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The mezzanine level of the Main Reading Room, June 22, 2019. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.

Galleys, Catalogs, Spreadsheets and Research: an Intern’s Semester with LIT

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This is a guest post by Agnes Redvil, a fall 2023 LOCI intern with Literary Initiatives. 

My time as a LOCI intern with Literary Initiatives has been one of the most fun, explorative, and experimental efforts I’ve ever had the privilege of engaging in! For the past three months, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from boundless forms of virtual research. I’m happy to share the wonderful experiences I’ve had here, from beginning to end.

Picture of intern Agnes in the Poet Laureate's Office
Agnes in the U.S. Poet Laureate’s ceremonial office. Photo courtesy of Agnes Redivl

Working on the National Book Festival
One of my most enlightening projects has been collecting data from publishing catalogs in preparation for the 2024 National Book Festival – which will occur on August 24, 2024. My first major project was supporting a “wish list” of potential books and authors to be selected for the annual Festival. I encountered the meticulous standards of the Library in selecting newly published, thought-provoking works of literature to share with the public. This research included deep-diving into the respective identities of creatives and ensuring the proper representation of each writer, as well as amplifying representation within their written works—whether or not this aligned with their personal stories. This was done entirely using a spreadsheet which became a (frighteningly long) list of potentials. I will—respectfully, and professionally—keep it a buck, though. I was never the biggest fan of spreadsheets. But once I realized that the spreadsheet was not going to grow teeth and eat me alive, I thrived and filled those little boxes out to my heart’s content.

I’ll admit, sometimes I’d get side-tracked looking for something cute (or maybe…terrifying? Depends on the genre!) to add to the “Additional Notes” section—you never know when it may bring out a niche interest that was hiding somewhere deep.

What’s a galley? Who’s BookTok?
During my internship, I was delighted to learn about the basic inner workings of the publishing industry, like the rules of the pre-publishing sphere and what an Advanced Reader Copy (or a galley) is. These kinds of things excite me most, engaging with the complexities of books and gaining new insights, so it was really wonderful to begin here.

In an attempt to gain even more new insights, I found myself formulating many questions since beginning this research: What do audiences wish to see? What genres or concepts remain unsung in the published world yet echo on popular social networking services? What’s happening on BookTok this week? Wait, BookTok—is this the language of my generation? It is! The Library values what people care about. I never expected social media to be such an important vessel for work, but as an avid internet user (and reader and writer and all the other things we have to be avid about), it was really refreshing to be able to rely on something I use in my leisure time for my professional work, too! Although I wasn’t dancing to audiobooks or making video essays on postmodernism in classic children’s books, I became a passionate internet sleuth informing the Library’s research through the voices of the many bookworms on social media sites.

I also found it necessary to ask when scouring the World Wide Web: What does the author of this story desire most? What do they wish for readers to see through their writing and how can I contribute to amplifying their wishes? There is a mutual respect required within this work that I consider to be imperative in creating a successful plan for the Festival.

Guiding the People Towards Meg Medina
Towards the later stages of my work at the Library, I began to work more closely with the Library’s research guides. Being able to contribute to proofreading and ensuring up-to-date information for the Library’s very own National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature guide has given me much to be proud of. My passionate yet predictable English major heart jumps with glee with each chance I get to edit anything!

Color photograph of Library of Congress Great Hall: marble columns, decorated ceilings, and other ornate architecture on display
Library of Congress Great Hall. Photo courtesy of Agnes Redvil

More Fun Things I Did Here

  1. Took some awesome notes. Had some laughs.
  2. A trip to DC! The screen just can’t compare to the REAL Library of Congress.
  3. Took a personality test that told me my work style and chatted about it with my mentors and fellow interns (this was my Joker! I love personality tests).
  4. Stepped out of my comfort zone and became a D-1 Yapper. I really like to chit-chat.

My time at the Library has been nothing short of an incredible and enlightening experience. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me and use all that I’ve learned here in whatever I do next!

Comments (3)

  1. Re:
    Galleys, Catalogs, Spreadsheets and Research: an Intern’s Semester with LIT
    December 19, 2023

    Posted by: Sasha Dowdy

    Defining or Synonym? Is an Advanced Reader Copy also called a galley? Is a galley also called an Advanced Reader copy.

    Some 50 years ago, I delivered galleys to the Security Pacific Bank that consisted of print-outs from our phototypesetter.

    Galley proofs or galleys are letterpress printed proofs of moveable metal type and they were first used in letterpress printing in the 1650s.

    They were named such as the type was placed into a galley or metal tray by the typesetter.

    It also applies to proofs from other types of printing though not from moveable type.

  2. I retired from my LOC 37 year career and live happily on the coast of North Carolina. My gratitude, appreciation, and awe for this institution is infinite. It’s my special pleasure to keep up with the Library’s new and innovative ways to reach out the public, and especially to younger and aspiring generations. I am glad the internship continues to attract and guide future mindful personnel such as Agnes who so succinctly wrote about her experience. I wish her much success in her future endeavors.

  3. It was great reading about your wonderful take aways from your time with us. I want to wish you much more success. Great blog!

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