This Spring I was given a gracious opportunity to intern at The Altoona Area Public Library in Altoona, Pennsylvania (my hometown). The Library offers many programs and services for its visitors including networking and social media classes, book sales, fingerprinting, and so much more. The Library staff were incredible, and they were determined to help me in anyway the could. As soon as I walked through the front door, they showered me with kindness and did everything in their power to help me reach success.
I worked in the special collections department under the Library Archivist, which enabled me to get hands on experience with some of the Altoona Area School District’s most unique items. My primary responsibility was to process the artifacts in the Library’s Alumni Room and create a finding aid that visitors could utilize to find the locations of the objects within the room. I also had to clean, organize, move, and order various items that would enhance the aesthetic appearance of the room and its contents. I was also able to discover a very rich history of the Altoona Area School District by reading through old yearbooks, scrapbooks, and personal correspondences.
After creating the finding aid, and testing it out myself, I found my creation to be something that was very accessible and streamlined. It was great to know that someone could use my finding aid as a guide, and would then be able to match what they were looking for with a corresponding box or file folder.
The Altoona Area Public Library enlightened me in a very empirical way. It was a hands on chance to put the skills and techniques I learned in my Public History courses to the test, and it more than enhanced my hopes in pursuing a degree in the public history field. The skills and lessons I learned due to this experience were of great importance and influence to me. I will make sure that I never forget to put them to use in my future endeavors within the public history realm.