We regularly feature the interns whose hard work positively impacts the Library. Today’s interview is with a 2022 Spring participant in the Library of Congress Internship (LOCI) program, Lashanah Thomas-Walker.Describe Your Background.
I was born in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, to a family who recognized how education could transform a person’s life. My mother moved my sister and me to the continental U.S. for a better future at an early age. Although I encountered many obstacles because of how I looked and sounded, I used that as motivation to always persevere. That motivation helped me and my sister become the first two people in our family to graduate college.
What is your academic/professional history?
I graduated from Georgia State University in 2018 with dual bachelor’s degrees in history and African American studies. I then obtained my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from The George Washington University. While in school, I dedicated my research to focus on race, gender, class, identity development, equity, and access to opportunity. I will be continuing my research as I return to Georgia State this fall to pursue my Ph.D. in sociology. Throughout my time as a student, I have had several roles in education. I was formerly a substitute teacher for DC Public Charter Schools, academic tutor for foster youth in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, culinary instructor for children, and academic coach for DC Public Schools. More recently, I started my own education company, Liberation Tree.
How would you describe your Library job (or project) to other people?
I interned as a librarian for the U.S. ISSN Center. This division assigns International Standard Serial Numbers to continuing publications like journals, magazines, and newspapers published in the U.S. It is a part of the international ISSN Network, an organization composed of ninety-three other centers across the globe. My primary role as an intern was to prepare research reports about the effects of ISSNs, the rise of predatory journals, and the risk they pose to legitimate journals from countries with less-developed or complex publishing practices. Every day was different. Some days, I prepared qualitative data by observing ISSN procedures, interviewing representatives from international organizations, transcribing those interviews, and analyzing the findings. On other days, I attended seminars, performed routine exercises, and read through articles and bibliographic databases to generate material.
Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
It is one of the largest cultural institutions in the United States. I have always wanted to work for the Library of Congress for this reason. As both a historian and a writer, to say that working at the Library of Congress would be a great opportunity is an understatement. Once the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance. The position I chose to apply for aligned with my commitment to addressing issues of inequity and providing solutions as a researcher. I knew that it would be a competitive applicant pool, but I also knew that it would be worth it and that I was qualified and ready. I saw it as an opportunity to learn and grow and contribute to something beyond myself.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Library of Congress?
It’s definitely not your average library. There are over five million maps located in the Madison Building, including maps made into fashion statements. The Copyright Office won’t register artwork created by an animal, no matter how great it came out. As a member of the general public, I have the ability to impact the Library’s digital collections by participating in one of their many “experiments” with LC Labs. To me, the most interesting fact about the Library of Congress is its ability to have something for everyone. It’s an entity that was created for the purpose of storing and sharing information and continues to live up to its purpose in a modern era.
What is something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
Throughout the many “fun facts about me” moments I had throughout my internship, I managed to tell my co-workers many things about me. However, one thing that most don’t know about me is that I am the newsletter editor the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund, a non-profit based in Southwest DC. Volunteering for the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund for the past two years has been one of the most rewarding experiences. It has enabled me to learn so much about oncology, health disparities and inequities, and ultimately how to care for myself and others.