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An Interview with Candice Townsend, Head of the Reference Section in the CALM Division, Library of Congress

The Collections Access, Loan and Management Division (commonly known as CALM) of the Library of Congress is responsible for “maintaining and serving the [Library’s] General Collections, while ensuring, through appropriate security and preservation measures, that the collection will be available for future generations.”  One of the many functions of CALM is managing interlibrary loans, a program that enables researchers around the country and abroad to access the resources at the Library of Congress.  Through CALM, Library of Congress staff are also able to borrow items held by other institutions in the United States and abroad.

As someone who has on more than a few occasions relied on CALM to obtain articles from various institutions around the country, I am grateful to the Division and its staff.  I hope you enjoy this interview with one of its staff members, Candice Townsend.  Candice is Head of the Reference Section in CALM.

Describe your background.

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia with my five sisters and one brother.  Our parents encouraged loyalty and family values.

I’ve been a resident of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area for more than 19 years.  The District of Columbia offers a wealth of history, culture, and heritage, making it an exciting city in which to reside.  In a household with three males (husband and two sons) there is much fun and excitement.  However, a quiet spot to read remains a pleasant escape.

What is your academic/professional history?

I am a first generation college graduate.  I received an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Trinity College, Washington, D.C. and a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree from The Catholic University of America (CUA).

Inside the Thomas Jefferson Building

After graduating from Trinity College, I was employed as an Office Manager for a small lobbying firm, based in MinneapolisIt was a great experience.  I received a healthy introduction to Westlaw and LexisNexis.  Unfortunately, our Washington, D.C. travel office closed.  Considering my passion for books and organization, my husband encouraged me to pursue a post secondary degree in librarianship. This degree was instrumental in my first position as an assistant librarian with the District of Columbia Public LibraryNeedless to say, my life was really busy: reference desks by day and classes in the evening.  I received a tremendous amount of support from my family, CUA faculty and friends.  They all encouraged me to work hard, championing my progression from Reference Librarian to experienced Branch Manager. After eight years of direct public service with the District of Columbia Public Library, I began to seek a broader and more challenging position in the library field.  Such an opportunity was presented through an opening at the Library of Congress for which I applied.  The rest is history.

How would you describe your job to other people?

The Reference Section of CALM is fast-paced and invigorating; there is never a dull moment.  We provide direct access to the Library’s collections to Members of Congress and their staff, the Supreme Court, embassies and the Executive Office of the President.  We also process interlibrary loan requests, both foreign and domestic.

Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?

A passion for reading led me to pursue a career in Library Sciences.  As a Reference Librarian, it is an honor and a privilege to work for the Nation’s Library.  The collections are awesome and often cited and referenced throughout the world.

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

I am most impressed with THOMAS.  This website provides extensive, up to date legislative information.  I’ve had an opportunity to attend several informative sessions and found them to be a great resource.

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

I am an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  It is the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African-American, college-educated women.  I am committed to community service and am able to volunteer through my sorority.  Our current goals and initiatives include, among other things, eradicating global poverty, enforcing human rights, ensuring economic security and fostering young-adult leaders.  It allows me to provide personal support and interact socially with sorority sisters while working on these worthy endeavors.

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