We regularly feature the interns whose hard work positively impacts the Library. Today’s interview is with a 2022 Summer participant in the Library of Congress Internship (LOCI) program, Pamela Padilla.
Describe your background.
I was born and raised in Westchester, New York, although my family is from Peru. I went to college in New York City. I have been working in Oregon for the past three years, but I have since returned to New York to attend graduate school at Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY). I am very excited to be back and doing research in a field that I love. I am also excited to do some exploring because there is always something to do in NYC!
What is your academic/professional history?
I am a CUNY system student and alumna, having graduated from The City College of New York with degrees in art history and English literature. I really enjoyed my time at City College, which afforded me several great opportunities, including the ability to travel to Stanford in Palo Alto, CA and participate in research and preparation to apply to graduate school. I am working towards a dual master’s degree in library science and history, with plans to apply to doctoral programs soon. My research topics of interest are early modern Spain, the Inquisition, and the early modern period in South American (specifically Peru).
Professionally, most of my work has been centered in either libraries, the non-profit world, or in museums. Recently, I’d been working as a grant writer for a culturally specific non-profit dedicated to providing wrap around services to the Latino community in Oregon.
How would you describe your job to other people?
I am a Library of Congress Internships Program Intern through the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. I worked with the Latin American, Caribbean, and European Division (LAC&E). As for my day to day, I created digital engagement tools for the Library of Congress so that patrons could have an easier time understanding the historical context of certain materials. I am doing this by creating a StoryMap and 2 blog posts of historical narratives that help to highlight the Library of Congress’ collection of Quechua-Castilian dictionaries and Andean resources.
By researching the historical period, creators, and geographic locations of these dictionaries, I am able to form a narrative of how they came to be, why they were created, and who they ultimately benefited. I hope that, through my work, patrons will be inspired to explore the collection of material in Quechua at the Library of Congress and have learned a bit more about the beautiful language, culture, and history of the Andean region.
Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
I have wanted to work for the Library of Congress since I discovered that they have an extensive collection of Quechua material. I have been learning Quechua throughout the past year and a half, and I wanted to help others learn about the collection. There has been a strong push recently to help preserve Indigenous languages in formal and informal settings through social media, language classes, and word-of-mouth. Having had a strong background in research and storytelling, I wanted to contribute to that effort in the best way I knew how, which is to create awareness through education.
What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Library of Congress?
The most interesting fact I’ve learned about the Library of Congress has probably been that it has 173 million items. That sounds like a very basic fact, but after interacting with the collection that number has become very real to me, and I’ve only recently been able to wrap my head around just how large that really is.
What is something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
Most of my coworkers don’t know about my passion for Appalachian folk music. The folk music that comes out of the Appalachian regions is such a fascinating blend of British/Irish/Scottish music and African music because of the populations that inhabit the Appalachian regions. Early recordings of Appalachian folk artists in the 1930’s and 40’s demonstrate such a beautiful storytelling ability. Many of the region’s ballads and hymns have been covered by famous musicians such as Joanna Newsom and Joan Baez. Some of my favorite songs are The Devil’s Nine Questions sung by Texas Gladden and Barbara Allen sung by Hule “Queen” Hines.
As an aside, The Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center also has The Alan Lomax Collection which is a collection of Alan Lomax’s various ethnographic projects. From 1933-1942, Alan Lomax would go on folk song collecting field trips for the Library of Congress, and his work here helped preserve traditional song, music, and dance of the Appalachian region of the southern United States through the recordings he made.