This is a guest post by Lindsay Musil, the 2023 Elizabeth Brown Pryor Intern and Junior Fellow in the Manuscript Division.
Describe your experience working as a Junior Fellow in the Manuscript Reading Room.
As a Junior Fellow working in the Manuscript Reading Room, I had the chance to talk to Manuscript researchers, historians, archivists, and librarians while I assisted with reference services. It was a great way to learn about the diverse collections the Manuscript Division has in its custody. Between working at the reference desk and my display day project I was very busy managing different responsibilities. I loved the internship experience, from talking to my coworkers and my intern cohort, to getting acclimated to Washington, D.C. It has been a worthwhile adventure!
Outside of my reference work, my Junior Fellow Display Day project, “Enhancing Engagement with Manuscript Collections: Leveraging Blogs to Explore the Research Experience,” focused on cultivating ideas for a blog series that spotlights the Manuscript Division’s collections by looking at the research experience through my perspective as both a student and library professional. Writing blogs and making suggestions for future blog posts, as well as recommending additional content in LibGuides, has been incredibly fulfilling. Knowing that my work here will make a lasting impact is one of my favorite parts about this internship. I can look back and say “Wow, I really accomplished something this summer!”
Why did you apply to the Library of Congress’s Junior Fellow program and why did you want to work here?
This is going to sound very cheesy, but when I applied to graduate school to pursue an M.S. in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I wrote in my statement of purpose that I wanted to work at the Library of Congress! When I learned about the Junior Fellows program through my university I immediately applied. It really is a dream come true to work at the Library of Congress and provide reference services to those who venture into the Manuscript Reading Room.
What has been your favorite collection to work with?
With over 12,000 collections held by the Manuscript Division, this is a tough question! My favorite collection to work with so far has been the Vincent Price Papers since I’m a huge fan of his work in horror films. While looking through his personal papers I learned that he was a gourmet cook and an art consultant, collector, and critic! I was delighted to see that there is a large amount of fan materials, letters, and art sent to him throughout his career. One of my favorite pieces of fan art was a vibrant watercolor painting of Vincent Price playing the piano as Dr. Phibes in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971). Another item that stuck out to me was a hand-drawn cartoon version of Vincent Price that was drawn onto the storyboard proposal for his appearance in the 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985) television series. I assumed that this drawing of the horror mogul’s likeness was included by the production company to further convince Price that he should take on the role as the friendly “mystic” who helped Scooby and the gang throughout the thirteen episodes.
What sparked your interest in becoming a librarian?
When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of North Texas in 2020, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I thought to myself, “Well, what job did you want when you were a kid?” At the top of my list was to be an archaeologist. I hate sand and dirt, so that was out of the question! Second on my list was to be a librarian. Right then and there something clicked in my brain and I knew that it was the job for me. The library was always a safe space for me growing up. It wasn’t just a space to check out books, it was a community center full of life. I started working at my local public library and academic libraries in my area while applying to graduate programs across the United States. I’m currently pursuing a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the rest is history!
Share a time when an item from the Library’s collections sparked your curiosity.
All the time! There is so much to discover, it’s like looking at a treasure map and seeing worlds waiting to be explored. The Ralph Ellison Papers, specifically the correspondence between Fanny McConnell Ellison and her family, is one of the collections that has sparked my curiosity. There is not much written about Fanny Ellison beside the fact that she was married to Ralph Ellison, who famously wrote Invisible Man (1952). Her wit and personality come alive in her correspondence with constant remarks about the weather and an ongoing conversation about replacing an uncomfortable mattress. It caught me off guard how attached I became to Fanny as I consulted the folders filled with newspaper clippings and hand-written birthday and holiday cards from various members of her family. Fanny Ellison’s career before meeting Ralph Ellison feels like an unexplored world, and I can’t wait to learn more about it through my time in the Manuscript Reading Room.
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