The ABC’s of an Internship in a Research/Business Library

by Amanda Marie Yetter, Head Editor, INALJ Maryland

The ABC’s of an Internship in a Research/Business Library

Photo 12Follow along and learn more about internships in a research/business library from …  to    Z.

A:—Collections including Census information, Immigration and Travel, Birth Marriage and Death records even yearbooks and other information such as phone directories and the like. Search for information on relatives by first and last name and estimated birth year. The edition through Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, NC is only featured at the library; call your local library to see if they have a subscription to the awesome features found on

B:   Business/Bibliographies/Biographies— Business—Non-profit sector information on starting a grass-roots business including finding information for grant writing and start up costs. Bibliographies—how to read a Bibliographic Index, where to find additional information for a patron in Bibliographic Databases.  Biographies—Those all too fascinating tales of truth and valor in historical context. Read about local individuals and even any long-lost relatives (or third cousins twice removed…)

C:   Closed Stacks—The hidden gem of a research library, outside of the Reading Room where volumes of marriage, death records and even Bastardy Bonds can be found. Browse the stacks and see the archives, vertical files, CDs, and Yearbooks preserved and retrieved for the public when asked for.

D:   Databases/Dewey Decimal—Databases: ArchiveGrid & Heritage Quest, plus local Web sites on your libraries webpage. ArchiveGrid searches for broad or specific terms and can use truncations such as the tilde of quotation marks to search. Heritage Quest searches census records, books PERSI, Revolutionary War, Freedman’s Bank and U.S. Serial’s set.

E:   Early Settlers—Find where your relatives came from in books regarding Immigrant records, set up mainly like a phonebook, listing age and occupation, along with basic information such as gender and city and country of origination.

F:   Families—Predominant family history can be found in your local library or research library/historical society. Call ahead or search the online catalog (if available in your library system) to see if there are any books related to your ancestors.

G:   Government Documents/Genealogy/Gloves—Government Documents—Census information, local government court findings, even directories of past government officials. Genealogy—Create your family tree at your local library/historical society diving in as deep as you’d like into the wonderful world of family history. Gloves—Don’t forget that when handling archival materials, especially books that you wear gloves to protect the pages from grease and any additional dust, remember that in the 1800s acid free paper wasn’t used to try and preserve the books.

H:   Hoover’s—Business research platform to search U.S. and international company listings by size, industry, people, location, annual sales, and number of employees.

I:   Indexes—Check out Bluesheets to help patrons search indexes that your library has: Tells of important features of each Index that uses Dialog.

J:   Job Searches—O*Net OnLine: sponsored by the americanjobcenter network allows patrons and users to search for Occupations by a Quick Search, or through various Crosswalks to help individuals with resume points and finding new career paths.

K:   Keeping Catalog Clean—We’ve all seen it, an error in the catalog, and while we gasp, it’s important to try to alleviate any errors in the catalog by keeping it up-to-date, especially in a research or business library. If an item is in the Closed Stacks, make sure it reads Closed Stacks in the catalog, if the item is in the Reading Room, make sure that it truly is there. Errors happen, we’re all human, but to fix them before they become a burden to you and to patrons.

L:   Laws—Find old and new laws in the library. Search the databases, indexes, and even the directories to find out which laws are current or even extinct.

M:   Microfilm/Microfiche—I dreaded trying to thread or load a Microfilm/Microfiche reader before being an Intern in the business/research library, but now I feel as if I’m an old pro. It comes along with practice, and it truly is like “riding a bike.” Now, I’m able to help patrons search through Microfilm/Microfiche easily and effectively… just beware of the speed in which you’re searching the reels, as you may become motion sick.

N:   Newspapers—Once again, these are normally on Microfilm/Microfiche after they’re archived and preserved in another form. Patrons request information about Obituaries, Death Notices, Birth Announcements, and Engagements that can be found in your local Newspaper. Some Newspapers even have an archival search that allows users to locate the exact date, section, and page that the information can be located.

O:   Organizations—Non-profit sector of the library, various organization promote their services throughout the library. Check out various events and happenings in your local library.

P:   Patrons—The bread and butter of the library system. They now communicate with librarians and staff through face-to-face questions at the reference desk, e-mail messages, phone calls, and even instant messages.

Q:   Questions—Every librarian and staff member is faced with questions. In a research library the questions vary, and can be rather intense. Remember that all information is confidential while working in a library setting and following the code and conduct.

R:   Research/Requests—Can I help you find something? Searching for books, obituaries, family members and the like all happen in a research library. I’ve even had the opportunity to help someone with creating a resume on Microsoft Word and apply for those wonderful online job applications.

S:   Soundex—Phonetic algorithms for pronouncing names despite variations in spelling. This is imperative not when dealing with Smiths, but when dealing with Soul and Sole. Names are a funny thing, and spellings and pronunciations often change over time, so be sure to check out information on Soundex.

T:   Topography—Maps allow for individuals to see boundaries, buildings, rivers and streams and also how the topography has changed over the years and even centuries. It is interesting to see how counties have expanded or even disappeared entirely throughout history.

U:   Unused Books—Weeding and Deselecting materials. It’s always difficult to get rid of the materials that you’ve come to know and cherish in the library, but alas there comes a time when things become outdated and new, more relevant information is available for patron use. When do you hang on to something, when do you get rid of something? When does an item become valuable? Check out BookFinder: to search for books that maybe of value to your library and may require you to hold onto.

V:   Vault/Volunteer—Vault—Where the secrets are kept in a library, or rather those slides and photographs that are too precious to store in the closed stacks that may be damaged by the elements. These include books too. Many of these items are not available for the public to view, but can be found online thanks to some of the Google book and archival practices of other libraries and organizations. Volunteers—Like patrons, books and even that printer that gets jammed, volunteers are an integral part of making sure that the library runs smoothly. At a research library, volunteers don’t merely shelve books, but archive materials on archival paper, create searching/learning guides for patrons to browse the collection and add an insightful, sometimes non-librarian perspective on things.

W:   Wars—Find information on the Spanish-American War, Revolutionary War, Civil War, World Wars and any other piece of history that your area may hold and cherish.

X:   Xtra’s—Okay, so X was difficult to come up with in an A-Z list, but Xtra’s it is! Here I will talk about linking up to larger libraries in the area, if you’re lucky to have a library that’s affiliated with a larger library setting, such as the library that I intern at is linked up to a larger system, patrons sometimes request books to be set to our library for holds/ pick-up. This allows users who are thrown as to why our library does not have a Children’s section to request children’s books in the catalog and to retrieve them easily and effectively.

Y:   Your Encyclopedias—We have old and new encyclopedias, and sometimes a question that needs to be answered using the New York Public Libraries Desk Reference (we also have a copy of that behind the desk) so know what you do and don’t have, especially if you are a research library. Want a bright, glossy photograph of a Tiger? We have a WorldBook for that.

Z:   Zany Questions—All too often a patron asks a question such as: what do you do in that back room? I respond with the usual diabolical plotting, and reassure the patron that we do a lot of behind the scenes work in the backroom. For example, I can be found blogging about my Internship in the back room right now, and coming up with clever tactics to promote the library.


Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.