(This post is by Erika Hope Spencer, French Reference Specialist, European Division)
The European Division said au revoir and farvel to their first virtual interns, Sarah Lancaster and Megan O’Connor. Both Sarah and Megan had strong language skills that stood out to reading room staff and made them invaluable in helping with European Division projects. They were also both studying history and wanted to hone their research skills.
Sarah, an incoming junior at Mount Holyoke College, is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has always loved languages, and although she spent a year working in France as an au pair learning French, she has recently started learning Danish, as well. In the 19th century there was a large emigration of Danish citizens to the United States, primarily settling in the Midwest. Sarah began working with Scandinavian reference specialist Taru Spiegel analyzing the Library of Congress’ Danish-American collections, an area of increasing interest for researchers.
Megan is a Northern Virginia native and an incoming senior at William & Mary University. She was a perfect fit in assisting French reference specialist Erika Hope Spencer on research guides to French material. She worked on a finding aid to the Documents diplomatique français, a collection of France’s foreign relations documents, and compiled data on the Library’s newspaper holdings from the French Revolution and the French Resistance. Megan was drawn to the Library of Congress as a place where she could use her language skills and learn more about her areas of interest.
There was a small learning curve for the first-ever virtual internships in European Division, but within a week there were routines that enabled frequent communication through either email or phone calls. Megan and Sarah were happy to have an opportunity to serve as interns in a safe and responsible way this summer, and the European Division was delighted to have their help. Megan and Sarah were able to get a feel for the Library of Congress by visiting the Jefferson, Adams, and Madison Buildings virtually, checking out exhibits online, and listening to webcasts, such as the one this summer’s “Cultural Institutions at Times of Social Unrest” with the Secretary of the Smithsonian and the Librarian of Congress. The Library’s Internship and Fellowship Programs Office also offered several virtual sessions.
While working on their internship projects during the pandemic, Sarah and Megan also spent time with their parents, walking, and learning cooking. Sarah has been building a boat she eventually hopes to take out on the water! Both hope to come visit the Library once it has re-opened so they can meet the staff and see firsthand many of the collections the have been working on for the last several weeks. The European Division is incredibly grateful to Megan and Sarah for their hard work and great attitudes. Merci beaucoup and mange tak!