This week’s interview is with Rick Fitzgerald, a Librarian in the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate of the Library of Congress.
I grew up in Sparta, New Jersey, and moved to Arizona in 1994, where I lived on and off for nine years. I have also lived overseas for brief periods – in the Netherlands and in Scotland. I also enjoy travelling and recently just got back from two weeks in Russia.
I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (printmaking emphasis) from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff in 1999, and upon realizing I spent most of my waking hours at the library rather than the studio, I knew a career change was imminent! I moved to Tucson for grad school, and received a Master of Library Science from University of Arizona in 2002.
I applied for a job at the Library of Congress as a serials cataloger while in grad school. I got the job, and right after graduation I relocated to Washington where I started at the Library in 2003 in what is now the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access (ABA) Directorate. I recently celebrated my ten-year anniversary at the Library!
What is your professional history?
Most of my professional librarian experience has been at the Library, where I have worked in several positions.
My first job was as a serials cataloger in the former Serial Record Division. From there, I went on to learn acquisitions work while continuing to work on serials in the former European and Latin American Acquisitions Division. In both these areas, I processed materials going into the Law Library of Congress as well as into the Library’s general collections.
Also around that time, I began working on other digital projects. One of these was cataloging for the Library of Congress Web Archives. During a one-year detail from ABA Directorate to Network Development and MARC Standards Office, I learned more about the processing of web archives using MODS XML Schema. I am now the primary cataloger for the web archives. It has given me an opportunity to work with an incredible cross-section of people from all over the institution.
How would you describe your job to other people?
I am responsible for the bibliographic records for the web archives and the cataloging work. Managing web archives is quite challenging; there are a lot of moving interconnected parts and those involved need to rely on each other to make sure these parts are in sync.
Recently, my colleagues and I have spent a lot of time thinking about the scope of a website – for collecting, for seeking permissions as well as for providing end-user access. In many cases, it is not just a simple URL!
We are also in the process of incorporating the web archive records into the Library’s metasearch. This presents new opportunities as well as challenges. It will eventually provide a new discovery experience for collections in the Library of Congress Web Archives such as the Legal Blawgs Web Archive, as well as opportunities for linking Congress.gov to Congressional web archives.
Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
I love libraries of all kinds, always have. The Library is still very awe-inspiring to me. I still feel like a tourist when I enter the Jefferson Building, even ten years later. I feel very fortunate to have been able to have such a range of professional experience within one institution.
What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Library of Congress?
My favorite fact, or artifact, is the Library’s old card catalog system, which is still onsite. I enjoy looking at the old handwritten cards and thinking about how great catalogs were built using a much simpler toolset than we have today.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
That I am a die-hard music fan. I like to go see concerts all over the city, and can often be found in one of the local concert venues like Rock and Roll Hotel or the 9:30 Club. Also, I am a huge Washington Nationals baseball fan. I attended their first game at RFK Stadium and have followed them through the lean years, right up to the recent playoff run.