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Interview with Tessa Kelder, Global Legal Research Fellow

Tessa Kelder, Global Legal Research Scholar at the Law Library of Congress

Tessa Kelder, Global Legal Research Scholar at the Law Library of Congress

Describe your background.

I am from the Netherlands. My husband, our 6 year-old son, and I moved to D.C. from The Hague, as my husband is a short-term fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library. We will be here till the end of July, after which we’ll spend a few weeks at Cape Cod before going home in mid-August.

What is your academic/professional history? 

I have an MA in English Language and Literature from Utrecht University. During my time at university, I also spent a year at the English Department of University of Manchester, UK as a Harting Scholar. Since then, I’ve worked in information and communications services in various organizations. For the past ten years, I’ve been at the Dutch House of Representatives, where I am a senior communications advisor and team leader within the Communications Department.

How would you describe your job to other people?  

At the Dutch House of Representatives I am jointly responsible for online communications (e.g., via the corporate websites). In the past few years I’ve also worked as an advisor to a parliamentary committee of enquiry as well as in the communications team for the parliamentary dimension of the Dutch EU-Presidency (Jan-July 2016). I lead a team of communications officers and am part of the department’s management team.

At the Law Library, I am a Global Legal Research Fellow. I am working on a research project that will look into the use of services comparable to those of the Law Library for the parliaments of a wide range of countries, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Albania, New Zealand and South Korea. I will focus on the type and range of services offered, ways of interaction with members of congress / parliament, demographics, et cetera. An international benchmark of facts and figures, if you like.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library? (Or Library of Congress) 

When I thought about moving to D.C., my first thought was to try and find a work placement in my own right. The Library of Congress was at the top of my list. It is an institution of a scale and grandeur that you do not find in the Netherlands. It’s a great opportunity to be here and get to see the work of the Library from the inside. I hope to bring back some of my experiences to the Dutch House of Representatives. And of course, I hope to come up with some great results for my research project for the Law Library!

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

I am constantly amazed at the breadth and depth of all the work that goes on here. The sheer size of the buildings and the collections they house is mind boggling. I recently had the chance to see the stacks in the cellar of the Madison Building, and that huge space and those seemingly endless shelves just take your breath away. I also had absolutely no idea of all the work that goes on at the Law Library and the amazing number of dedicated and extremely talented people that work there.

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

There’s probably quite a lot that my co-workers do not know about me, since I’ve only been here about a month. I’ll go for the fact that I volunteered as an English language instructor for immigrants at the William and MarySchool of Education in Williamsburg, VA in 2011. So I was teaching English to people from all over the world, including Colombia, Azerbaijan, Mongolia and South Korea. It was a rewarding experience, and I learned a great deal from it.


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