An unexpected journey

I am through the first month of my internship at Burke, but time has passed so fast that it sometimes feels like I have just arrived. I still have a lot to learn, and the thrill of being in an unknown city is still there!

My Library School (ENSSIB, France) gives us the opportunity to do our final internship in foreign libraries. While some students prefer to stay in France, going away seemed a really good way to learn more, both personally and professionally – developing new skills, discovering another country. That’s why I applied at Columbia University Libraries, hoping to get the chance to work on a digitization project.

A few months later, I found myself standing , a bit jet lagged, in front of a huge Neo Gothic tower covered in snow, and wondering if Hogwarts had moved its location from Scotland to Manhattan.

I didn’t expect to be offered a place in a Theology Library. Still, it made sense to me: my master’s thesis was, after all, about church history. It also seemed like a chance to discover a view of religion and spirituality very different from what I had experienced in France. What was more unexpected was the archival nature of my work. But while I never had the opportunity to work in an archive, it was still a familiar territory: during my bachelor in History, my teachers always insisted on the importance of documents and sources. During my master's, I had some courses about archives– and I experienced several times archives as a reader. What got me into Library Science in the first place was my desire to be the link between past documents and present readers, which is why I did several internships in libraries with rare book and manuscript collections. For all these reasons, I am glad to be able to get a first-hand experience in archives, on a project that will help me developing skills that are useful in libraries as well.

In this perspective, being at a place like Burke makes sense: it is familiar in many ways, but also completely new. I am learning a lot working with Ruth and I really enjoy my work with the Harrison Elliot papers, which I will tell more about in another note.

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