Rising Junior Explores Possible Career Paths through Library of Congress Summer Internship

Library of Congress main reading room

Library of Congress main reading room

By Jeanne Leong

Pariti Sutaria’s inquisitive nature led her to an internship at the Library of Congress, where she experienced some of what happens behind the scenes at the library – albeit virtually due to pandemic restrictions.

The Library of Congress, the main research arm of the United States Congress, is the largest library in the world, housing millions of books, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, photos, and audio and video holdings.

As one of 42 students from across the United States selected as Junior Fellows, Sutaria worked on her computer from her Glassboro home to update the Library of Congress’ database of more than 1,200 selected websites on business and economics.

“It is great to see that what I am doing is actually useful and meaningful, making a real difference that is beneficial for the researchers at the Library of Congress,” says Sutaria, a Rutgers‒Camden rising junior majoring in management and statistics.

Pariti Sutaria’s efforts at the Library of Congress will make it quicker and easier for staff and researchers to access information they need.

Created in 1996, the BEOnline+ in-house website database has been updated periodically, but it needed a thorough review. Sutaria spent the summer identifying outdated websites and broken links, recommending additional online resources, and reviewing over 150 subject areas in the collection.
During the nearly three-month internship, the Rutgers–Camden student examined the entire database by clicking through each link and checking for materials that required updating. Sutaria reviewed 1,600 items that needed to be changed, fixing links and recommending changes to allow the database to function efficiently.

Under the supervision of a Library of Congress project mentor, who kept in contact with Sutaria by phone and on Zoom, she also helped librarians create research guides and subject guides to make it easier for staff to assist library patrons.

Sutaria’s work on the project will have lasting effects at the library by helping document workflows and update policy guidance. Her efforts will inform the selection of future websites for inclusion in the database, offering a curated list of recommended websites for researchers working on related topics.

With assistance from the Rutgers School of Business‒Camden Student Experience Center, Sutaria decided to apply for the internship because of the opportunity to learn about the intersection between library science and database management in business. Her limited knowledge of libraries consisted of going to her local library as a child.

As one of just a few undergraduates in the program, she was a bit intimidated at the start of the internship by the other fellows, most of whom are library science Ph.D. students. Asking questions gave her the confidence to ask more questions. “I was being heard,” Sutaria explains. “I matter and my work matters.”

Always curious and eager to learn, Sutaria asked many questions. “I was not afraid of things that I didn’t know,” she says. “I would ask questions like, ‘Why does the business reference section function like this?’ and ‘Why don’t you do this instead?’”

A transfer student from the University of Rochester, Sutaria spent part of the spring 2020 semester taking remote-learning courses and attended virtual classes for her entire sophomore year at Rutgers‒Camden.

While she prefers taking classes and talking to classmates in person, one of the appealing aspects of the Library of Congress internship was that it was virtual. “I don’t have the financial means to live in D.C. for three months,” says Sutaria. “I am really grateful that this opportunity was offered virtually; otherwise, I would have never applied for it or taken it.”

The downside of a virtual Library of Congress internship, Sutaria says, is seeing photos of the building’s beautiful architecture instead of experiencing it in person. She hopes to visit the library in the fall for a tour of the building and a face-to-face meeting with her project mentor and other library staff.

Sutaria’s internship experiences inspired her to continue exploring other opportunities that could help her choose a career path.

“I really enjoy leading, organizing, and planning, but I don’t know what I hope to be managing one day or what it is I want to do, exactly. My goal is to really explore avenues of management and see what it is that really speaks to me.”

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