What To Do With An English Major: Library of Congress Internship

Emily SpanglerEmily Spangler
Associate Student Representative, Eastern Region, 2015-2016
Alpha Gamma Kappa Chapter
Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, WV

People always assume I, as an English major, want to teach, and they always are so unapologetically wrong. An English major offers countless paths to travel, and I chose the path to library science.

Reading has been my passion since early childhood, so pursuing library science only made sense to me as a teenager, and it still does now. I only ever wanted to protect books and indulge in the knowledge they offered, which essentially is what some librarians do every day. Imagine my elation when I found out I received a paid summer fellowship at any prospective librarian’s dream institution: The Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

Working for the federal government, and especially the nation’s library, I realized early on how critically important was the work I was doing there. I think I realized this not as a college student, or a reader, or even a federal employee. I only initially understood the impact of my time at the Library of Congress as an English major.


Meeting With the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Bilington

I feel as if only English majors, in our own way, truly can appreciate the new and old. We respect Shakespeare, and cherish Harry Potter. It’s a dynamic unique to English majors, and I was grateful for it more than ever within the context of my fellowship. For 10 weeks, I was a first-time mother, and over 3,700 Portuguese Pamphlets were my children. These pamphlets originally were in the Rare Books Division, but were transferred to the division I was working under—Collections, Access, Loan, and Management—because many of these pamphlets originally belonged in a different collection.

My entire purpose was trying to locate items within the Portuguese Pamphlets that belonged to the Carvalho Monteiro Collection, a collection of over 30,000 items the Library of Congress acquired in the 1920s. I went through every single pamphlet, checking for a stamp indicating it was part of the Carvalho collection. I entered the titles, years, reference numbers, and other information into two databases I created. I sifted through 75 reels of microfilm, looking at pamphlets that weren’t physically present. I individually photographed each pamphlet, and then rehoused them. Rehousing is relocating an item from its previous enclosure to a new, more adequate enclosure. While extremely technical, the job taught me that to care about something old is to care about something new.

The Junior Fellows class of 2015 closes their 10-week inernship program with a ceremony, August 5, 2015. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Receiving the Fellowship Certificate of Completion

By cataloging, photographing, and rehousing these beautiful pamphlets (the oldest are from 1572, while the newest are from 1920), I managed to come to terms with the fact I was helping future researchers, because I was making these items more accessible. I was the one behind the scenes, making the magic happen, and that’s all it took for me to confirm pursuing library science as an English major was the best choice I ever made.

What do you (plan to) do with your English major?

Bookstores and Coffee Shops: An English Major Finds Home

Sara StammerSara Stammer
Student Representative, Eastern Region, 2015-2016
Alpha Epsilon Alpha Chapter
The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ

Does a better combination exist for English majors than local bookstores and good coffee? Both are readily available in Minneapolis, and I have traveled the city high and low to bring to you their definitive ranking before your arrival at the convention in March!


After setting out on the light rail toward St. Paul with one destination in mind, Common Good Books, a group of Student Leaders and I also stumbled upon Midway Books. Depending on what you are looking for, both of these bookstores have something to offer.

Common Good Books#1 Common Good Books
If you have some downtime at convention you must make the trek out to Common Good Books. The single-floor, one-room bookshop can be reached in 50 minutes by taking the light rail and then a public bus (you can use your light rail ticket for the bus). The trip is well worth your time, as you can easily spend another hour happily browsing the shelves. Possessing a modern New York City bookstore feel, this little shop boasts a collection of signed books for sale across a wide and diverse variety of genres. Louise Penny’s The Nature of the Beast has found its place among my collection of other signed books!

Minneapolis Bookstore--Sara Stammer Midway#2 Midway Books
If one bookstore is not enough to convince you to make the trip, consider stopping by Midway Books on your way back. Located next to the light rail platform, Midway Books is an adventure waiting to be explored that will not require additional transportation on your part. This multi-floor bookstore has a rare book and magazine section in addition to its extensive used book options. I could not leave Midway Books without acquiring a first edition copy of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan of the Apes in its original box!


Coffee Shops

Before heading out to find these two bookstore treasures or between sessions at the convention, grab a cup of coffee from one of Minneapolis’ best coffee shops!

Misfit Coffee#1 Misfit Coffee Co.
Drink: 12oz. Maple Bourbon
Price: $5.00 (tax included)
Pack your mittens and scarf, and rally the troops. #1 will be the hardest place to find. Misfit Coffee Co. is a food truck dedicated to coffee. It is a coffee lover’s dream on wheels. While they have your typical coffee and latte favorites, this truck provides seasonal specialties they have crafted themselves. After visiting the Guthrie Theater, the truck was out front. I challenge you, hit the streets, see the sights, and find Misfit Coffee Co., you will not regret it!


