Library Internship in Paris

During my internship at a library in Paris, I was able to gain a wealth of knowledge on the archival process of collecting cultural institutions. It shored up my studies at Freie by helping me to understand which historical documents and texts an institution deems necessary for acquisition, retention and preservation. For instance, while processing incoming donated collections from notable persons I was made aware that the entire collection would not be retained by the institution. Many deciding factors included whether or not the texts or documents in questions had any distinguishing, unique qualities or profound historical context. In addition, I was introduced to the weeding process that many libraries use to ensure that their shelves can regularly accommodate incoming stock. This included inspecting texts for quality, identifying duplicate titles as well as duplicate works within volumes.

During the internship, I was also able to grasp the assessment and appraisal process inherent in the archival process. This informed my studies by affirming how certain information is deemed inconsequential or invaluable through the various institutional processes. It also reaffirmed my theory that there are theoretical holes in the archives of most collecting cultural institutions. These holes exist by both intentionally and unintentionally excluding texts, documents, artworks and objects. This, in essence, creates a deficit in the institution’s archives. I recognized this in the library’s archives, but was also aware that this was mainly due to the library’s space constraints. My main concern was the ripple effect of the impact on public awareness of subject matter connected to the omitted information.

The internship also enabled me to assist the organization plan for its upcoming series of centennial events. I was able to suggest mini exhibitions and events connected to the breadth of the institution’s 100 year existence. In addition, I informed the institution of ways they could cultivate synergies with other local institutions and scholars to connect their centennial events with those of others. In all, my internship at the library in Paris was fruitful in a variety of ways. I was able to build strong relationships within the institution. I was also able to develop an understanding about the practices and processes of cultural collecting institutions connected to American culture. Moreover, I was able to intimately engage with an institution that has devoted its existence to chronicling the American experience in Paris while connecting the broader region to American culture through its vast and varied collection.

To have been selected for an internship at an institution that has granted fellowships to esteemed Black American authors such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jacqueline Woodson, was an honor. I’m grateful for this unique opportunity.

Tipps für andere Praktikanten

If don’t hold an EU passport, make certain that you have your visa situation well researched.

When looking for an internship in Paris, make sure you interface with organizations that both intersect with your field of study and are willing to help you develop a new skill set.

If possible, try to stay on campus. It’s a much cheaper option than trying to find a place to live on your own. Even still, you’re able to qualify for rent subsidies from the French government through the CAF program. Research this and apply for CAF as soon as you move into your place.

Renter’s insurance is very cheap. You can purchase it for less than 40 Euros. This covered my entire 9 month stay.

Make sure you take advantage of the student rate for the Navigo pass. It’s called the ImagineR and it costs less than 40 Euros per month and is automatically deducted from your French bank account. It enables you to ride the metro, buses, and regional rails.

Formalitäten vor Ort

My internet was included with my student housing on campus. As far as a telephone, you can buy a cheap handy from Auchan (a French department store chain) for around 10 Euros and buy a cheap monthly plan for two Euros a month.

You have to set up a French bank account if you intend to do this and/ or if you intend to work in France. They will not accept a German account. The easiest bank to set up an account with is LCL. They only require an official document from your place of residence and your visa. You will only be able to set up an account at a branch close to you. You will only be able to pick up your bank card from this branch once it is ready. They do not mail bank cards. Monthly bank fees are minimal.

Join the local Erasmus group. They are a great resource. They can be found on Facebook.


Your navigo pass allows you to travel the region, so take advantage. I was able to travel as far as Dourdan, which is a beautiful smaller city roughly one hour and forty minutes away from Paris by train. Unlike Berlin, Paris’ metro system closes at a certain time on weekends. So be mindful of this when you are out and about for parties in the late evenings. They are planning to introduce a pilot program in 2020 that will have certain metro lines run all weekend non stop, but it is very limited in scope.

Paris is a wonderful city. Enjoy yourself and make the most of it. I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to live there, if only for a moment.

Bildquelle: privat

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