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, Maria Rebeca Escamilla.
Describe your background.
I was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and immigrated with my family to central California when I was three. I was raised in Salinas, California and have come to identify myself with its community. Then, I moved to Berkeley, California to complete my undergraduate education. I entered the University of California, Berkeley as a pre-med student but changed majors halfway through. I graduated in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Before graduating, I already knew that I wanted to be a librarian for underrepresented minorities, so I applied to Library Science master’s programs with this intention. In the summer of 2021, I made the journey to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where I will be graduating in 2023 with a master’s in library and information science.
What is your academic/professional history?
While at Berkeley, I grew interested in medieval studies and decided to concentrate on English medieval literature. I have researched medieval Catholicism, the history of the canon and apocryphal bible, and Geoffrey Chaucer’s literature. I have also delved into versification and have done research on Victorian poetry, with a focus on Oscar Wilde’s poetry. In addition to my medieval studies minor, I also obtained a global poverty and practice (GPP) minor. I volunteered for three years with my local elementary school to fulfill the practicum requirement for the GPP minor.
Currently, in my graduate studies, I am looking into cross-language information retrieval methods and technologies to increase information accessibility for minority communities. I will also be doing a digital preservation practicum with the Champaign County Historical Archives this fall 2022. In addition, I will be receiving further support in my librarianship education and career with the American Library Association Spectrum Scholarship.
How would you describe your job to other people?
For my internship projects, I researched Latin American authors and wrote bilingual biographies for the PALABRA Archive. These biographies will then be uploaded to the archive and provide context for the authors and their recordings. For my second project, I worked on a Story Map of five Mexican women authors, which will be uploaded for public access as well. In addition to having researched these five authors and written their biographies, I also delved into the historical literary movements of Mexico and how these women authors influenced Mexico’s literature. I gave a short presentation on my work and how it promotes the library’s goals and objectives when my internship ended.
These projects will enhance the digital experience of users and promote educational resources by the library. Moreover, these projects will disseminate a more diverse perspective of the American experience.
Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
The Library of Congress has one of the largest Hispanic collections, and I am highly interested in learning about more resources available for indigenous communities. Currently, I am researching Pastorelas folk plays and how Mexican indigenous communities transformed these works. It is incredibly hard to find reliable resources and expertise on this topic; however, during my internship, I have been exposed to a wider range of resources and repositories of indigenous and Hispanic information. I wanted to work at the Library of Congress in order to gain more professional experience and to better serve my community.
What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Library of Congress?
I found out that the Library of Congress has a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, one of three copies on vellum in the world. I find this to be highly interesting since I would not typically associate an English renaissance bible with the Library. This also aligns with my interest on the English Renaissance, and I plan to further explore this resource.
What is something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
My co-workers do not know that I enjoy reading science fiction and horror books. I have recently been invested in the Lovecraftian, cosmic horror, subgenre and constantly looking for the next book to read.