Starbucks#2 Hyatt Regency’s Marketplace
Drink: 20oz. Carmel Macchiato/Pumpkin Spice Latte
Price: $5.05 (tax included)
I know, Starbucks is everywhere, but the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis‘ coffee shop wins 2nd place for a few reasons. First, you cannot beat the convenience of having well made coffee and friendly service with your morning cup in the hotel. Second, it is still good coffee! If it is cold or you are in a time pinch to get somewhere during the convention day, do not worry, stop by the Marketplace.


Caribou Coffee#3 Caribou Coffee
Drink: 20oz. Pumpkin Hot Flip
Price: $5.31 (tax included)
Caribou Coffee is a popular chain throughout Minneapolis. Walking past the door of the location on the Nicollet Mall had me dreaming about this coffee until I finally got my cup. There are free standing stores as well as locations within the skyway. If you are like me and are open to trying new things (and do not have one on the East coast) go for it.


Dunn Brothers#4 Dunn Bros. Coffee
Drink: Medium Pumpkin Pie Nirvana
Price: $5.08 (tax included)
Do not let the ranking fool you, #4 is still a respectable option. If you plan on exploring the Skyway starting at the Hyatt and make your way through the Convention Center, stop at Dunn Bros. to pick up a coffee for the journey. They also have an extensive gluten free fresh-baked good selection as well. The gluten free cookie was soft and moist!

What are your favorite bookstores and coffee shops? Comment below!

An Eye-Opening and Goal-Affirming Internship: My Time with Penn Press

Penn Press--Elizabeth Hallgren headLiz Hallgren
2015 Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend Recipient
Alpha Ro Theta Chapter
Macalester College, St. Paul, MN

This summer I had the opportunity to intern with Penn Press, the University of Pennsylvania’s scholarly publishing company. I always have considered working in scholarly publishing, so for me, this internship was a dream come true. However, this internship would have been just that—a dream—if not for the help of Sigma Tau Delta. I commuted from Baltimore to Philadelphia (about three hours door-to-door!) in order to participate in this internship, a trip that would not have been possible without the Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend. I cannot thank Sigma Tau Delta enough for supporting my internship experience, as it proved a pivotal step in my career path. My time with Penn Press allowed me to inform my career goals and gain an inside look at the publishing world.

Penn Press--Elizabeth Hallgren 2.1During my time at Penn Press I worked in the Journals and Acquisitions Departments, participated in press meetings, and took part in informational seminars. Because the program was comprehensive, allowing me to work professionally while also acting as a student of publishing, I developed an enlightened perspective on my career goals and on this field. Among other lessons, Penn Press taught me the important differences between scholarly and trade publishing, and the ways in which scholarly publishing is a multi-dimensional field.

While working in the Journals and Acquisitions Departments I was reminded daily that the publishing world is deep with each of its parts working to reach similar, but distinct, goals. Both departments reinforced that scholarly publishing is a field of its own, unique from trade publishing. My previous view of publishing was amorphous, ignoring the nuances between trade and scholarly publishing. However, at Penn Press I realized scholarly publishing departs from trade publishing in its emphasis not on sales, but on meaningful contributing to scholarly conversations. Each day Penn Press members worked tirelessly to promote and champion original, intellectual thought, showing me scholarly publishing is mission-oriented, requiring a passion for academia. The goal-oriented environment at Penn Press was inspiring, confirming my desire to work in a field that values intellectual property and the accessibility of ideas.

Penn Press--Elizabeth Hallgren 6Penn Press not only showed me scholarly publishing is a field with a focused mission, but also that this field is multifaceted. Before this internship I focused on the editorial side of publishing without realizing I was ignoring the multitudes of other people and tasks involved in bringing a book to fruition. Because Penn Press had a transparent and comprehensive internship program I was able to gain access to the sides of publishing I had never experienced before, learning for the first time about the intricacies of marketing, production, and business management in publishing. Seeing each of these different departments utilize unique skills while working together was informative, revealing that scholarly publishing provides an option for a wide array of learners and workers. Because of Penn Press my perspective on publishing as both a field and a career is expanded, and my goals affirmed.

Penn Press--Elizabeth Hallgren 4Requiring an avid interest in a spectrum of subjects, and combining unique skill sets, scholarly publishing provides a career opportunity that encourages one to learn constantly while calling upon an array of strengths. Seeing how scholarly publishing allows one to be both a professional and a student at the same time was encouraging to me, as someone with a passion for both publishing and academia. This internship allowed me to determine that scholarly publishing is a fulfilling career option, and thanks to Penn Press and to Sigma Tau Delta, I can pursue my goals confidently!

When have you had a goal-affirming experience regarding your desired career path?

 Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend

Application Period: February 1 – March 21
Sigma Tau Delta offers funding for current undergraduate and graduate student members accepting non- or low-paying summer internships. The Summer Internship Stipend is a competitive program providing a limited number of stipends of up to $1,500 each.

The internship must involve working for an “organization” while being directed by a supervisor/mentor within that organization, and the internship’s duties must be consistent with the applicant’s level of education, area of study, and career goals. Financial need will be taken into consideration. Applicants are responsible for obtaining and providing verification of the internship. Decisions will be made by May 2.