CCDI Junior Fellow Spotlight: Darshni Patel

The Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI) is extremely pleased to introduce to you our CCDI Junior Fellow, Darshni Patel. The Junior Fellows Program at the Library of Congress has been in existence since 1991, and this year, CCDI funds two participants in the 10-week program.  CCDI Junior Fellows will work remotely to develop digital approaches, tools, and connections for Library of Congress digital content.

Describe your background.

I am a proud New Jersey native.  In 2019, I moved to Fairfax, Virginia to attend George Mason University where I am a 19-year-old rising senior. I plan on graduating this winter with an undergraduate degree in government and international politics with a minor in data analysis and computation.

Darshni Patel

What is your academic/professional history?

My professional background is primarily in local government, though I have some research experience in South Asian relations. Throughout undergrad I have held multiple jobs such as congressional internships, data analyst positions, and a job with the American Library Association (ALA).

How would you describe your internship project to other people?

I am working on collecting and compiling interviews from a diverse set of organizations that preserve ethnic and racial heritage materials to (1) see how the library materials could be more accessible to them and (2) try to find collections materials that they would find useful. Ultimately the goal would be to contrast my findings with my colleague Joshua Ortiz Baco’s project to offer recommendations to the emerging CCDI group.

Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress and CCDI specifically?

I have wanted to work for the Library since the conclusion of my internship with the ALA. During that internship I had a chance to present my project to some ALA board members as well as to Library staff. These Library staff members gave me information on the different internship opportunities. Initially, I was fascinated with different projects at the American Folklife Center and applied there in 2020 but later withdrew my application due to COVID-19 related issues. I applied to CCDI due to its perfect alignment with the project I did for ALA which documents and archives pieces of historical records from an incoming generation of immigrants who now reside in New Jersey. In doing so, I also spearheaded the historical society’s archive and digitization of their materials. As a culmination of my project, I held an event to discuss and celebrate the changing heritage and history of Piscataway. In addition, to the research that resulted from the project, I received a grant that would fund the continuation of my project. CCDI’s goals share many of the core values and goals of my ALA project.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Library of Congress?

The most interesting thing I have learned about the Library is that it has expansive non-English collections and overseas offices in many countries.

What is something most of your co-workers don’t know about you?

Something my coworkers would never guess about me is that I applied and was accepted to several competitive art schools. I do portraiture and photography recreationally as well as occasional freelancing.

Get involved! Please send us your ideas for organizations and projects that we can learn from to [email protected]

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