Junior Fellows Show Off Summer’s Finds
By Rebecca Naimon
Each summer for 10 weeks, a cohort of Junior Fellows summer interns delves headfirst into the many ongoing projects across the Library. Made up of undergraduate and graduate students from across the country, these fellows get the rare opportunity to hone a variety of library skills, from archival research to chemistry, in the largest library in the world.
On July 26, the fellows hosted their annual display day showcase to cap their time at the Library. While the Junior Fellows program has existed since 1991, this year’s display day was the first time that the event was open to the public.
Library staff and visitors alike toured the rooms of Mahogany Row in the Jefferson Building. Fellows presented an assortment of illustrated Yiddish children’s books, photographs and cassette tapes of Hispanic literary greats, wax cylinder fragments and improved cleaning methods, digital-data visualization projects for a guide for Library researchers and newly catalogued baseball sheet music housed in unexpected places, among many other displays.
Tyler Feezell, a Ph.D. student in Chinese at Arizona State University, began the summer expecting to verify holding records of the Chinese Local Gazetteers Collection. “It quickly shifted after the Geography and Map Division gave a presentation on the new ArcGIS software,” Feezell said.
Housed in the Asian Division, the gazetteers comprise a rich source of historical and geographic information on pre-1958 China. Feezell embedded the records, nearly 3,000 in number, within an interactive story map. In addition to a selection of the physical gazetteers, his display included a screen that showed a map of China covered in red dots that, when clicked, displayed the detailed records for each gazetteer. Feezell said he hopes to continue in academia as a professor. “Broadly,” he said, “I think the process forced me to think about ways I might distill my own Ph.D. research for broader audiences.”
Kelsey Hughes, working in Educational Outreach, also paid close attention to her audience. She created an activity book to engage student visitors to the Library in thinking about primary sources and American symbols. Her display consisted of the five images of bald eagles she chose to include in the booklet. They ranged from the most naturalistic – a Carol M. Highsmith photo of a bald eagle – to the most symbolic: Members of the military forming the image of an eagle with their bodies.
“The hope is that by guiding students from the most straightforward and real image of the eagle to the more abstract, that will also guide their thinking toward the idea of symbols,” Hughes said. “I was trying to think carefully about what resources a student might get the most out of even if a teacher or facilitator wasn’t able to be on hand to help them think and make meaning.”
Hughes is pursuing a master’s in library science at the University of Maryland and said she hopes in the distant future to be director of a public library, but that the fellowship broadened her idea of her future career.
“I could also see myself enjoying working in an environment more like the Library of Congress, as long as I am involved with programming, youth services and other public-facing tasks in one capacity or another,” she said.
Tess Kulikowski, an interior-design major at Savannah College of Art and Design, and Alexandra Smith, pursuing a master’s in library and information sciences with a specialization in archival studies at the University of Alabama, worked together in the Manuscript Division on the I.M. Pei and E.O. Wilson archival processing projects. They came from different educational backgrounds but were each nevertheless prepared for their particular collections.
Kulikowski spent her summer processing the Library’s oversize collection from world-famous architect Pei, rehousing architectural plans too big to fit in standard boxes.
She said that her three years living in Paris as a child gave her both the love of architecture and the French-language skills necessary to interpret many of Pei’s documents, including his preliminary drawings of the Louvre Pyramid, which were a part of her display.
“You know those little kid games where you put the shape in the hole? I was the right shape for the hole of the collection,” Kulikowski said.
Her display also included Pei’s presentation drawings for the East Building of the National Gallery and a 1989 postcard Jackie Kennedy Onassis sent to him from the Louvre Pyramid to congratulate him on its opening. Smith’s work was to process the papers of Pulitzer Prize-winning entomologist and author Wilson. Hailing from the University of Alabama, Wilson’s alma mater, Smith said she had the opportunity as an undergraduate student to study his work and meet him, so working on the collection was particularly special for her.
“He’s truly an amazing human being and one of the most important scientists of our time,” she said. The items she chose to display centered on his life as a budding scientist before he was famous. They included a 1946 photo of him holding a rattlesnake, a map of a swamp he drew for an essay in a high school English class and his meticulous undergraduate lab drawings.
Because archival work is her future career, Smith said, working at such a world-class institution was an unparal-leled experience.
“The Junior Fellows program has given me the opportunity to cut my archival teeth on priceless collections of American history and knowledge while surrounded by perhaps the wisest people I will ever come to know,” Smith said. “Every aspect of this program has altered my understanding of libraries, special collections and myself. I am eternally grateful.”
Randall Jones worked in the Public Information and Education office of the Copyright Office.