This week’s interview is with Richard “Ken” Sigmund, a Library Technician for Inventory and Physical Control in our Collection Services Division.
I am a native Marylander. Baltimore is my hometown and I have also lived in Silver Spring, Lexington Park, and Prince George’s County. I recently moved into Washington, DC but I just want to say for the record that Maryland is the greatest state in the union and I am almost certain I will end up there again!
What is your academic/professional history?
I studied physics and mathematics in college for several years, though I have not (yet) earned a degree. I have worked in landscaping, tree cutting, roofing, truck driving, appliance repair, the hotel industry, and as a warehouseman. Before my time at the Library of Congress, I was employed as a microfilm processor at LexisNexis’ plant in Southern Maryland. Although I spent most of the time mixing chemicals in the darkroom, this was my first experience of any kind in the information services field. My last project there was leading a reorganization of their vault of priceless camera masters, which I consider an important lead-in to my work here in collection maintenance.
How would you describe your job to other people?
As a technician in the Collections Services Division of the Law Library of Congress, my general duties include performing inventory, both retrospectively and of new acquisitions, identifying items in need of preservation work, suggesting claims of missing or damaged material, and following all procedures necessary to guarantee LC ownership of materials and public accessibility to hard copy holdings. Although I am grateful to have a varied workload, for the last two years most of my time has been occupied with the ongoing Ft. Meade remote shelving effort. This has proven to be a massive undertaking and I am proud of the progress we have made as the project enters the home stretch.
Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
I needed to make rent! I did not know what I was getting into. After nearly six years at the Law Library, first as a contractor and now as a permanent employee, a lot has changed in my outlook regarding our organization and my role within it. What keeps me coming back is my interest in improving access to and preserving the quality of the collections, and doing so among my hardworking colleagues.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
I am still amazed by the breadth, depth, and sheer size of the collections here at the Law Library. Although this fact may be obvious to my colleagues (and they will probably tell me this is a canned response!) I do believe that it always bears repeating. We are often the sole public source worldwide for a great deal of our holdings, and improving the availability of our resources to our global audience is the most rewarding part of my work here.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
Due to my shy and retiring nature, many here may be surprised to learn that I enjoy performing live music on the weekends. I play guitar and sing in a five-piece rock & roll band. We have a steady schedule of gigs at bars, clubs, weddings, and other events. I think we’re pretty good…but I’m not quitting my day job!