Hi there, my name is Gabriel Mann and I’m a fourth-year student at the University of Michigan. As an International Studies major and Foreign Service Officer hopeful, I care deeply about international news. And In today’s world, the news is more important than ever. Many people value news as they have a desire to stay up-to-date on events happening all around the world, while students and researchers utilize current or historical news sources to better understand the current state of affairs and the direction we’re heading. There’s just one problem: there’s too much of it. On the internet alone, there is a limitless selection of news and news sources to choose from. The limitless selection means there's certainly something out there you’d really like to see, if you could find it. But how do you find it? This is a question that vexes libraries all around the world. As holders of a vast number of newspaper databases, archives, and publications, libraries grapple with the task of acquiring and organizing the most relevant and useful news content for their patrons. This is just one of the many lessons I’ve learned during my time as a Michigan Library Scholar.
This past summer, I was part of the International News Resources Assessment Project. The goals of this project were to explore the kinds of news content the library is able to provide, more effectively document the process of acquiring international news resources, and have a better of understanding of the news landscape internationally. To accomplish these goals, I completed various tasks that built on one another so that I could achieve the desired level of understanding. In the beginning, I went to multiple orientations and meetings with library staff to learn more about the organization, scale, services, and work within itself in the U-M Library as well how librarians select and acquire new international news content for their respective areas of focus. Then, I compared and contrasted the news sources research guides of various other university libraries, such as Harvard and Columbia, to get a better sense of how other libraries organize news content. I also created a survey as part of an effort to learn more about the library’s current news offerings as well as to realize how the library can best meet the needs of its patrons. It was a small survey that was sent out to only 12 librarians in the International Studies and the Asia Library who encompassed the major regions across the world. Following the survey, I interviewed multiple librarians who filled out the survey to learn more about why they answered the questions the way they did. My final task was to complete an executive summary that included the findings and analysis of the data gathered from the survey and my interviews with librarians. This summary encompassed everything I learned from my time as a Michigan Library Scholar and I learned a lot.
Before I started this internship, I had no clue as to what went on behind-the-scenes at the U-M Library. I mostly took the amazing collection of databases, newspapers, and other helpful content for granted. I saw the library’s content as something that was expected to be there. But over the course of the summer, I learned about how International Studies and Asia Library librarians each work to acquire news content, manage their resources, and make them discoverable for patrons. In doing so, I’ve realized how much effort goes into maintaining relationships with third-party vendors, keeping track of valuable and relevant news content, and how expensive acquiring the content is in the first place. All in all, I have a much deeper appreciation for all the U-M library staff working to make researching a topic an easy and fruitful process.
I had many firsts during this internship. For one, it was the first time I got to work in academic setting. I’ve always been interested in the work culture inside universities and being apart of it first-hand taught me a lot about professional communication. After spending a considerable amount of time speaking with librarians through emails or face-to-face conversations, I realized that there are times when you find yourself in situations that are challenging to handle, this is where having professional communication skills become handy. Something I believe will come very important in whatever career I decide to pursue. This internship was also the first time I was able to meet and speak with librarians from a wide variety of disciplines. I learned a lot about what librarians do and what type of background they come from. I was also very surprised to hear that librarian schools actually exist! As a University of Michigan student, I never really considered working here and I always had a strong desire to get away from what I was familiar with. But the Michigan Library Scholars program led me to discover that a career in higher education is something I should seriously consider. The U-M Library combines technology, communication, and teaching, things I’ve very interested in, in ways that I’ve never seen before. Being a part of the U-M Library made me feel like I was helping improve the research experience of all its patrons. I hope that I can take the the variety of relevant skills I developed, from project management to professional communication, to provide opportunities for others to grow and make an impact in the world.