Monday, July 2, 2012

Interview with Library of Congress Librarian, and Drexel student, Amber

Our blog interview this week is with a current iSchool student, Amber. Amber works at the Library of Congress in the Library's Newspapers and Current Periodicals Reading Room as a reference librarian, and is working on her Post-Master's Specialist certificate in Archival Studies. 

What are your primary responsibilities in your current position? 

Some of my primary responsibilities include providing reference assistance to both on-site and off-site Library patrons in the Library's Newspaper and Current Periodicals Reading Room. On a day to day basis, I answer reference inquiries that come to us via Ask-A-Librarian, telephone, or traditional correspondence. I also create online guides to using the Library's freely available Chronicling America newspaper database. My favorite ones that I have done so far are on the Rise of the Flapper in the early 1920's, the Bachelor Maids, and the Gibson Girl.

I have also helped develop an orientation session to the reading room for researchers and regularly volunteer at the Library's annual National Book Festival, held in September. I have had the opportunity to demonstrate the Chronicling America database at several American Library Association meetings held bi-annually. In addition, I maintain a few of the reading room's special periodical collections, including Professional Library Literature and the Library's Human Sexuality Collection. I serve on a few cross-divisional committees within the Library and am currently working on archiving candidates' websites for the 2012 Election.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

What I love most about my job is connecting users to our collections. The Library of Congress is open to the public and is free for all to use. Anyone (whether you are an international user, student, historian, genealogist, etc.) can simply use of on-site reading rooms to gain access to materials or virtually through our digitized collections online. We hold open houses twice a year in the Library's Main Reading Room but we are open to those holding reader registration cards most days of the year. And anyone 16 and older can get a card! (I know I'm beginning to sound like a public service announcement, but I'm really trying to make the point that we would love to have you visit us and ask us questions about our collections- it's what we're here for!)

What are you studying at Drexel, and why did you decide to pursue a Post-Master's degree?

At present, I'm enrolled in Drexel University's online Post-Master's Specialist Program in Archival Studies. Last week, I just started the Archival Appraisal course. It's a new challenge for me and I'm grateful that I have mentors here in the Library to assist me with better understanding the concepts of Archives. I love it so far but I only wish I had realized my interest in this area sooner!

Any tips for current students?

Some of the best advice ever given to me when I was a student in library school was: "be kind and work hard." I know it's simple advice and I hear it quite often but it's for some reason always stayed with me. A tip I always pass along to students is to get volunteer experience with any type of library (special, academic, institutional, etc.). Or, get involved with student chapters of library associations. Volunteering at the Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh was a great way to get hands on experience in working with unique collections and learn more about the profession.

Interested in becoming more involved in Drexel's student chapters of ALA or SLA? Sign up to join our listservs or email us directly!

SCALA's home page, or email us at
DUSLA's home page, or email them at

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