So things have been crazy around here lately. Breakneck speed! Anyway, I'm officially done at the Newberry Library. The other intern and I presented all our work at a colloquium yesterday afternoon and I think it went really well. The other intern is an undergrad who is, shall I say, still a bit awkward. She's sweet, really, but not comfortable talking in front of big groups of people. We put together a powerpoint presentation and then practiced by ourselves twice before I felt comfortable sending her out in front of a big group of people that included but was not limited to the library president, several civil war buffs, and a handful of donors. I could tell she was a bit nervous starting out but overall it was great. I talked, then she talked, then I talked some more, then she talked more, and then we answered questions. The presentation was about a half hour and there were almost 20 minutes of questions. I'd like to attribute that to our public speaking prowess but really, the topic was very interesting. After that people kept coming up to us and telling us it was a great colloquium. The teacher outreach department even asked us for a copy of the presentation to use in the future! Then we trucked back upstairs to the exhibit preparation room one last time to gather up our stuff and organize our desks. As much as I bitched about this internship this summer, I'm really glad I had the opportunity. First of all, the Newberry is an important library for academic and historical reasons and I'm really glad I got a chance to be a small part of it and see the insider's point of view. The people we worked with were nice and very accommodating of my crazy schedule this summer. Also, I will get around to reading The Time Traveler's Wife* eventually and since it is set at the Newberry I have context out the wazoo. I've seen that library from the top to bottom, been through the stacks, seen "the cage" (really just a book elevator) and heard all about the book that is supposedly bound in human skin (although really, it's not). I also got to see some of the "greatest hits" of the Newberry a couple weeks ago through a special behind-the-scenes tour of the stacks and the vault. I got to see giant books (almost as tall as I am) and tiny books (the size of my thumbnail) and a Shakespeare first folio and the Nuremburg Chronicles. Plus, I got to hold an Oscar (1928 Academy First Award To Ben Hecht For Distinguished Achievement In Writing The Original Story For 'Underworld'). In addition to that, the Newberry is situated kind of between Gold Coast and Oldtown, two adorable and fantastic neighborhoods which I walked through almost daily in the beautiful mild summer weather. And, I could walk to the beach on my lunch hour. It was one of the few paid internships available this summer and although it didn't pay much, it covered rent. So all in all, I'm very glad to have been able to work at the Newberry Library. If you're ever in Chicago, I recommend going to the library for a visit. The building is beautiful and they give tours to the public fairly often, especially on the weekend. Or, you could get a reader's card, peruse the card catalog for something that piques your interest, and see a collection of Civil War letters processed by yours truly. The possibilities are endless!
*I saw Audrey Niffenenger talk at a Granta-sponsored thing on Chicago on Monday night and she was surprisingly delightful and genuine. Also? She really loves Chicago, which makes me like her even more. Plus she manages to make a library sound glamorous!