This week’s interview is with Jill James, chief of the Digital Resources Division at the Global Legal Collection Directorate. Welcome on board, Jill.
Describe your background
I live in College Park, Maryland, with my husband, and our young daughter and son. I grew up in northern Delaware. My parents, younger sister, and most of my extended family still live in Delaware. My mother taught preschool and my father taught high school social studies. We spent family vacations at Dewey Beach and historic sites up and down the east coast.
What is your academic/professional history?
In high school I studied four languages – French, Latin, Spanish, and German. At the University of Delaware I decided to continue my French studies and majored in French and English. I spent a semester studying abroad in Paris and lived with a host family, which was a wonderful experience. While considering a graduate degree in library science, I found a part-time, student position in the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. I assisted in processing rare books and retrieved manuscripts and books from the closed stacks. I loved it! I knew then I would pursue a career in libraries and archives. I earned a Master of Library Science and a Master of Arts in U.S. history from the University of Maryland. After graduating I joined the National Archives and Records Administration where I worked on the online catalog and the website. I became the Archives’ first social media manager. For the past three and a half years I served at the U.S. Department of Education as the web manager for ED.gov and chair of their open data/open government work group.
How would you describe your job to other people?
I lead the Digital Resources team. We create, collect, and organize content for Law.gov and parts of Congress.gov. These two websites, our blog, and our social media accounts provide public access to legislative and legal resources from around the globe, especially the Law Library’s collections.
Why did you want to work in the Library of Congress?
I am passionate about libraries, and I have always loved the Library of Congress. The size and scope of the collections are astounding, and the expertise of the staff is truly impressive. For my graduate studies in history, I wrote a research paper on gender, race, and southern identity in southern cookbooks. My primary sources were 60 cookbooks in the Library of Congress collections. I am excited about the opportunity to enhance digital access to the Law Library’s collections and resources.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
The international scope of the collection and the global expertise of the staff are rich and fascinating.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I am a Girl Scout Brownie troop leader. My mother and her mother were Brownie troop leaders, too, and I am happy to carry on the tradition. The girls in our troop, including my daughter, love the outdoors and camping, so my co-leaders and I completed training for camping, cookout, and first aid levels one and two. The girls also enjoy World Thinking Day activities. The troop spends a month researching daily life in another country and the Girl Scouts or Girl Guides there. Then they share what they learned with other Girl Scouts of all ages at a local World Thinking Day celebration.