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A Congress.gov Interview with Kelly Yuzawa, Specialist in Legislative Information Systems Management

Kelly Yuzawa is a specialist in legislative information systems management within the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress.  Kelly works with Amy, who was interviewed last week, in CRS.  This continues our Congress.gov interview series that also included MegRich, BarryRohit, AndyVal, and Stephen.

Describe your background.kelly-yuzawa-in-custodia-legis-interview

I grew up in California and Oregon. I was a Japanese/Asian Studies major and spent my senior year of college and thirteen subsequent years living in Japan. I worked at a law firm library while getting my master’s degree in library and information science (MSLIS) from The Catholic University of America, then got a job as a contractor working with Japanese material here at the Library of Congress. I was in the Northeast Asia section of Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access before coming to CRS on a detail to work on the Congress.gov team in 2013.

How would you describe your job to other people?

My job centers around Congress.gov, the new legislative database. Legislative data has many moving parts, and much of my work is checking to make sure that all the parts arrive in the correct form and in a timely manner from our data partners. Since it is a new system that is still being developed, users are getting familiar with it and have lots of questions. I work with the team to answer those questions and provide training to information professionals and Congressional users.

What is your role in the development of Congress.gov?

I help the CRS point person and other team members in planning and implementing improvements. As new functionality is added, I test the system to see that it behaves in the expected manner and provide examples and feedback to the developers if it doesn’t. I also help create and maintain resource pages and do cleanup work on records to make them more accessible in the new system.

What is your favorite feature of Congress.gov?

I love the durable URLs. You can build a search in Congress.gov and email it to someone who can open the results page and see how the search was put together on the search form.

Another favorite thing is that each member of Congress has a landing page with links to biographical information, committee assignments, and contact information. The landing page also collates bills sponsored or cosponsored by the member. Users can click on the policy area subject facet to see what kind of legislation their senator or representative is supporting.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the legislative process while working on Congress.gov?

I think the “commemorative” legislation is fascinating, both for the volume of it and for the range of its content. Until I worked on Congress.gov, I hadn’t realized that there are hundreds of bills introduced each year to honor historical figures, name post offices, commend sports teams, and mark every kind of anniversary imaginable.

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

I write a weekly English conversation column for a Japanese newspaper. I’ve been doing it for 20 years, and I’m running out of ideas. What my coworkers don’t know is that I sometimes borrow their names and bits of their conversations to use in my dialogues. 

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