Library of Congress internship informs MLIS student’s future as curator and creator of multicultural stories
August 24, 2022
School of Informatics and Computing graduate student Khrisma McMurray is already gaining real-world experience with her summer internship at the Library of Congress. McMurray is pursuing a Master’s in Library and Information Science (MLIS) with a specialization in Facilitated Learning and participated in the Junior Fellows Program in the Informal Learning Office.
McMurray learned about this internship through Dr. Tabitha Hardy at the IUPUI Graduate School Office and says the experience has helped her career wise because as a new student in the MLIS program, especially one who came straight from undergraduate, she didn’t have as much work experience as her classmates. “As I learned about librarianship and information science I desired to get a variety of experience within this field. Working at the Library of Congress has helped me learn more through education and exposure to the various ways I can use my MLIS degree to make an impact in my community and country,” she said.
The Informal Learning Office exists to connect kids, teens, and families to the collections and resources of the Library by developing programs, resources, and learning spaces that inspire them to use the Library for their own creative purposes. During McMurray’s internship, she contributed to the content of the new Southwest Corridor, a new 5,700 square foot experiential learning space in the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson Building. The Southwest Corridor will be a user-driven, flexible, and participatory space for intergenerational family groups and school groups, with a focus on ages 9-13. While visitors of all ages will be given the chance to open-explore curated replicas of Library collections, visitors will also have an opportunity to dive deeper by exploring discovery boxes, which will be a core component of the experience. In her role, McMurray developed content for a prototype of two primary source “quest/discovery boxes” based on the Library’s vast collection.
McMurray started grad school in SPEA in the Masters of Public Affairs program but still had the desire to be a librarian and be more connected to the community she wanted to serve. She decided after one semester to switch to the program that she had been interested in all her life.
“My grandmother grew up in a time where libraries were segregated institutions. Even with the Civil Rights Act being passed, there was still discrimination in place that prohibited her from fully taking advantage of libraries for education or information services. This lack of knowledge and usage of the library carried down generations to me, a young black woman who has desired to enter the field of library science since childhood, but whose family carried generational trauma and lack of knowledge of how to support me in that dream,” McMurray said.
Following graduation, McMurray wants to curate collections for minority youth that provide mirrors to their own lives and windows into other cultures they are not allowed to learn in school. “I want to create community-based programming that creates a multigenerational impact for families. As a future librarian, I want to go further than stocking the shelves with a limited number of multicultural stories. I aspire to use my love of literature and desire for representativeness to enter into the publishing industry. I want to publish and promote multicultural stories to help generate the larger supply of multicultural literature needed for future generations to see their skin color reflected in the black and white pages of books across the country,” she said.
She has already published her first children’s book, Precious Love, which is about being in a blended family and dealing with absentee fathers. “As an author, I strive to redefine our definition of family through spotlighting family structures outside of the typical two parent household.”
McMurray offered this advice to others looking for relevant career experience: Don’t be afraid to go for internships that seem outside of your league. Most employers are looking for fresh eyes and perspectives.
About the Junior Fellows Program
The Library of Congress Junior Fellows Program is an annual summer internship program that enables undergraduate and graduate students to experience the integrated analog and digital collections and services of the world’s largest, all-inclusive library. Working under the direction of Library curators and specialists in various divisions, fellows explore digital initiatives and increase access to the institution’s unparalleled collections and resources.