1. What is your background?
My background ethnically is Anglo and Pennsylvania (PA) Dutch. I was raised on a PA working farm (Herd Farms), which my siblings and I still own. I attended a one room country school three miles from the farm. When I was seven I began working on the farm and by thirteen my parents had started a mobile home business and Herd Farms became the responsibility of my brother, sister and myself. Wholesale and retail of farm produce was a full time occupation during the summer for my junior, high school and undergraduate college years. I commuted to Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA and graduated with an undergraduate degree in Spanish. During my junior year I attended the Universidad de Valladolid in Spain, which was then governed by Generalissimo Francisco Franco. I was fortunate to have a full time working scholarship while I was earning my Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from American University in Washington, D.C. After the one year scholarship ended, I worked as a translator for the Embassy of Ecuador.
I spent the next year in Ecuador interviewing and researching the topic of land reform in order to return to D.C and write my Master’s thesis. It was a year full of adventure and political unrest since there was a coup d’etat that year. While writing my thesis I painted houses to make ends meet. Soon after completing the Master’s degree I applied to work at the Library of Congress.
2. Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
I wanted to work at the Library of Congress for a number of reasons. I had studied there as a graduate student and loved the Library, the books, and the staff. They were knowledgeable, courteous and provided excellent customer service to patrons. I also was very aware that many of the staff were polyglot. Since I was fluent in Spanish I hoped to use my language in my career with LC.
3. How would you describe your job at the Library of Congress?
It has been my good fortune to work at a number of jobs during my career with the Library. I was initially hired for my fluency in Spanish. My first job was working in the old Official Catalog. Within a short time I was asked to apply for a job in the Hispanic Division. There I worked on the Handbook of Latin American Studies, which is a longstanding multilingual annotated bibliography on Latin America in all humanities and social science disciplines, prepared by Hispanic Division staff and published by an academic press (Harvard, Florida, Texas, etc.). For five years, I created the subject index for the Handbook and laid the ground for a standardized vocabulary for the online version.
While working in the Hispanic Division I completed my Master’s in Library and Information Science at Catholic University of America, got married and had my first son. I knew I wanted to increase my family so I looked around the Library for a “mommy job.” Since I love working with concepts and the relationships between them, I was very well-suited and happy to work in the Subject Cataloging Division.
While developing the H classification schedules and establishing new Library of Congress Subject Headings for social science disciplines, the Library began putting the cataloging tools online. I worked with the team that created Classification Web which combined the tools needed for cataloging. After that experience I worked for 10 years as a sales representative for the Cataloging Distribution Service at ALA and SLA conferences demonstrating and selling the Classification Web software to librarians from all over the world. During my tenure in cataloging I studied for a third Master’s in Business Administration and had a daughter and another son. When my third child was entering first grade I began working full time and soon after I began working as a reference librarian in Business Reference Services of the Science, Technology & Business Division.
4. Do you have a favorite Library collection or program?
Access for researchers to the print and electronic collections has always been my passion. As a result I spend a great deal of time honing my search and taxonomy skills and learning how to best utilize the massive collections of the Library. I particularly enjoy recommending business and economics electronic collections during the last ten years. Working with database vendors, evaluating new subscription databases and keeping up with new enhancements in order to provide superior customer service to business researchers is time consuming but rewarding. Answering the endless variety of business and economics questions received from our Ask a Librarian service, in both English and Spanish, is challenging and fulfilling.
5. If you weren’t a librarian what would you want to be?
I’d probably work as a Latin American studies analyst for the State Department or World Bank.