AN AMERICAN FUTURE: Library Internships for Immigrant Youth

Learn more about this program by visiting our media page here.

Spring 2011

~I just like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to discover such a new world. I had no idea about the processes of the library and now I know at least a little bit. Of course, I am just in the beginning and I still have a lot to learn, but I am really enjoying the experience.

~My name is Amira. I am 17 years old. I was born in Iraq and I lived in Egypt before I came to the United States with my family 8 months ago. I came to U.S.A. to live in peace away from the wars. I have settled in well  and have made progress in my understanding of the language. I enjoy swimming, reading and visiting museums. I heard about Liberty’s Promise through school and I feel this experience has been most beneficial to me. It has given me so much confidence in myself and in my ability. I believe this will be great  encouragement to help me in my future success in America, which I hope will now become my permanent home.

~My name is Hanh. I’m 20 years old and I have been in the U.S for 2.5 years. I’m from Vietnam. Adjusting to a new environment was a tough but great experience for every single member of my family. I guess being the youngest person in the family makes it a little bit easier for me to adapt to this completely new culture, as well as to learn a new language. Therefore, after a short time in America, the role I play in my family has grown a lot. I have been working about more than 6 months a year since my first year here not only to gain some life experience, but also to support my family financially. It was not easy since I also have to keep up my school work and invest for my future; yet I really appreciate what I’ve been through because it makes me become stronger everyday :).

I heard about Liberty’s Promise from one of my friends who already accomplished the program. I was excited when she told me about her experience. I also notice some improvement of her social skills after the internship so I asked her to show me how to apply for it. I like the working environment best. I have had other jobs before in different places such as at a supermarket or a dental office. At those places, I heard people talking, discussing, dealing with money and about money everyday; and that’s completely comprehensible since they are just doing their business. However, in the library, the atmosphere is very distinguished. It’s a place for education and knowledge, not for business and money.

Through this internship, I’ve learned to be more organized and more responsible. I’ve also learned to communicate more effectively from either trying to understand orders from people or trying to explain something to someone else. Besides all the benefits that I will get from what I’ve learned that I’ve listed above, this experience can help me in a very practical way. For instance, I am offered a work study from my prospective university and I can tell them that I have experience working in a library. It will be a huge advantage on my application form for a job in their library.

August 20, 2010

It has been about seven weeks that I have been working at the library. And let me tell you, it has been a knowledgeable and fun seven weeks! When I first realized that I would be interning at a library, I didn’t expect much of the job, honestly. I assumed that I would be just shelving, maybe doing circulation, and sometimes reading books to children.
But, when I walked into the “Employees Only” room, I discovered that there was a labyrinth of jobs. It was like a clothing store with a sweat shop in the basement…well not really.

Working in the library has been amazing! I’ve learned 70% more things than I thought that I would learn. And since the library I work at is small, (community libraries FTW!) I am able to work with either Circulation (checking in books, checking out books, working on holds, working on the delivery of books to other branches) or Information (keeping track of circulating books and reference books, helping patrons find books, adding books to the branch)!
So far, working in this community library, I have taken on two big “projects”: taking Reference books and changing them to circulating copies and looking through our donation books and seeing if they are worth adding into our collection. Both of these projects are from the Information side, but they are so much fun!

Sure, all the Reference books are Non-Fiction. And I know what you are thinking: nonfiction=boring! Haha, I used to be the same way…until I actually had a good look at the nonfiction books! Changing the Reference books to circulating copies helped me see what type of books we had to offer; it was interesting.My latest project is the checking donations one. This one really brings out the Book Nerd in me. I love books, so looking at fresh and in-good-shape donations makes my heart swell. It’s exciting to play a role in what book gets added in next to our collection. Granted, I can’t make the decision myself, solely on whether I like the book or not… If I were able to do that, we would have many copies of the Twilight series, bleh. Our branch has about seven copies per book of the Twilight series! Whatt?! Haha, that’s economics for you, the whole “supply-demand” thing going on. Moving on, we have to look at the circulation statistics before determining whether we should add the book in our collection or not. Como, how many times has the book been checked out in our branch, if it is even on our branch, how many copies do we have, how long have we had each copy, etc. We also can’t add any books to our collection if it hasn’t already been added to the FCPL system.There are so many things I haven’t talked about here about our community library, like some of the interesting patrons that we get, the loving and close staff, attending a staff meeting. And of course, the free food!Working here at the library has been a blast, to say the least. I wish I were able to work there forever, but I know I must move on and go to college. But, I am happy that I won’t leave here empty handed: I will take my experience working here and the knowledge I learned and apply it to my future!

August 12, 2010

An intern, originally from Ethiopia, points out her schedule for the day.

I have a secret. I have always wanted to work in a library. You know the smell when you crack open an old paperback and the feeling of anticipation because you just know that it will be your new favorite book? I love it. And that is what happens every time I enter those automatic doors of Pohick Regional Library.
“Hi, all!” I say as I wave at Barbara and Florence, who seem to be working at the front desk for the moment. They are always busy. Like bees, they buzz around the library making sure everything is going as smoothly as can be in the busy summer months. I walk through the back to the Pages’ area and put my purse away, all the while smiling and waving at everyone, happy to start a new work day. I check my assignments for the day and smile widely when I see that I am shelving all day; I might be able to grab some books to check out later.
I walk toward the line of carts, laden with books, ready to be shelved. As I walk, I peer at the cubicles and their many decorations. Family pictures and clutter seem to be the norm. I almost laugh out loud when I see someone has managed to get hold of a librarian action figure. Complete with shushing action! Still giggling, I heave a large cart filled to the brim with picture books towards the kid’s area.
A common misconception about the library is that it is so quiet you can hear a pin drop. The sounds of children squealing in laughter and indignation fill the building. A low murmur of conversation can be heard anywhere and the occasional beep can be detected from the front desk area.
I work steadily throughout the day, occasionally stopping to have a quick word with Amy, an intern (like me), who has become a friend in my time here. I manage to finish two picture book carts, a fiction cart, and a couple nonfiction carts before the music starts. Here at Pohick, five minutes before we close up shop, music starts to play to warn people. Secretly, I think it is just for us employees so that we, too, would walk out of work feeling happy.
I smile and tap my feet a little and make my way to where my purse is hidden. Another fulfilling work day, I think as I walk to my car.

August 12, 2010

An intern, originally from Argentina, takes on the Children's section!

This experience was very helpful for me because I did not have any idea about how a library works, and how much I appreciate every workers’ job. At the beginning I was afraid, but the staff were so nice to me, and they taught me each duty carefully. Now I have learned almost everything, and I am very thankful, first to God, to the wonderful Liberty’s Promise for the great opportunity, and to the Thomas Jefferson staff.

August 3, 2010

Amy, originally from South Korea, straightens books at Pohick Regional Library.

I was asked to contribute to a blog about the Liberty’s Promise internship and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my experiences and thoughts with you! This internship is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with how libraries work and to get job experience for your future. I have learned how to shelve books, sort books, shelf read, and so much more but most importantly, I gained interpersonal skills. When working at the library, there are lots of people to meet. Interpersonal skills are what a person uses to interact with other people. How you are perceived by your manager and coworkers plays a large role in things as minor as your day-to-day happiness on the job and as major as the future of your career.

As a side note, this internship is a wonderful way to get your foot-in-the-door to work for a Fairfax County Public Library and to build your resume for other job opportunities coming your way!

~ Amy

(names are changed)

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