Learning to Love Hispanic Lit in a Month

The following is a guest post by Aubrey Hobby, who completed a month-long internship at the Library of Congress Hispanic Division over the Hollins University Short Term.

Aubrey Hobby. Photo by Matt Blakley.

Aubrey Hobby. Photo by Matt Blakley.

I grew up a reader and writer, a lover of the written word in all of its forms. I wrote a lot in high school and took advantage of my school’s excellent English program to explore a wide variety of literature and literary styles. I also worked in my school library, as part of a school-wide community service and outreach effort. I shelved books and helped with programming, and ultimately the head librarian, Julie Jones, became my academic advisor.

A year and a half ago, I began college at Hollins University. I applied to Hollins’ Signature Internship Program this past fall—the program offers internships to sophomores, juniors, and seniors in a variety of fields during our January Short Term. I jumped at the chance to intern at the Library of Congress, a place I had gotten a chance to visit as a child and had fallen in love with instantly. Even though Hispanic Literature is not my specialty—I took Latin in high school and college, and my reading habits tend towards fantasy, juvenile literature, mysteries, and fairy tales—I accepted the internship with no hesitation. My love for learning and literature and my willingness to try something new outweighing any of the few hesitations I may have had. I hoped the experience would be a good complement to my studies; as an English and Political Science double major, working at the largest library in the world seemed like a dream come true. I also hoped that my internship would give me insight into the day-to-day functions of libraries, as I am considering pursuing Library Science after graduating.

Over my short time here, I have gotten the opportunity to be involved in a number of projects. I have researched and written author biographies for both the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape and the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, transcribed interviews for the Center’s Spotlight on Hispanic Authors, and contacted publishing houses and photographers to secure the rights to use photos of authors for the Archives. I have gone to events and presentations given by other departments within the Library, received a special tour of the Children’s Literature Center, eaten lunch with Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, received instruction on the many varied jobs and projects going on at the moment, and gotten the chance to do some independent research on the side. It’s been an amazing experience. Everyone has been very warm and welcoming, especially considering that I do not know Spanish and was only here for a month.

My favorite aspect of the internship has been working with the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape. My work researching authors in order to write short bios for them led me to discover authors I would probably have never known about otherwise. It was never boring researching their wildly different and intriguing lives—from the first democratically elected president of Guatemala to a man who taught himself how to read and write while in prison to one of the most notable and celebrated contemporary art critics in Colombia.

After graduating college I am planning on completing a year of service, possibly with AmeriCorps, and then moving on to graduate school. I am grateful for the amazing education and experience I received while I interned at the Library of Congress, and I have gained a new perspective on Hispanic Literature (and have expanded my summer reading list too!). I am honored to have been a part of the Library community, and I will never forget my time here or the people I have met.

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