This fall, we had two interns from the University of Maryland’s School of Information. Andrew Staton, a genealogist and soon-to-be archivist, and Rosalind Seidel, a soon-to-be a rare books and special collections librarian. We benefited greatly from all of their work to preserve the history of the Washington Office, and look forward to welcoming more interns in the spring semester. Should you have an interest in interning with the Washington Office, send your resume to email@example.com.
I am proud to have been able to accomplish several things during my time at the Washington Office, such as drafting responses to reference questions received by the office and updating the catalog to reflect the office library’s most current holdings. As part of my primary goal, I was able to organize, describe and package several collections to send to the ALA Archives, including:
- Records of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS)
- Records of the White House Conference on Library and Information Services (WHCLIS)
- Photographs from throughout the Washington Office’s history
- Various audio-visual materials including VHS tapes and DVDs
- Materials related to the Library Services and Construction Act and its successes
- The papers and records of Germaine Krettek, Eileen Cooke and Carol Henderson, three of the Washington Office’s former directors
While getting these collections processed was my primary task, one of the most rewarding parts of my internship was the special opportunities that were offered to me. I was able to expand my experience outside of the Washington Office, getting to see the DC Public Library’s temporary archive space, a temporary exhibit at the Library of Congress, and tour the ALA headquarters during a trip to Chicago, among several other networking opportunities. These experiences allowed me to see an even bigger picture of the current library landscape, which will be helpful in guiding my future endeavors.
During the course of my internship, I gained knowledge about library advocacy and how policy affects the ways in which we receive information. I benefited greatly from my experience at the Washington Office, and I would highly recommend an internship to anyone interested in special collections, the government’s relationship with information and libraries, information policy and library advocacy.
The first project I worked on dealt with the National Library Legislative files, which took me through a 43-year history of library advocacy. This was especially interesting with the approach of NLLD 2018 this May. I got to see the progression of important issues like the Library Services and Construction Act, the Library Services and Technology Act, federal funding for libraries, and access to government information. After this project was complete, I wrote a blog post about the files and my experience with them. The blog was an exciting prospect because it served as my first professional publication in the field of information science.
I also helped the effort to edit and consolidate the tags used on the blog, which will make information on different subjects more accessible. In doing this, I also got to see the key issues the Washington Office is concerned with in more recent history. I think that together, these projects gave me a well-rounded sense of what the Washington Office has accomplished in the past, and what they continue to strive toward.
Working with the Washington Office History file, by far my favorite project, I learned a lot about the success of the Washington Office in effecting change and passing the Library Services Act in 1956. I loved seeing the results of their work, made tangible through 35mm photo slides of libraries and bookmobiles, and congratulatory telegrams sent from librarians and libraries across the country. They illustrated the importance of the Washington Office, which I found truly incredible! These files also contained amazing letters from U.S. Presidents like Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Dwight Eisenhower, and even John F. Kennedy when he was the Senator of Massachusetts. I cannot begin to explain how amazing it was to not only see, but also handle these documents written and signed by presidents – especially as they advocated for libraries.
My internship also allowed me great networking opportunities within the office and with other professionals in the field, from the D.C.P.L. Archives to University Archives at Louisiana State University! I was given insight and advice into the field I plan on entering in a professional capacity within the next several months.