Two Towson students and two recent grads could not escape the books this summer. Instead, they spent the past three months surrounded by 16 million of them!
Erin Kelly ’15, Evan Neuwirth ’15 and graduate student Mike Schoelen represented TU as interns at the Library of Congress, while TU senior Katje Lattik participated in the Library’s Junior Fellowship program.
Kelly, Neuwirth and Schoelen were part of a team working on the Geographic Hotspot Dynamic Indexing Project, which uses computer-based technologies called geography information systems (GIS) to create interactive digital representations of some of the library’s maps.
“It’s not just a picture from a helicopter or plane; it’s the land coverage, how much area is a certain land type, and how it has changed over time,” Schoelen explained. “It’s all these things that you want to be able to analyze.”
The interns focused on the Library’s collection of “hotspot” maps – which includes over two million maps of places like Syria, Yemen and Iran.
The interns tackled the project in teams of four, which also included Amanda Brioche, a recent graduate from the University of Miami. They were given an initial goal and some guidance, but Kelly says the team was able to work independently to “problem solve and figure out how to get there.”
And it paid off – the team surpassed the project’s initial goal last month.
“It really seems like we are in the beginning stages of paving the way for a process to get things done in the future,” Neuwirth said.
Lattik’s experience as a junior fellow allowed her to get up close and personal with a wealth of valuable resources – in her case, a collection of ancient artifacts.
Through the Junior Fellowship program, which pairs a talented student with a curator to work on a research project, Lattik catalogued the jade and greenstone objects in the Library’s Jay I. Kislak collection.
The anthropology major photographed and researched the objects to create a comprehensive resource on the items, including a probable date range, place of origin and a short description.
Lattik explained that she not only gained insight into the history of the artifacts, but also into her own future.
“Getting to be hands-on with objects reassured me that this is my career path,” she said. “There is so much that I was introduced to from this internship, including how government works and what it’s like to work in an office setting where a lot of research has to be done.”