A successful project supported by the University Diversity Fund

I recently completed a four-week internship with the Decolonising Through Critical Librarianship group. The project was to overhaul the group’s WordPress blog. The aims included improving accessibility and user engagement. It would also require reorganising the content whilst ensuring it was expandable and straightforward to maintain. I was to work closely with the whole team, particularly my two supervisors, with whom I would meet regularly via Zoom as the internship was entirely home-based. Additionally, there were to be opportunities to engage with various faculty members and graduate trainees on ideas around librarianship and decolonisation.  

The new platform

I’m working towards securing my first position in academic libraries, retraining after a career in visual impairment access technology. I had experience with coding and the WordPress platform. The internship represented an opportunity build on my recent information service experience, encompassing periods as both library and archive assistant. So, my confidence was high when I attended our introductory team meeting. Perhaps I thought I already knew what was needed and how to bring the whole project together. But his wasn’t to be the case. Rather, I found the internship challenged me to extend myself throughout the four-week project. 

There were obvious gaps in my experience and some skills needed updating, so I considered which areas I’d need to develop. For much of that first week I was re-familiarising myself with trends and developments in design and editing for WordPress, HTML and accessibility standards. This helped inform my initial evaluation of the original DTCL blog and subsequent organisational and design choices. 

Seeing this project through to completion meant overcoming the impulse to dive straight in (risking becoming overwhelmed and grinding to a halt). The experience I have gained in managing my time, planning and research has been invaluable. I was fortunate to have the support of a very approachable and committed team to provide guidance and encouragement. Between us there was a collaborative exchange of ideas and opinions via Zoom. I welcomed the opportunity to engage professionally in this way, being germane to current working practices, and it remains a personal highlight of my internship. 

The internship also afforded an opportunity to learn from experience across the university libraries. I engaged with a variety people with regard to career development and gained insights into the various library departments in relation to decolonising. This was all particularly valuable for me as my experience of academic libraries is relatively limited. 

On reflection the whole experience has been positive. It’s been a creative and collaborative process. My digital skills are refreshed and updated. My knowledge and appreciation for academic libraries has deepened. I’ve planned and researched my own project. I have a new confidence in myself and in what I could bring to a library position as I prepare for interviews. I’m quite proud of what was achieved during the internship. DTCL blog looks cleaner, is more approachable and super easy to navigate. I’ve also worked closely with a great team of individuals. All of the above came together to make this an invaluable personal experience. 

Mark Harding

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