Senior Mary Laffey speaks with our blogs administrator Hannah Jones, and shares her internship experiences working with both the Van Wylen Library and the Joint Archives of Holland.

Marry Laffey (’21)

What did you work on at Van Wylen? What was your favorite aspect of that internship?
My internship at Van Wylen involved four main “projects”: rewriting databases, interviewing librarians, learning how the library acquires books, and creating my own display in the library. I worked with another student, Becca Stanton, to eliminate confusing jargon from the library’s database descriptions, replacing it with accurate descriptions of the resources each database offered. I also interviewed about 10 librarians, as well as other employees in the library, asking questions about where they attended library science school, what they loved about their jobs, and how they came to their position at Hope. I also shadowed several librarians as they showed me how to order books online, process these books, label them, and finally place them on display in the library. My display was going to be based upon mental illness, but before we could create the display, COVID hit. Thankfully my internship translated pretty well online, and I did my “display” in the form of a LibGuide (an online display of sorts) but I was disappointed that I never got to finish my project.

What are you currently working on at the Archives? What do you like best about this internship?
Unfortunately due to COVID I have had to quarantine twice this semester and have not the chance to spend a solid amount of time working at the archives! When I have been able to be in-person, I’ve worked with diaries, letters, and journals dating back to the early 1900s all from the same family (The Hondelink Family) and I have a lot of freedom in how I organize these materials. Some of my online projects have been transcribing a letter from a WWI soldier.

How do you see your internships being informed by your English major? Are there connections across both internships that you’re making?
Both of my internships have allowed me to further cultivate my love of learning and history in working on projects that allowed me to emphasize the importance of stories. At Van Wylen, I was able to create an entire display on memoirs from people who struggle with mental health, and at the archives, I am reorganizing and transcribing materials so that future generations can hear these people’s remarkable journeys.

What are your plans for post-graduation?
After graduation, I plan to try and find a part-time job or an internship at a public library to get some experience before heading to Graduate School in Library Science. If that is not possible, I hope to gain a position as a technical writer for a charity organization.

What has been your favorite English class (or classes) at Hope?
So many to choose from! I’ve loved taking Intro to Literary Studies with Rhoda Burton, Jane Austen & Oscar Wilde with Emily Tucker, Intro to Literary Theory with Curtis Gruenler, Western Lit with Doc Hemenway, and American Ethnic Literature with Jesus Montano. Honestly though, all the English professors are intelligent, funny, kind, and amazing human beings so no matter what you take, you’ll enjoy it.

Here’s the link to Mary’s LibGuide. If you are interested in adding an internship as part of your Hope College experience, reach out to your advisor to see how to get this set up!

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