Meet our Literary Program Development Junior Fellows!

Ten weeks ago, the Library of Congress welcomed 40 undergraduate and graduate students to its highly selective Junior Fellows Summer Intern Program. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic keeping us at home and working remotely, the Junior Fellows program went fully virtual and kicked into gear with a lot of creative flexibility.

The Literary Initiatives group, which comprises the Poetry and Literature Center and Center for the Book, was thrilled to bring on three Junior Fellows to work on literary program development this summer: Mal Haselberger, Ethan McFerren, and Jake Newman. In just 10 weeks, our extraordinary interns tackled digital projects related to the Poet Laureate, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and the National Book Festival (going 100% virtual for its 20th year). More specifically, they developed LibGuides for former National Ambassadors, researched and presented outreach ideas for the Poet Laureate program (view their Display Day video and accompanying infographic), analyzed and summarized proposals and social media metrics for Jason Reynolds’ “Grab the Mic” platform, and created an interactive web map featuring all of this year’s National Book Festival participants (to be launched later this summer). Somehow, these 10 weeks are coming to an end tomorrow, so we bid them a bittersweet adieu.

Mal Haselberger, University of Maryland

Mal Haselberger

 

Tell us a little about your background.

I earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Art History and English Language and Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2018, and just completed my Master of Arts in English Literature there in May. In the past, I’ve worked in a variety of positions: as a research assistant for a professor’s academic book projects, a studio assistant for a nonprofit art center, and at my university’s book arts studio and makerspace teaching workshops and classes. At the end of August, I’ll begin doctoral studies in Art History at the University of Maryland studying seventeenth-century art and material culture.

What drew you to apply to the Junior Fellows program?

I was drawn to the Junior Fellows program because I wanted to expand my opportunities in learning about the role of cultural institutions and their collections outside of the academic sphere, especially since I’m interested in pursuing museum and cultural studies work as a PhD student. Working with Literary Initiatives this summer helped me to get back to my “roots” in learning more about the direct impact of literature on the public in our contemporary moment. I’ve loved the opportunity to learn about how the Library engages patrons through literary programs like the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Poets Laureate, and the National Book Festival. 

Describe some of the literary projects you’ve been working on this summer.

This summer, my primary task has been creating online research guides for the Library of Congress’ National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. I’ve created six comprehensive guides for resources about the past National Ambassadors, which feature Library news releases and information about each ambassador’s outreach platform, short bibliographies of ambassadors’ works in the Library’s catalog, as well as external resources such as interviews, radio appearances, and book reviews. (Five of those guides have been published: Jacqueline WoodsonGene Luen YangKate DiCamilloWalter Dean Myers, and Katherine Paterson, with Jon Scieszka’s guide launching any day now). Additionally, I’ve also compiled author data for digital maps that will be used for the 2020 National Book Festival, and completed research on the history of the U.S. Poet Laureateship.

Choose one highlight of your fellowship, along with something new you’ve learned or has sparked your interest.

One of the biggest highlights of my fellowship was attending a professional development session with the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, and having the opportunity to ask her questions about her experiences and advice for flourishing in a variety of career opportunities.

In learning more about the history of the U.S. Poet Laureateship for a project completed earlier in my fellowship, I’m very interested in looking further into the history of signature literary programs in the Library’s history prior to the 21st century.

What has your experience been like as a virtual fellow at the Library?

My experience as a virtual fellow at the Library has been so meaningful and special. From my first day, every Library staff member who I’ve interacted with has been wonderful—from getting technical help in our remote working interface, to asking questions of reference librarians about coding for online research guides, and learning more from the Poetry and Literature Center staff about the signature programs that I’ve worked on this summer. While I look forward to being able to meet everyone in person one day, the connections formed in the virtual fellowship have helped me feel as though I haven’t missed an opportunity to understand the Library’s structure, work environment, and goals.

 

Ethan McFerren, University of Virginia

Ethan McFerren

 

Tell us a little about your background.

I am a student at the University of Virginia going into my junior year majoring in pre-professional Architecture and minoring in Global Sustainability. In my spare time I enjoy watching reality TV, reading, drawing, and playing tennis.

