Today’s interview is with Stephen Wesson. He’s an educational resources specialist at the Library of Congress. Stephen manages a number of the Library’s K-12 initiatives and blogs for Teaching with the Library of Congress. He does a fantastic job of providing teachers with information about Congress.gov and other areas of overlapping interest such as Magna Carta. He also previously did a guest post on In Custodia Legis, Teaching with the Raw Materials of the Law: Primary Sources and the Legislative Process.
Describe your background.
I moved to Washington from Austin, Texas, which has many things in common with the District: a population of avid readers, a river running through town, and an outsize dome looming over the skyline and over public life. The comparison breaks down when you look at taqueria quality, though, or tolerance for sandals in business meetings.
What is your academic/professional history?
My first career was in educational publishing, where I worked for many years in a number of disciplines. I was fortunate enough to enter that field during a period of transition and was able to collaborate not only with longtime experts in print publishing but also with new arrivals exploring emerging media–the best of both worlds.
How would you describe your job to other people?
In the Educational Outreach division of the Library of Congress, we develop tools and professional development resources that support the effective educational use of the Library’s online collections. Primary sources have tremendous educational power, and as the world’s largest repository of historical artifacts, the Library has great potential for changing the lives of teachers and students. It’s exciting to get to play a part in unlocking that potential every day.
Why did you want to work in the Library of Congress?
The Library has been part of my life since I discovered Alan Lomax recordings in my local public library, and the prospect of helping the greatest cultural institution on the planet reach one of its most important audiences was irresistible. My daily work lets me collaborate with colleagues from a dizzying array of fields and learn from some of the nation’s most creative teachers and students. I discover something new every day, and I can’t imagine that happening any place else.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
I continue to be amazed by the staff of the Law Library of Congress–not only the depth of their subject-matter expertise, but their commitment to supporting the Library’s audiences. Every time I turn around, I discover a new project or a new resource that the Law Library offers. I don’t know when they sleep.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?