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An Interview with Marjut Kokko, Chief of Information Services, Finnish Supreme Court

This week’s interview is with Marjut Kokko, who is the Chief of Information Services at the Supreme Court of Finland.  Marjut visited the Law Library of Congress to learn more about our services and practices.

Describe your background.

I have been at the Law Library of Congress for two weeks as an international guest/intern. I am a law librarian at the Finnish Supreme Court in Helsinki, Finland. My job title there is Chief of Information Services. I am also the president of the Association for Finnish Information Specialists.

Marjut and her husband Arto out and about in Washington, DC

I speak Finnish, Swedish, English, and German. I also understand other Nordic languages (except Icelandic) as there is a lot of cooperation between the Nordic Supreme Court librarians.

What is your academic/professional history?

I have a degree in law from the University of Helsinki and completed additional studies in library science at the Helsinki University of Technology.

Prior to the Supreme Court I worked for ten years at a big Finnish law firm as their head of knowledge management.

How would you describe your job to other people?

During my time here at the Law Library of Congress I have visited different parts of the Library and done some research on legal questions that interest the Supreme Court justices at home. For example, I had assignments regarding punitive damages and divorce settlement agreements, and state/federal jurisdiction in specific matters. In conducting my research I have used Westlaw and visited the Law Library’s Reading Room.

I also had the opportunity to meet Judy Gaskell from the U.S. Supreme Court Library and some other government officials and librarians. I was even fortunate enough to visit the Georgetown University Law Library, the National Agricultural Library, and the Office of the Federal Register. My schedule has been busy for these two weeks!

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

The Law Library of Congress is a traditional and well organized library with great resources. It is wonderful to see how it works and how acquisitions, cataloging, research and all the other things that I do are done at this magnitude.

It has also been fascinating to learn more about law librarianship. Perhaps I have grown to appreciate my own craft more here. This is a serious business done by some highly qualified people.

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

I have learned a lot about the digitized materials and microfiche, but it does not seem like the paper format is going to by completely outdated any time soon. This is too bad because I heard that there are approximately 5 million pages of loose-leaf materials coming into the Law Library each year. And I thought I was in trouble with ours!

In the common law system, which relies heavily on precedent and judges’ written opinions, the volume of legal material is much bigger than in our civil law system. With the introduction of EU legislation, however, we have also had to widen our perspective into more international case law and literature.

Marjut and Arto with daughter Irene on the National Mall

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

I have gone jogging on the Mall in the mornings. During the upcoming Mother’s Day weekend I plan to run a half-marathon in Helsinki. My aim is to run it in less than two and a half hours, jet lag allowing.

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