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Summer 2022 marked the first cohort of the Transforming the Future of Libraries & Archives Internship Program. With great excitement and anticipation, we welcomed six undergraduate students to the Library in June for a whirlwind 10-week experience to explore career and education options, develop skills and experience, connect with professionals, and reflect on possibilities within LAM institutions. Each of the interns worked on a specific project with their supervisor, providing work experience and skill development in their area of interest, and participated in cohort learning activities. Guest speakers Noah Scalin and J. Dontrese Brown provided examples of innovative ways to engage with history within their communities. We toured the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site to better understand how public history can connect with preservation and outreach. Library staff members provided information about their roles as well as their career paths as potential examples. 

Together, we tried to answer the question of not just what libraries and archives are today, but what might they be in the future. How can each of us contribute to the future vision of libraries and archives from our different perspectives and disciplines? Read on to learn more about each of their perspectives and accomplishments this summer. It’s been a blast sharing our knowledge and exploring these possibilities with the very first group of Transforming the Future of Libraries & Archives interns!

Click each intern’s image to learn more about their exciting projects!

Zillia Dollinger

Special Collections - Private Papers

Over the summer, I worked on processing one of the Library of Virginia’s collections as the Manuscripts Intern. The collection was on the National Ideal Benefit Society, Incorporated (NIBS), an African American fraternal organization that started here in Richmond, VA. The Library has records that cover NIBS from its start in 1912 to 1995. Now, this makes the collection gigantic, and I only got through four of the 50 boxes. A wide array of documents was still unprocessed, from one version of their constitution written in 1956, to a tiny check receipt from 1972. Those two documents were stored in the same box making the larger collection boxes a jumbled mess. Therefore, my job as the Manuscripts Intern was to sort through the boxes and process the collection. Creating an easily searchable guide for later use by the public and researchers. A worthwhile endeavor as members of NIBS were not allowed to publish books about the Society. I could barely find a lick of information about them when doing research.

I learned more about the background of the founder, A. W. Holmes, through his work with a different fraternal organization than his own. Thus, I learned the most about NIBS directly from the records they kept. Holmes and the Supreme Lodge, the governing body of NIBS, built an organization that stood for “Friendship, Love, and Peace.” The motto built an unshakable brotherhood that bound members together in support of their community. Also, that was the complimentary closing signed on all their correspondence. Their solid foundation allowed this Society to provide financial support to its members mostly through sick pay and death claims, a sum of money paid to a beneficiary at the passing of a member.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Library of Virginia. Working through the collection was like unraveling a mystery. I plan to continue working on the collection as a volunteer for the Library and keep the process going to make such a large collection available. Through this internship, I was able to learn the methods that go into organizing and preparing a project like this. We even got to have regular conversations with the Library’s staff to learn about their work and the career paths they took to be where they are today. We even learned from guest speakers about projects that happen around the city and local history. One of my favorites was the tour of Maggie Walker’s House. Many of these events helped light a greater passion for library and information work that I hope to seek out to the end.

Cruz Galán

Special Collections - Visual Studies

As the Visual Studies intern of the program, I worked under the supervision of Dale Neighbors on the Freeman-Gandy Project. Louis Hyme Freeman Jr. was a local Black freelance photographer who lived in the Jackson Ward, and his work documented subjects of all kinds, weddings, school photos, church events, funerals, and even Christmas parties. The Freeman collection has over 20,000 negatives, with the photos pertaining to the John M. Gandy School (Hanover County’s only Black high school at the time) comprises around 2,000 of them. Our task was to try to identify the photographs to the best of our ability: who was in them, where they were taken, as well as when. To do this we would collaborate with the Hanover County Black Heritage Society, and in return I would assist them in cataloging their own collection.

I feel like I did a little bit of everything this summer, because while on the surface that task sounds very simple, in reality there were many different parts to it. We had to first find the negatives pertaining to the school that were not yet accounted for. Then all the negatives had to be carefully, individually rehoused and catalogued. We had to decide on a target range of years to focus on for the first stage of the project, because it was too large. I spent a whole week with HCBHS members Carolyn Hemphill, Mary R. Waddy, Saundra Watlins, and Sue Randolph Nelson, all of us working as a team to identify photos using their J. M. Gandy yearbooks, their memories, and even their friends’ memories. Once that was done, we needed to select images for making large prints of to display for two exhibits: one at the library, and a traveling one in Ashland, where we would crowd source for further information on the photos. All those images needed to be framed and hanged, given descriptive labels, and the exhibits needed an informational card detailing what they were all about. We also intended to crowd source online for information as well, so we required a website that was easy to access and leave feedback on. And finally, all this new information we gathered had to now be catalogued as well!

