Laurel Murphy ’24MS Supports UN Delegates with a McGrath Research Grant
The internship was the perfect blend of my interests: international work, and library and information science.
Laurel Murphy received a McGrath Global Research Grant to cover travel expenses for her internship at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) Library in Bangkok, Thailand, a collection of UN official documents and resources to support development in the region. We spoke to Murphy about her experience at the UN.
“The UN has a lot of information to manage, but I didn’t realize that they have physical libraries,” says Laurel Murphy, now back in the states after an extended time working abroad. “ESCAP is the only UN library serving Asia, and I loved learning about that region.”
From April to June of this year, Murphy worked digitizing library resources, improving metadata records, shelving reference books, weeding the collection, and cataloging items. She also took college students on tours of the UN, trained incoming interns in library services, offered reference services, designed publicity materials for the library, and updated library policies aligned with sustainable development goals. “My internship supervisor wanted to give me a well-rounded experience in the library,” she recalls. “I liked having a variety of things to do and the opportunity to learn more about working in the UN. It’s a large organization and pretty complicated. It took me a while to understand how they keep everything moving.”
Murphy was invited to attend meetings with delegates from other countries, including the 79th session of ESCAP, held in May 2023 at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok. “The delegates were drafting resolutions for the Informal Working Group on Draft Resolutions meetings,” she says, referring to a session focused on climate initiatives and sustainable global goals. “I supported the reference librarian in those meetings. Any time a delegate needed more information, [we] searched the system.”
As Internships at the United Nations are unpaid, Murphy was able to take advantage of the opportunity thanks to a McGrath Global Research Grant (there are also grants available for undergraduate students). “The McGrath grant came at the perfect time,” says Murphy. “The internship was the perfect blend of my interests: international work, and library and information science.”