This is a guest post by Brandi Marulli, 2022 Librarian in Residence, Preservation Directorate.
Support of the next generation of librarians and leaders is an integral part of the mission of The Library of Congress, with a multitude of people of all ages and backgrounds serving in 80 different programs. The Internship and Fellowship Programs (IFP) office coordinates opportunities for life-long learners to step inside the largest library in the world to discover the National Collection and to work alongside the incredible staff that builds and takes care of the Collection. One of the programs that IFP runs is the “Librarian-in-Residence” program, which will be entering its 6th year this coming June, 2023. In February of 2022, I had the great privilege to sit down with a librarian from the Copyright Office and in our conversation about navigating the library field, she suggested I apply to be a Librarian-in-Residence. I had never heard about this program, but after doing a bit of digging, I was jumping at the opportunity to apply. The IFP describes the program as such: “In support of developing the next generation of librarians and information professionals, the Librarians-in-Residence program will give early-career librarians the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience”. At that time, I was in my second to last semester of my Masters of Library Science program at The Catholic University of America. During my graduate studies, I was gaining fantastic experience as the Special Collections Technician for the Catholic University Archives, but as I approached the end of my graduate studies, I began naturally thinking about what I should do next. Learning of the Librarian-in-Residence program came at the perfect moment and I sent along my application. It was a complete shock when I received the invitation to interview, but I was put completely at ease by the friendliness and generosity that I encountered during my discussion with the Chief of the Preservation Services Division, Adrija Henley, and the Director of Preservation, Jacob Nadal. My shock was amplified when I received the call that I was chosen for the program, that I would start my Residency in September! Throughout the spring and summer months, I completed the last of my coursework and took my Comprehensive Examination all with my Residency in the back of my mind. What projects would I work on? Who would I work with? I was expertly guided by the director of the Librarian-in-Residence program, Donna Sokol, in preparing for my term but there were so many questions that I had about what to expect. The day finally came when I made my way to the Madison Building to start my Residency, and from day one my expectations were exceeded.
If I could sum up my experience at the Library of Congress in one word, it would be “unexpected”. During my tenure as Librarian-in-Residence for the Preservation Directorate, I was able to travel amongst different divisions and sections to assist staff members on various projects, ranging from stack surveys, to minor paper repairs, or quality review of digitized materials. Every day I would come across a new and unexpected interaction and experience that would stretch and challenge me. One experience in particular that pushed me was participating in the Conservation Divisions Atlas Binding Workshop led by Book Conservator Katherine Kelly.
This was a three, full-day workshop that allowed different interns and conservators to gain hands-on experience with various binding techniques involving maps. I have only had limited book binding experience, and I was excited to learn as much as I could. Over the course of three days, we took 16 different types of maps of various sizes and materials, and used assorted techniques to insert the maps into a bound book. Each technique built on the complexity of the last and the participants were taught how to use specialized equipment such as a ultrasonic welder and custom made punching jigs. At the end of the workshop, each participant walked away with a fully covered and bound book with 16 different maps. The workshop was an incredible experience that allowed me to observe up close the work that the Book Conservation team does and the equipment they use to take care of the National Collection, all while learning new bookbinding techniques. This was certainly an experience I was not expecting to gain when I started my tenure as Resident, but I am incredibly grateful. Not only am I grateful for my time in the workshop, but for all of the projects I was able to assist with, and the wonderful staff members I got to work with. The Librarians-in-Residence program is an unparalleled program that provides newly-minted librarians with life changing opportunities to step into the largest library in the world. If you are an early career librarian interested in this program, please visit the webpage for the program! Librarians-in-Residence Program 2023 | Library of Congress (loc.gov)
Oh wow! I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this program and I’m glad I applied for the 2023 program as I always admired the library and will be moving to the area after graduation anyway. Currently waiting to hear back but fingers crossed! The workshop in particular definitely sounds like it would be a worthwhile experience for anyone new to the field of library science. I’d love to read more articles about the program that go into the work experiences it provides.