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Library Intern Provides Insights on Millennials

Suzanne Lamoreaux
"The Library is very open to change, and interested in how it can respond to changing technologies and the expectations of its students." -- Intern Suzanne Lamoreaux

During the past four weeks, Dana Library has been host to intern Suzanne Lamoreaux, Montclair High School senior, who participated in her school's 12th Grade Career Internship Program. Building on her part-time employment at Montclair Public Library, Suzy selected Dana as the most appropriate place to find out about library and information services as a profession and to better understand how libraries work.

Suzy's internship experience at Dana Library consisted of two components. The first component was designed to introduce her to the principles of librarianship and how they have been implemented at Dana to best serve the faculty and students of Rutgers-Newark. Suzy observed and participated in both the public services offered by the library such as reference and instruction as well as behind the scenes work including collection development and document delivery. In addition, she learned about various types of libraries through field trips and then compared them to Dana.

"The first thing I learned was the most striking: academic libraries are very different from public libraries. As my field trips to the Newark Museum, Rutgers Law and Criminal Justice, and St. Michael's Libraries would show, special libraries are also very different, but just as important. Public libraries rely more on their patrons to find desired materials themselves, while the librarians at academic and special libraries are essential in helping a patron. This is because patrons of academic and special libraries are often under more time constraints than those at a public library. In the cases where a patron or student is desperate to find an article or other resource, the librarians are the heroes who can save the day."

In the second component focusing on research, she served as a "consultant" for Assistant Chancellor and Library Director Mark Winston, who recruited Suzy to participate in an ongoing investigation into the Net Generation's use of information and technology.

"While I was at Dana to learn from librarians and my surroundings, I also served as a consultant on a research project involving the Millennial Generation - my generation. The Library is very open to change, and interested in how it can respond to changing technologies and the expectations of its students. I did research using the numerous databases available to Rutgers, and then interpreted them using my own perspective and opinions. The goal is to inform the Administration about how it can evolve to better meet the needs of the "Net Generation," and make the Library a more attractive place for students."

Suzy concluded:

Librarians are surprised that, despite their seemingly endless knowledge about computers and the internet, students do not know how to navigate electronic databases. It is in the students' best interests to understand how to use these resources - they will no doubt need the skills at some point in their college careers. The broad generation gap between the Millennials and the Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers who work for libraries can be bridged through a combination of the library staff understanding the needs and knowledge of the students, and by the students' willingness to be patient and take different approaches to learning and researching, since instant gratification is something we've come to expect.

Her reactions to the research study findings will be important in offering more effective services to Dana's student users.

Suzy and her mentor, Ann Watkins, are united in finding the internship to be a rewarding learning experience. While Suzy has been positively influenced to think of librarianship as a career, her mentor sees her field of practice with renewed enthusiasm.

Posted June 2010