What I’ve Learned Thus Far

As this is my first post, I’ll make a quick introduction. My name is Samantha and I’m currently interning at a local museum library.  It’s an organization that runs on the back of volunteers and interns like myself because it is a state run museum that is dreadfully underfunded.   In my short time there I’v become aware of the great personal rewards and severe limitations that are part of that job.

For example, anyone who has a shred of interest in history can spend their whole day just combing through the collection and countless items of interest.  Since I’m in Las Vegas, there is no end of information available on the early history of the town and the Mob Era.  Personally, I think this is some of the most fascinating local history I’ve ever read.  On a personal note I was able to locate my husband’s grandfather listed in a phone book from 1962.  He was in the U.S. Air Force and stationed here at Nellis Air Force Base for a few years.  It’s not much but it’s fun on a personal level only because no-one keeps old phone books.

On the flip side, there are huge staffing and budgetary limitations that must be dealt with on a daily basis.  My current project revolves around reorganizing the publication collection at the library.  This collection houses magazines and periodicals specifically relating to Las Vegas or the local era going as far back as the 1950’s.  Previous volunteers and interns had taken matters into their own hands with the collection, rather than consulting with the Curator, and now we are trying to fix items that are out of order, mislabeled, and (more worrisome) becoming damaged due to improper storage.  It’s very hard to contend with that kind of chaos when there are limited hands to help.  I very much admire my site supervisor for her dedication to the collection in the face of this frustration.

I hope to make this line of work my career as I find historical archives fascinating so I’m very glad for the option to work in a museum such as this. It’s given me great perspective on the pitfalls and rewards I will encounter on a daily basis. I would like to think the situation might be better were I to work at an organization that is not publicly funded.  I’m under no delusion that a private organization wouldn’t have their own issues with which to contend.  Had I not taken this internship, I wouldn’t have been as forewarned as I am now and I’m so grateful that I am.  At least now I have an idea of what it takes to fight the good fight.


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