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Guest Blog: Summer Intern LeyAnne Ward

Department News, Hispanic Collections

In the second installment of our intern guest blogs, LeyAnne Ward describes her experiences working with University Archives. We’re very pleased to have Alison and LeyAnne here for the fall semester as well.

I have always found libraries and, therefore, research to be fascinating, and was quite thrilled when I was given the opportunity to enroll in the English 4390: Professional Internship course, and secure a position at the M.D. Anderson Library where my main responsibility was to organize and compile a preliminary inventory of the Arte Público (a Hispanic press located at the University of Houston) Collection. My internship proved to be an extremely rewarding experience that I will cherish for years to come.

I eagerly began my first day as an intern in the Special Collections Department. From the beginning, I was graciously welcomed by librarian Julie Grob , who after a brief orientation, took me on a tour of the stack room, which houses all archival materials: historical documents, paintings, and ancient writings. Another facet to the stack room that I found interesting was the shelving. I had worked at a library before, but had never heard of nor seen mechanical shelves. Mrs. Grob allowed me to operate them, and I was amazed at how each shelf moved with the simple push of a button.

As mentioned earlier, my main responsibility was to organize the Arte Público collection and put together a preliminary inventory, a list of contents created upon receipt of a collection to provide a basic physical and intellectual description of the materials to aid researchers in their work. As a student intern, my other duties included learning about the founding of Arte Público Press and receiving instruction about the inventory as a step in the archival process. Most of the materials I dealt with were published drafts and manuscripts of works ranging from many categories and genres such as adult fiction, picture books, juvenile fiction, and much more.

My project supervisor Dick Dickerson (University Archivist) explained the process of how a Special Collections inventory is developed, including the various revisions it must undergo before it is complete. Mr. Dickerson then directed me to the Arte Público Press’ website. It proved to be beneficial avenue to learning about the press and I was very impressed with their goals and achievements.

After browsing through Arte Público’s online biographical page, I decided to research some of the titles I had come across in the stack room and read the synopsis for each one. About half of the titles belonged to Piñata Press, a branch of Arte Público, which publishes children’s and young adult novels. Most of the stories serve as character building tools that both educate and entertain young readers of Hispanic heritage.

Judging the entire scope of the internship, I would say that it has been a positive experience for me. Working in Special Collections was quite a treat, and I was able to see how an archival department was run, as well as the role that each staff member plays in the successful functioning of a library. As my internship came to a close, I realized that I had gained much satisfaction from the work I was doing and I decided that if the opportunity should arise, I would again intern in Special Collections as it would give me great pleasure to see the Arte Público project to its completion, and learn more about archival processing.

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