We are happy to share this interview with Merci Silva-Acosta. Merci is serving as a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) intern with the Digital Strategy Directorate in the summer of 2023. In this interview, we learn a bit about Merci’s interests and work with us at the Library.
Hi Merci! It’s great to have you on our team this summer. Could you tell us what you are working on?
I am currently working as a Community Experience Analyst for the Digital Strategy Directorate, performing research and analysis on the meaning of “community” within the Library’s setting and purposes. From there, I am building an outline of the different internal and external communities, in order to improve the engagement of the Library of Congress with certain communities such as minorities and underserved groups. The Library has many resources and services that can be of great advantage to more groups. There are many communities that do not recognize or have an opportunity to get to know their local libraries, let alone the Library of Congress. Digital resources have made it possible to merge the worlds of humanities and technology. A library is way more than just books, and it aims to reach all communities. I am excited to be able to work on this wonderful project and make an impact.
Tell us a bit about your background and journey. What professional or educational experiences led you to apply for this internship?
I had the great opportunity to know about Library of Congress through my academic experience while obtaining my Bachelor’s Degree and doing research in Latin American Studies. In addition, an organization called HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities) provided an information session at my university with opportunities for internships at several institutions, and the Library of Congress was the one that stood out to me from my previous research work. As an immigrant, my educational and professional practices have shown me firsthand how we in underserved and minority communities are constantly facing challenges to connect with resources and organizations. Therefore, my biggest motivation to apply for this internship has been to add perspectives to increase purposeful connection with the Library, and serve as a connector to “discover” more ways to build relationships between more communities and the Library’s digital services. Also, this internship led me to want to further my research abilities at an important institution.
What in your background, coursework, or job experience will be useful for your work on this project?
Three of the skills that I developed working as an eligibility worker for the State of Nevada and as a Spanish interpreter, which I treasure and will be valuable on this project, are adaptability, advocacy and effective communication. These abilities have allowed me to stay organized working in a remote environment and to be flexible and responsive to change. While I am still growing in academia, I have research and analysis skills achieved through my academic coursework that I can apply to this project, and that I can strengthen during this internship.
Is there anything about working on this project so far that you have found surprising or unexpected?
One of the things that has been unexpected so far is the amount of support from the leaders at the Library of Congress Internships (LOCI) program and its organization (shout out to Antonio Parker and Natalie Smith for being wonderful mentors!). Working remotely, I feel beyond grateful to have this opportunity, and seeing that I can count on the other interns and employees of the Library for more information, resources and guidance really makes a world of difference. Our development series meetings showed the varied and intrinsic structure of the Library: everything from Special Collections, the U.S. Copyright office, the Kluge Center, and so much more fascinating content. The organization of these meetings just goes to show the interest of the Library in having interns get to know all the areas and opening up doors of possibilities for career discovery. This part has been surprising in a great way, and has motivated me to explore more within this program.
Tell us a bit about how this work connects with your career goals. Is this experience helping you to further develop or refine your goals and interests?
This work connects closely to my career goals since I aim to become a professor and editor, therefore my research and analysis abilities will be greatly enhanced by working on this project. Building and creating a project based on underserved communities aligns with my interest in Indigenous cultures in Latin America, Feminist Studies and Afro-Latinx communities. From now on, it looks promising to use the Library of Congress as a referent for my future work, and now I can share this experience with many of my classmates going into grad school.
Based on your experience in this internship, are there any things you are going to focus on getting out of your next educational experience? Has this experience shaped your ideas about your future Master’s program?
This internship has come at a perfect time since I will be starting graduate school this August, and it has brought up a new perspective about the different functions and services a library can have within its communities. As a student, I have had a chance to work on my college library in the cataloguing area, and I have spent numerous hours doing my research, reading and writing using library resources. Going into grad school, I am taking this experience to refine my research skills and make new connection ideas to improve the engagement of our college library services with students. I am also looking into getting a certificate for special collections conservation, and hopefully will visit the Library this summer. I did not think it was possible to work for an organization like this before, and I am taking a lot of knowledge that I can apply to my future studies. My project manager, Natalie Smith, even mentioned the idea of making this project an essay, and I will be adding it to my articles for publishing.