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Image of Kelsey Beeghly
Kelsey Beeghly, 2023-2024 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress, Photo by Jon Flemming

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

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The 2023-2024 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress, Kelsey Beeghly, says farewell with a post on what she has gained from her experience at the Library and how that will inform her future approach to education.

When I began my time at the Library of Congress in August, I was excited to work alongside the amazing team in the Professional Learning and Outreach Initiatives office. I had a lot to learn – from big things (like we have three buildings on Capitol Hill alone), to the fun facts (like thousands of new items are added daily), to the now blatantly obvious – it’s not just books that we collect!

Soon after, I started discovering some things I found extremely interesting in the Library’s collections, like the indigenous Ferris wheel below.

Image of a ferris wheel with people standing and wrapped into their seats
Indian Style Ferris Wheel. Organization of American States, 1961.

I also searched through Chronicling America, the digitized newspaper archive, for any and every event, person, and idea from the history of science that I could think of, which became the subjects of blog posts, articles, and conference presentations.

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Shoes For the Entire Family. Roanoke Rapids herald. March 23, 1944

One highlight of my experience was compiling photographs of scientists and inventors for a Free to Use and Re-use set featuring scientists and inventors. When producing this set, I worked to compile images that both reflected the diversity of scientists and their investigations and that encouraged discussion about the history of science as an endeavor influenced by social conditions and political and financial aims. I had the opportunity to share this set with teachers when presenting at the National Science Teaching Association conference in March and gained valuable perspectives from witnessing their reactions to the set.

One thing that surprised me about my time here was that the Library houses not just an innumerable amount of information related to the history of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), but it also includes a whole division of scientists working to preserve the items and learn more about them through investigation. My favorite project from my time here was getting to work with some of those scientists to produce videos that promote their work for students who might also be interested in pursuing a career that combines a love of science with art or history.

My Library mentor always says, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” My time at the Library has taught me just that, and has unlocked a sense of curiosity and wonder at all of the phenomena that are yet to be discovered in the collections. Developing activities, lessons, and videos while here has been fun and rewarding. It was an honor to represent this institution at many events, conferences, and meetings over the last year. This experience has strengthened my communication abilities and given me more confidence to lead and share my voice.

My time at the Library taught me so much about how federal agencies operate, the resources available to educators, and the rich history held in the items stored here, so many of which are freely accessible on the website from around the world.

Next year I am excited to move forward with my career in education in a new environment. As I start my new life on California’s central coast, I hope to apply the skills I’ve honed during my time here. And whenever I say “the Library” from now on, just know that I’m referring to the Library of Congress.

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  1. Kelsey, thank you for spending this past year with us! Your curiosity, flexibility, and willingness to jump into a wide variety of projects was so appreciated! Thank you for taking ideas and running with them and for helping all of us begin to “know what we didn’t know,” too!

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