This week’s interview is with Debora Keysor, a Legal Reference Specialist in our Public Services Division.
I was born in a small town in southern Ohio (West Union) and lived there until I went to college. I had the great fortune to be raised by two wonderful parents (and two doting grandmothers). After graduating from law school and passing the Ohio bar exam in 1988, I lived and worked in Columbus until 1998.
When I married my high school sweetheart (in 1992), an active duty Air Force officer, little did I know that my permanent Ohio residency days were numbered. The AF took us around the world, from the deep south, to Germany (where I was able to visit eight countries), and eventually to the DC area, where my husband retired. We had planned on moving back to Ohio, where both of our families reside. However, because we bought high in the housing market (as we generally do in the stock market), we are reluctant to sell low (as we generally do in the stock market), so we decided to stay in Virginia for a while longer than planned. As a result, the “Colonel”, as he is affectionately called, began his second career at the Pentagon and I (happily) have been able to stay with the Law Library of Congress.
What is your academic/professional history?
I have a BS degree in Economics from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) and a J.D. from Capital University Law School (Columbus, Ohio), where I was also an editor on Capital’s Law Review. I have been an active member of the Ohio bar for over 20 years. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work as a staff attorney for many judges throughout my career, at the Court of Claims of Ohio, the Tenth District Court of Appeals for Ohio, and the Supreme Court of Alabama. While with the Court of Claims of Ohio, I also served as editor. What piqued my interest in law librarianship was my five-year tenure as the research attorney for the Alabama State and Supreme Court Law Library. While there, I performed legal reference work, taught Westlaw, served as the liaison to the justices and their staffs, and attended my first American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) conference.
When we arrived here in 2005, my first job application was for a temporary law librarian position with the Public Services Division of the Law Library of Congress. I began in October, 2005 and continued to work as a “temporary” legal reference librarian in the Reading Room. In June of 2007 I accepted my first official government position, as a Legal Reference Librarian, and became a Legal Reference Specialist in January 2010.
How would you describe your job to other people?
In addition to providing legal and legislative reference services to members of Congress, federal agencies, and the general public, I have primary responsibility for the Law Library Reading Room’s collection of federal government documents, including the U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs collection, which dates back to 1832. One of ten depositories in the country of printed Supreme Court briefs, the Law Library collection is second only to the U.S. Supreme Court Library. I take great pride in ensuring the Law Library continues to live up its stellar reputation.
Why did you want to work at the Law Library?
One of my favorite jobs was serving as the research attorney at the Supreme Court of Alabama Law Library. So when I saw the temporary position at THE Law Library of Congress, I immediately applied. If I was going to be living in the DC area, I wanted to be in on the action on Capitol Hill. I also felt it was time to pay it forward. With my educational and professional background, I felt that I could make a positive difference in public service. There is a very high level of job satisfaction that comes with working the Reference Desk in the Reading Room.
What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library of Congress?
The sheer volume of government documents that are received and maintained in the Law Library, including, but not limited to, more than 5,000 U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs each term and, more than 10,000 congressional bills and resolutions each year. In addition, the Law Library of Congress has worked on a hearings pilot project to digitize congressional committee hearings from the Library of Congress collection, which includes over 75,000 volumes of printed hearings. The project’s ultimate goal is to provide free permanent public access to this valuable collection of federal legislative documents. To this end, I was intensely involved in the hearings pilot project to compile three collections: census, privacy, and immigration.
What’s something your co-workers do not know about you?
Most of my co-workers know that I am an avid golfer. But what may come as a surprise is that I was the first female on the “Boys” High School Varsity Golf team, and the first to compete in county tournaments. My competitive spirit on the course has not diminished and I play every weekend, weather permitting. Also, my first job (at 16) was working in the golf course pro shop. And, my last career stop will probably be working at my retirement community’s golf course.