All of these things we did, and to my surprise, a lot of the decision making and creation of the exhibit was handed to me. It was my first internship, so I was expecting to be in a more subordinate role, but Dale treated me as an equal partner who was simply new, both the field and to the facility. Every step of the way he would guide me on what needed to be done and assist me in collaborating with various departments when needed, and his colleagues Dana and Bruce helped me with the same consideration. It was a bit daunting at first, I admit, but it also helped me learn so much, about the work and how one single project has many hands in the making. Not just between us and the staff at the library, but also the members of the HCBHS, and every single person who volunteers to help in the crowdsourcing element of this project. It is something that will move well beyond me and my time here, and it is a pleasant feeling to have helped bring attention to this piece of history and to help the voices behind it be heard. It has been a wonderful experience, and I have loved every moment of it.

Gigi Gibbs

Information Security and Risk

Over the summer, I interned as the I.T. Intern, under the direct supervision of Jessica Beavers. I had the chance to learn about security awareness (how to prevent social engineering attacks), how the library protects its collections, and why auditing is a necessary requirement in ensuring that the library is compliant with up-to-date security standards. Whilst being an intern, I was also able to conduct research and learn about the gender and racial disparities within the information technology industry.

A tech article, written on references these disparities, with the author writing, “Women, and especially women of color, mostly feel invisible at work. Studies have shown that managers are quicker to forget the achievements and statements of black women than they are to forget those of white men or women. An easy way to show praise and bring unnoticed work to light is to send out frequent emails or internal messages to your group highlighting ideas and projects brought about by women.” As a side note, I also think it is imperative for tech companies to increase their presence at career fairs at HBCUs or historically black colleges and universities. There are only 10 HBCUs recognized as being in the top 100 computer science programs; I believe that there should be more federal and private funding put into HBCUs to help build computer science programs at colleges where it is lacking, this in return will increase more presence of Black graduate students in tech companies.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Beavers who works for the Library and Bertina Gaines who works for VITA; both are women of color who work within the information technology industry and agreed that there needs to be more diversity within the field. My internship not only taught me about the advancement of technology within a technical space but also a social one as well. We do not need more people who fit the normal description of male and white; but people who add a sense of culture and awareness, to create diversity and inclusion. I do feel that the Library of Virginia is far ahead in this regard, and with hope, the world can follow in its footsteps.

Atticus Johnson

Digital Initiatives and Web Presence

M y passion as an activist has always come from educating people. Through this internship with the library, I had the opportunity to reach one of my largest audiences. I spoke with some very energetic community members as we reflect and look towards the future. The staff at LVA is filled with extremely knowledgeable people. When not working, I tried to engage as many people as possible in the hallways just to find out more about how the library functioned.

My project focused heavily on looking backwards to find out how we can build a better future. There are so many people in Virginia who are using their expertise to help develop that future. It was such a great experience to conduct my interviews and hear what’s important to people. This was also my first time working with archival material. Working with such delicate pieces of newspaper had me moving slower than I have in years. It was interesting to see how the news covered the development of the 1971 Constitution of Virginia. I look forward to seeing how my project is pushed further to include more collection pieces.

In addition to conducting interviews with community leaders related to the Virginia Constitution, Atticus coded a website that includes a timeline of events leading up to the 1971 Constitution, images of archival documents from the LVA collections, a video playlist of the interviews, as well as the interview questions to continue the conversation.

Lizeth Ramirez

Education and Outreach

T he main question I wanted to answer during my time as a Public History intern at the Library of Virginia was understanding what public history is. I also wanted to know the importance and relevance of public history. After 10 weeks, I can say that public history is the way “scholars” can disseminate little-known information to a community, which can be broadly defined. Public historians have a duty to meet the needs of community members, and in my opinion, act as a liaison for community members to reach their goals. Working on the timeline for Jackson Ward showed me how important it is to remind people of the history of activism and how it continues to this day. I think that this next academic year I will create a walkable exhibit that will act as a walkable timeline. My goal is to make the exhibit extremely interactive so that visitors can be receptive to the information.

As a rising senior, my future is still uncertain. I know I would like to work after I graduate from UR for 1-2 years, and because of my experience at LVA, I am considering working at a state library or archive or a museum before deciding to go to law school or not. Depending on my experience there, I may or may not decide to get a masters in library science. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at LVA and feel very prepared to apply to spring and summer internships at libraries, archives, and museums this upcoming fall.

Gloria Rivera

Library of Virginia Foundation

I greatly enjoyed my summer here at LVA, and the learning opportunities that came with it. The weekly discussions and speakers gave me a lot to reflect on, and a better understanding of what I may want to do in the future. I had fun drafting designs and questions for the fall foundation appeal email, as well as working with others for input. I appreciated the feedback and teamwork in the process, as well as in other tasks. Researching organizations, such as their average grant amounts and primary contact information, helped me better understand how foundations acquire funding. I also believe tasks such as filing and updating information improved my organizational skills.

The Transforming the Future of Libraries and Archives Internship Program is supported by EBSCO, the Universal Leaf Foundation, and generous donations made to the Library of Virginia Foundation.

Sonya Coleman

Digital Engagement Coordinator

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