Brian Jimenez is a Fall 2022 Library of Congress intern working on an Indigenous Food and Foodways collection development project. He is the author of the post Maya Foodways: Plant and Food in Ancient Maya Society
What is your background?
I am an undergraduate student at George Mason University where I am majoring in anthropology. With my degree, I hope to go into social advocacy for indigenous and Latine communities, specifically in environmentalism. My family is from El Salvador. However, I grew up in the Winchester area of Virginia. Growing up, one of my interests has been dinosaurs as I find something fascinating about extinct animals and the mysteries that surround them. Throughout college, as I became more educated and exposed to the mistreatment of marginalized communities, I gained a passion for wanting to improve their lives. Not only are they part of my identity, but I also feel I can use my privilege to help. My college experience has provided many opportunities to do so, ranging from research, data collection for communities, and preservation of cultures. More relaxing hobbies include enjoying plants and nature, going on hikes, exploring DC, and hanging out with my friends.
How did you learn about the intern program and why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
Towards the end of my spring 2022 semester, I was looking for a new job, preferably something that helped me build up my professional career and passions. I used an online jobs website and found a position listed with the Library of Congress. However, the specific department and project were not stated in the advertisement. It did mention research and I felt I had experience in that area to help. I applied, thinking it was an interesting position. With the limited information present, it was a gamble. However, that gamble was very much worth it.
How would you describe your internship?
I have loved the internship experience, including everything from my mentor and coworkers, to the work and the surrounding area. Starting off with my mentor, Michelle Cadoree Bradley, who has been amazing to work with and provided me with valuable guidance while giving me independence. We can causally talk and we have a very positive relationship. I will often talk to her about the various places in DC I have explored and she gives me recommendations on new places to explore. She was been very friendly and welcoming. This feeling extends to my other coworkers in the Science, Technology and Business Division.
Many of my days consist of researching indigenous food ways and cookbooks. The beginning of the internship mainly consisted of readings to familiarize myself with food ways and their importance. Since then, I have been searching in the catalog for indigenous cookbooks the Library of Congress has and seeing if I can find any more to expand the collection. While many cookbooks become lost over time, I was still able to find a vast number of indigenous cookbooks to recommend for acquisition. This work makes me proud because I am helping to preserve indigenous culture, which aligns with my passions. Other work has consisted of going to events at museums about indigenous cooking and resilience. These workshops provided an interesting insight and gave me the opportunity to explore DC even more.
What has amazed you the most about the Library?
I have been amazed by the vast amount of resources the Library of Congress holds. My hometown has a decent sized library with the nearest city having a larger library. However, those libraries are dwarfed by the scale of the Library of Congress. Not only are there multiple buildings on Capitol Hill, but there are a vast array of resources available. In addition, as a staff member, I have access to the book stacks and I can see the rows and rows of books firsthand. This feeling is encouraged when using the Library of Congress catalog. While the vast amount of resources can easily become overwhelming, I reground myself by acknowledging the beauty of the buildings and the beauty of having access to education and resources.
What have you learned about the Library that you didn’t know before you started your internship?
Prior to working at the Library of Congress, I did not know anything about the Library. I did not know where the buildings were, that there were multiple buildings, the vast amount of resources, or the projects being worked on. Whenever I used to visit DC, my family never mentioned the Library, thus I was never informed about it. Michelle, my mentor, and the internship program have been extremely helpful in showing me the Library of Congress and what goes on. It has been a pleasure learning and working at the Library of Congress. This feeling makes me reflect on how far I have made it and express my gratitude, however, I still plan to achieve more.
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