What drew you to apply to the Junior Fellows program?

My mother attended an author program with SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and learned about the Junior Fellows program. At the time I knew very little about the Library of Congress, but after doing a little research I decided that it would be a very interesting place to work. I originally applied to the Prints and Photographs Division to work in the Paul Marvin Rudolph Architectural Archive, but once the program transitioned to a virtual platform because of the coronavirus, I was switched to the Literary Initiatives group.

Describe some of the literary projects you’ve been working on this summer.

At the beginning of my fellowship, I worked on sorting proposals from various organizations requesting a visit from this year’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jason Reynolds, for his “Grab the Mic” platform. I then started working on comparing content between the existing and new, soon-to-launch  Poetry and Literature website (stay tuned in the coming months!). Finally I, along with two other Junior Fellows, put together an ArcGIS web map for the National Book Festival.

Choose one highlight of your fellowship, along with something new you’ve learned or has sparked your interest.

One highlight of my fellowship was putting together the web map for the National Book Festival. I knew nothing of ArcGIS beforehand, but after watching videos and getting assistance from members of the Literary Initiatives group, I was able to assemble a map that depicted the filming locations, residences, and hometowns of 126 authors participating in the virtual festival. Something new that I learned was how positions at the Library of Congress impact the public. I had a basic understanding of the National Book Festival, and knew nothing about positions such as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and the U.S. Poet Laureate, but through my fellowship I gained knowledge about what their roles are and the extent to which they are promoting literature and literacy in America and beyond.

What has your experience been like as a virtual fellow at the Library?

My experience as a virtual Junior Fellow at the Library has been both challenging and rewarding at the same time. It was quite an adjustment working on a virtual desktop and meeting online, but it was worth it. I am used to doing different work in college, so it was nice to expose myself to a field of work that I had little understanding of. I became a lot more informed and, in turn, appreciative of all the services the Library of Congress has to offer, and how it has such a significant and positive influence in promoting literature and literacy to the American public. I also was glad to have met my mentors and fellow interns as they helped guide and assist me throughout my internship. I am incredibly grateful to be able to intern at such a prestigious institution as the Library of Congress!

 

Jake Newman, American University 

Jake Newman

 

Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up in Guilford, Connecticut, and like to think I have a great amount of pride for my hometown and New England. This past May, I graduated from American University with a BA in Political Science: Comparative Politics & History.  I plan on going back to school to earn my Master’s degree in international studies, possibly Asian studies or history, and my career goal is to work as a part of either a political or academic institution.

What drew you to apply to the Junior Fellows program?

What particularly drew me to apply for the program in this instance was the possibility of contributing to archives and resources that someone like myself would utilize in their research. My interest in military history and veteran’s affairs originally drew me to the Veteran’s History Project. When the fellowship turned virtual and I was reassigned to Literary Initiatives, the same theme of contribution was present, but in an alternative field outside of my knowledge that is equally interesting.

Describe some of the literary projects you’ve been working on this summer.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to support the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (NAYPL) Jason Reynolds by reviewing social media metrics to reveal trends in viewership and engagement for his “Grab the Mic” video series, “Write. Right. Rite.” Along with the other Junior Fellows in our group, I assisted in mapping the locations of authors contributing to the National Book Festival and collected internal and external resources to curate research guides for past NAYPLs.

Choose one highlight of your fellowship, along with something new you’ve learned or has sparked your interest.

A highlight of this fellowship would definitely be the Internship and Fellowship Program’s continuous Professional Development Series. In this virtual environment, this series has made it very accessible for remote workers like us to become familiar with the Library, its various departments and collections. With both educational and developmental skills, this opportunity provided interns with many resources to kick-start their professional experience and job hunt.

What has your experience been like as a virtual fellow at the Library?

My experience has been great. Of course the experience has largely depended on technology, but every bump in the road has been understood and fixed. What is unique about this experience is that I think everyone put in a bit extra effort to get to know each other beyond the screen name, since we were lacking a physical work environment.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.