Student Mary Woods Interns at Library of Congress

Community Profile

iSchool student Mary Woods never dreamed that she would be able to combine her love for film and television with a career in librarianship until she spent her summer working as a junior fellow at the Library of Congress.

Woods, who earned her undergraduate degree in screenwriting from Chapman University, interned in the Library of Congress’ Moving Image department located at the brand new Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Virginia.

Woods worked on a number of projects involving film, video and paper-based collections. She pulled “several hundred” DVD-Rs from the vaults and prepared them for digitization. She also processed two new nitrate film accessions: repatriated films from New Zealand, as well as a collection of rare films from private collector Lou di Crescenzo.

“I wound through old films, made note of their condition, and identified them,” Woods said. “Sometimes identifying them was as easy as looking for the titles or credits. Other times, the only clues I had were film stock edge codes, types of soundtracks used, or types of costumes and props.”

Woods moved from Orange County, California, to Virginia for the summer. It was a huge commitment that was “worth it in order to learn from such accomplished professionals at such an amazing institution.”

Woods landed the Library of Congress fellowship in part because of an assignment she completed for her INFO 259: Preservation Management course, taught by Victoria McCargar, which required students to complete a personal digital curation project. For her assignment, Woods took ten digital files – some of them “pretty obscure filetypes,” she said – and converted them into new filetypes while trying to keep the integrity of the new files and noting changes in the usability, size, and stability over the course of ten weeks.

“Digitization management was a large part of my work at the Library of Congress,” Woods said. “For instance, while working there, I learned that data on DVD-R/RWs does not last nearly as long as commercially produced DVDs (make note everyone!), so this data must be migrated to something more stable.”

Woods previously worked in fundraising for a local science museum, which gave her valuable experience with databases and the grant writing process. Although she enjoyed her work, she left her job in order to focus on gaining more library and archival experience.

Woods, who expects to graduate in December 2011, initially started the MLIS program with a focus on archival studies, but has become increasingly interested in digital asset management.

“Living in a world where we can store seemingly endless amounts of digital data is both very exciting and daunting,” she said. “It begs the question, what good is keeping all of those files if you can’t search, locate, or sift through them?”