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Summer Internship at University of Ghana’s Balme Library in Accra, Ghana, Africa

Below is the first of a series of blogs that will be shared by UMSI students who participated in summer 2012 internships abroad.

My name is Stacy Maat and I spent a month of my summer at the University of Ghana’s Balme Library in Accra, Ghana, Africa. In February 2012, I received an email from the Career Development Office which contained a few internship opportunities at the University of Ghana. One of the positions listed was called Staff Development and Training for Digitalization of Collections and Historic Documents (iTrack ID #719979). Despite the typo, I emailed Ms. Gifty Boakye at Balme Library, and copied in Kelly Kowatch. It was not long before I realized that I was able to work in Ghana.

In order to actually go to Ghana, I needed to locate some funding for the trip. I had to quickly apply for funding from the African Studies Center and from the School of Information. After several weeks of waiting, I learned that I did not receive any funding from ASC, but was able to get most of what I need from UMSI. The next day I had to book my flight to leave two weeks later. There was a lot of running around that I needed to do in order to make sure I was ready to go: I needed to apply for a Visa, get all the necessary vaccinations and medications, buy lightweight clothes, and still figure out housing and arrival arrangements. As such, the two weeks between when I found out I had funding and the time I left were absolutely crazy.

Once I arrived in Ghana, things worked out really well. I landed in Accra, Ghana, and was greeted by Amanda Kauffman (also from UMSI) who had arrived a week and a half earlier, and Justice from Balme Library. Amanda and I were staying in the dorms (or as they call them, hostels) on University of Ghana’s campus.

The very next day, I met the head librarian at Balme, as well as senior staff members, and it seems like everyone in the library! I was also told that two days later Amanda and I needed to present a seminar on digitization in order to orient senior staff members on what it is, and what we were going to be doing during our time in Ghana. In order to prepare the presentation, Amanda and I relied on key readings from some of our uMSI classes, as well as some of our personal previous work experiences. The seminar went very well, with library staff taking notes and asking lots of questions.

The following week or so, I helped contribute to both the Digitization Workflow Policy and the Institutional Repository Policy for Balme Library, both of which were in draft form at the time. Balme Library is working to remain one of the top research libraries in the world, and in order to do so, they needed to establish clear policies on digitization and adding items into their institutional repository. These two policies help the library achieve it’s mission, as well as provides instructions and guidance to library staff members on what they need to be doing.

The remainder of my time there was more hands on as I was able to learn how to use several document, book, and microfilm scanners. I learned how to scan unbound documents using Inotec’s automatic Scamax M06 Digital Scanner. After learning how to use it, Amanda and I created a workflow document for the scanner, so staff members at Balme Library would be able to follow directions and guidelines when they need to scan a document.

I also learned how to scan a book using the Atiz BookDrive Pro and BookDrive Mini scanners and how to post-process the images using BookDrive Editor Pro software. How to scan microfilm and microfiche materials using the Mekel M200X scanner and post-processing of images using Image Mate for Presentation. Finally, I learned how to scan books using the Kirtas Kabis II automatic scanner with the post-processing of images using Kirtas’ Book Scan Editor Software. If I had been able to stay in Ghana for more than a month, I would have created workflow documents for each of these scanners.

My internship in Ghana was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. It is not everyday that you can take what you learn in class here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and apply that and teach others in Ghana, Africa. The internship activities themselves were incredibly rewarding, but by going overseas for the first time and immersing myself in a completely different culture now gives me a defining experience that will set me apart from my peers when applying for jobs in a few months.

Posted by kkowatch at November 5, 2012 12:19 PM

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