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An Interview with Liah Love Caravalho, Administrative Assistant to the Deputy Law Librarian

This week’s interview is with Liah Love Caravalho, who is the Administrative Assistant to the Deputy Law Librarian.

Liah Love Caravalho

Describe your background.

I have been coordinating research activities and reports for the Global Legal Research Center since 2005.  I was born in Houston, Texas, but raised in Seattle, Washington.  I have now been living in the Washington, DC, area for almost five years.

What is your academic/professional history?

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in ancient studies (Roman civilizations) with a minor in chemistry from Mount Holyoke College.

Prior to joining the Law Library, I was a Public Programs and Outreach Educator for Discovery Place, an interactive science museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

How would you describe your job to other people?

My formal title is Administrative Assistant to the Deputy Law Librarian, but my title does not really encompass all the wonderful opportunities that I have at the Law Library of Congress on a daily basis.  I assist our Deputy Law Librarian, Mr. David Mao, with special projects.  I also have a close working relationship with congressional staffers and librarians at the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Supreme Court.  I serve as a liaison between them and our Foreign Legal Specialists for their legal research needs.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

I am a bibliophile at heart!  I have always been fascinated by information, which is why I chose an interdisciplinary major like ancient studies which encompasses history, art, and language.  Similarly, I think working at the Law Library allows me to be exposed to a diverse body of knowledge while also serving the public, which is a skill set I developed while working at a museum previously.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library?

I think the most interesting fact I’ve learned about the Law Library has to do with a notable African-American man by the name of John F.N. Wilkinson, who worked at the Law Library from 1857 until 1912.  He began working at the Law Library as a custodian (that is, handling the dusting of books and caring for the library’s reading room), but over the course of his career he learned the collection so well and developed such a precise knowledge of patrons that he made a very favorable impression on Members of Congress, the bar, and the Justices of the Supreme Court – so much so “that he was at one time even urged for the Law Librarianship itself.”

I first read about Mr. Wilkinson in a booklet that documented a brief history of the Law Library.  I later become so fascinated by him that I requested a copy of a 1975 article from Louisiana State University that Dr. Sylvia Render wrote about him and other notable African-American Library of Congress employees entitled “The Black Presence in the Library of Congress” (which has also been referred to in a more recent article celebrating African-American librarians).  I learned further from her article that Mr. Wilkinson was discharging his duties as an assistant in the Law Library on the day of his death at the age of 81 on October 5, 1912.  Here is the citation information for the article:

Render, S. L. 1975.  Black Presence in the Library of Congress.  Library Lectures, nos. 21-28, pp. 63-79. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Libraries.

What is something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I don’t think I have ever told any of my co-workers that I worked in my high school library as my work-study job to support my high school education at University Prep in Seattle, Washington.  I helped shelve books and assisted the librarians with working with the students.

As far as hobbies, I think my co-workers would be surprised to know how much I love to ice skate.  As a young child becoming a professional ice skater was my first dream.  As an adult ice-skating is my favorite winter sport.

One Comment

  1. Reginald Jerome Myler
    March 10, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I personally wish you the best. You are working at, in my experience the best governmental location in North America.The only place outside my home state of Richmond va. I allowed myself to read books from cover to cover. Nevertheless I am content committed to the privilege of knowledge,past,present and future idealogy of our country,and world. Once again welcome to your new position with our Nation Library. Reginald Jerome Myler March 10, 2011. 011:45 hour.

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