I am excited to start my internship at The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary and begin what looks to be an exciting, interesting, and educational journey into the world of archives and librarianship. After a whirlwind few weeks of applying and interviewing for several internships, I finally decided the Burke Library as the best fit, given its world-renowned reputation and its affiliation with Columbia University. Furthermore, I accepted the position because it provides a hands-on approach from a professional archivist. This approach will enable me to apply what I’ve learned in the past several semesters at the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. It is both exciting and somewhat intimidating to finally begin my internship after learning about librarianship and archives!
From the moment I stepped into this beautiful Gothic building and interviewed with Brigette, the Project Archivist, I realized that this library is the place for me to delve into the archival discipline that I have wanted to be involved with since I can remember. The Burke Library Archives was recently awarded a three-year grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to arrange, describe, and provide access to the Union Theological Seminary (UTS) Archive. The UTS Archive contains approximately 141 collections of papers from faculty members and students, among others, associated with UTS, one of the oldest and most important theological schools in the country. I am looking forward to working under the supervision of Brigette to process collections of UTS Faculty members, as she is eager to teach me; I truly appreciate her guidance and patient approach. My first day at the archive included a walking tour of the library, in which Brigette showed me the various stacks and office space that house the records. I especially enjoyed going up the spiral staircase in the original reference room of the Missionary Research Library, and admired the wonderful architecture of the grand reading area. I was introduced to some of the staff at the Library and look forward to assisting them in any way, and learning from them over the course of the semester. Although it was a lot of information to take in at once, I am sure that with time everything will fall into place.
Prior to my first day I was given some readings, and among these was a very interesting article, The World Missionaries Made, which introduced me to the role and legacy that missionaries have played and left over the past two centuries. According to the article, missionaries fostered literacy in economically depressed countries in Asia and Africa, as well as assisted the colonized people in many other ways that I was not aware of. In working on the papers over the next few months, I look forward to learning about the role that faculty members have played at UTS, and in the world of theology as a whole. I am certain that in bringing my enthusiasm and skills to the internship, I will in turn gain a tremendous amount from the internship and the Burke Library staff.