Meet August Roberts, PUL's spring 2022 PACSCL DEI Intern

August Roberts joined Princeton University Library (PUL) during the spring 2022 term as its inaugural Special Collections intern through the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL)-sponsored program. A first-year student, Roberts reflected on their time at PUL, which included learning about the archives and the preservation of LGBTQIA stories.

What are you interested in concentrating on at Princeton University?

Since I only just finished my first year at Princeton, I've yet to decide what I would like my concentration to be. Currently, I am considering Art History or English, as both would allow me to explore cultural history using creative sources like art and literature. I feel this best allows one to understand the human element of history, which can be easily overlooked.

Aubrey Roberts

What was your day-to-day as an Intern at the Library? 

Throughout my internship, I experienced what a typical day looked like for various departments within Special Collections. Although this made my day-to-day tasks change every couple of weeks, it was a wonderful chance to learn about the wide range of roles necessary to keep libraries and archives functioning for the public.

Did you have a preference for any of the departments you worked with? Any favorite projects?

Everyone I worked with did a wonderful job of providing interesting and informative introductions to their departments, so it's really hard to decide! Each project I worked on brought a unique exposure to the amazing objects within the PUL Collection. I truly understand the wide range of resources available to Princeton students through Special Collections infinitely better because of my exposure to all these different departments.

One of the projects I worked on was cataloging Roman Imperial coins for Numismatics, which required a lot of attention to detail as I cross-referenced several different books in order to identify and describe coins in the collection. In Mudd Library, I worked on two of Princeton's oral history projects, proofreading and editing transcripts. I also worked with Princeton's F. Scott Fitzgerald collection to rehouse his plays and poems as part of the digitization process. 

Probably the most creative project I worked on was with Cotsen's Children's Library. I worked with the librarians there to create children's programming related to the alchemy exhibit in the Milberg gallery. As part of this programming, we designed an encoded recipe for layered lemonade (which can be found here) in order to teach kids about the practices used by real alchemists. A second part of this project can also be found on the blog, which shows various imagery surrounding toads within the PUL collection. This project involved a lot of research and hand-on exploration of the collections, which was a very exciting experience

Did you learn anything interesting about the LGBTQIA+ community through your internship? 

I learned a lot about the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized groups using library catalogs to find information on their communities. A lot of the 'official' terms used to describe different holdings can be very outdated and inaccurately represent how that community views itself. Librarians have an obligation to reform this language to create easy access to these materials for the public and to respect the communities.

Do you have any advice for students interested in interning at the Library?  

My advice for anyone seeking internships within the Library is to find what you are really passionate about and express your genuine enthusiasm about it. There are so many different and vital roles within the Library that there truly is a spot for anyone, whether you are interested in history, music, engineering, or anything else. Your dedication to both protecting these collections and making them accessible for public enrichment is the most important part of any work within the library.

Published on June 13, 2022

Interview by Brandon Johnson, Communications Specialist

Media Contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications