions, to represent UNT at the Virginia Library Association (VLA) fall conference allowed me to meet other UNT alumni already working out in the field," says Poe.
In addition to her role as a library assistant, Amy volunteers her time on the weekends as a Market Manager for the Fairfax County Lorton Farmers Market. She also serves as class reporter for Bucknell Magazine and as a School Board Member at Prince of Peace Lutheran School. Amy, her husband, and three children reside in Lorton, VA. In her spare time, you can find her reading, running on one of the County's many jogging trails, cooking up a storm, or traveling with family.
Excited about the opportunity to take on an internship in Alaska that also aligns with her previous work experience, but in a different setting, Amy shared with us what she hopes to contribute and learn from this experience:
- What made you decide to apply for this opportunity?
Last year, I noticed an internship announcement with the Alaska State Libraries in one of the UNT listserv messages. I was intrigued by the opportunity, having previously traveled to Alaska, but the timing was not right for me. This year, I had the flexibility to travel and, because the internship aligned well with my past consulting experience helping clients enhance organization effectiveness, I jumped at the chance to apply, excited by the prospect of putting those skills to work in a library setting.
- What are you looking forward to the most about the internship?
I am very excited to learn more about User Experience Design and its implications for library service and operations. It will also be my first opportunity to contribute in a public library setting where I expect library services are all the more vital for a relatively smaller community. Getting to know the library users will be a top priority and I look forward to developing a relationship with the community—a fishing village of roughly 2,000 people—and experiencing their way of life. Generally speaking, I love being in the outdoors, so spending time in a beautiful part of the United States will be an added joy.
- What do you hope to achieve, and also contribute to the library?
As a newcomer, I hope I can bring a fresh perspective on their library operations, enabling them to enhance access and expand their reach to underserved segments of the community. It will be important to get to know library users and develop an understanding of how the library is meeting their needs, or what gaps in service might exist. The challenge will be finding non-library users and identifying how the library can become a relevant and meaningful community space for them, too. Putting into practice what I’ve learned through UNT’s College of Information will give me new insights as I wrap up my degree.
- How do you think the UNT program has prepared you to compete for this internship?
What has really impressed me about the UNT program is the incremental learning from one semester to the next. Building on the core coursework in information resources, information organization—including information behavior—and through electives like collection development and resource description and access, I feel well grounded in approaching this internship. Through many of my core courses, as well as my electives, we’ve examined current practice as well as emerging trends on the horizon. That future oriented take on not just technological but strategic aspects of the profession has prepared me to think openly and critically about the information organization settings I encounter.