You can call it a mutually beneficial relationship.
For the past six years, the University of Lethbridge Library has had an ongoing association with the University of Western Ontario's (UWO) co-op intern program.
Currently, there are three librarian interns working in the library, each pursuing her Master of Library and Information Science degree at UWO. Carla Reimer and Laura Riggs are originally from Ontario and Emma Thompson was born and raised in Nova Scotia.
The interns work at the Information and Research Assistance Desk, where they assist faculty, students, staff and community members with their research and information needs.
"Hiring co-op students is an excellent way to enhance the level of service the library can provide to our varied clientele," says Brenda Mathenia, associate University librarian-Client Services & Facilities. "I believe in supporting library-specific co-op and placement programs because of my own experience with similar initiatives when I completed my Master of Science in Information."
Beyond working at the information desk, the interns participate in a wide variety of activities at the library. This includes working with professional librarians and library staff to develop the library's collection, update catalog records, deliver introductory information, literacy instruction and create library research guides. Interns also participate in ongoing projects at the library on an as needed basis. These activities provide interns with opportunities to build practical skills and professional knowledge.
"The hands-on experience at the library provides real-world insight that complements the academic theory I studied at school," says Riggs.
Reimer agrees, adding that this experience will give her a better understanding of where she wishes to take her career.
"I look forward to gaining an understanding of the trends within the profession and learning about opportunities within academic librarianship."
The library has an established history of hiring librarian interns from UWO. Since 2007, the library has had interns on staff for four-to-eight month positions. It has proven to be a win-win for both parties and brings a great new perspective into the library.
"Carla, Emma and Laura are a great addition to our staff," says Mathenia. "They bring a level of enthusiasm and energy that is simply refreshing and contagious. Another added benefit is, as students themselves, they provide the library with valuable insight into how students use information, which is helping us in our ongoing efforts to enhance the student experience."
Thompson, who has been at the U of L since September, has gained a real appreciation for the University as she works with its faculty, staff and students on a daily basis.
"The U of L is a top-notch institution with an excellent reputation," she says. "I've found that there's a real engaged student body and I've felt a strong sense of community since I've been here."
This story first appeared in the February 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.