This is a guest post by Camille Salas, a Senior Digital Collections Specialist in the Digital Content Management Section in Library Services.
Staff of the Library’s Digital Content Management Section hosted nine participants in an Association of Research Libraries (ARL) initiative this summer, arranging presentations and tours throughout the institution.
The ARL Fellowship for Digital and Inclusive Excellence, now in its second year, seeks to diversify the library and archives workforce through yearlong paid fellowships for undergraduates from historically underrepresented groups. The fellowships include mentorship and professional development opportunities and introduce the students to the work and culture of contemporary research libraries and archives. The Library of Congress is an ARL member. The ARL Fellowship for Digital and Inclusive Excellence is funded, in part, by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and ARL member institutions.
“A site visit to a federal library is a unique opportunity for the students to see the breadth of work being done at institutions like the Library of Congress, as well as the range of employment opportunities,” said Mark A. Puente, director of diversity and leadership programs for ARL. He accompanied the students on their visit to the Library.
The June 6 program focused on digital stewardship — the care and management of digital information resources over their lifecycle, including creation, collection, preservation, access and use — and staff who engage with digital content at the Library shared their expertise with the students.
Alda Migoni of the American Folklife Center (AFC) discussed the acquisition of born-digital content and descriptive metadata, while Guha Shankar, also of the AFC, talked about the Ancestral Voices Collection, which features digitized audio of the Passamaquoddy Tribe of Maine recorded in 1890. Catalina Gomez of the Hispanic Division described the history of the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape; Kristi Conkle of the Collection Development Office provided an overview of the Library’s digital collecting plan and web archiving; Chase Dooley and Grace Thomas of the Web Archiving Team described how web content is captured and made available to the public; and Elaine Kamlley of the Office of the Chief Information Officer presented the “By the People” crowdsourcing transcription project.
The program also included a visit to the Manuscript Division, where Kathleen O’Neill, a senior archives specialist, shared her experience processing digital collections and discussed the challenges of processing born-digital content and recovering digital content from obsolete storage media. The students also viewed some of the manuscript materials transcribed by “By the People” volunteers, such as a diary of Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross.
While at the Library, the students also toured the Jefferson Building and learned about career paths to librarianship and potential internship opportunities at the Library. Said ARL fellow Kaitlin Srader, “Visiting the LOC was a great experience of furthering my knowledge and pursuit of libraries, especially seeing how digital technology is growing in these institutions. I am really now considering an MLS after I graduate!”
ARL fellow Jeremiah Azurin summed up the day: “Everyone should have a chance to visit the Library of Congress, if not for the spectacular architecture, long history, and exciting exhibits, then for the talent managing it. There was certainly a great deal about the research and diversity within its walls that I didn’t know about previously so I’m extremely grateful for the staff members that spent their day sharing their work and advocacies with us.” The Digital Content Management section was thrilled to host this cohort of ARL fellows for the day, and we look forward to seeing their future contributions.