This is a guest post by Brandon Mack, Preservation Services Division Intern
The Library of Congress is magical. That is the best way I can explain my experience. The scope, the people, and the history have all blown my mind at every step of my internship. It also helps that as an intern for the Preservation Services Division I get to see so much of the Library that many can only dream of.
A lot of my tasks gave me a great peek at the scope of the Library. One of my tasks was to help sort and manage microfilm. It blew my mind that each film contained an entire book. I had seen what felt like hundreds to thousands of microfilm just on my first day.
Another task gave me the great pleasure of seeing and even operating a machine called the BC100. This machine took extensive photos of brittle books and newspapers for archival purposes. It is kind of wild that something I did will permanently be a part of the Library’s collection.
One of the last of my tasks was with book binding. When soft cover books new and old come to the Library they can deteriorate pretty fast. To better preserve their longevity all the books are given a new hardcover binding. I had to go through hundreds of books and sort them by binding type and size. It was fun seeing so many new and interesting books. I even saw a lot of books I am familiar with. The amount of graphic novels was especially staggering but I got a lot of new series I want to check out.
Overall these tasks helped broaden my understanding of what a library really could be. I had seen the public part of the Library before the internship but even that had not begun to prepare me for what I would be doing. In a library full of surprises, another surprise was the people who worked there.
When I first got to the Library I didn’t know what to expect. It really threw me for a loop how nice everyone was. Everyone has gone out of their way to be kind and make me feel really comfortable. I was walking on eggshells my first week here. It was like I had walked onto the set of Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers. It felt too perfect to be real. I am glad I was proven wrong. It really feels like I joined a family.
A great benefit of joining that family is all the stories. Whenever there is a chance I am always learning something new. It feels like even the air here exudes history. Some of them were more obvious, like the vault. The vault being where a lot of the books and microfilm were stored. A literal library within a library. Some were subtle like nondescript microfilms on a shelf containing presidential records and Frederick Douglass’ letters. The books to the walls to the very chairs are dripping with stories. It really felt like I needed to wear gloves just to enter the building.
Overall, I feel lucky to be here. My time here is truly unforgettable. The scope, the people, and the history are still blowing me away. I really enjoyed my internship at the Library. To me it was akin to magic.