Julie Mangin, a network specialist, retired from the Library on November 3, 2011 after 32 years in the Federal Government. We thought it would be fitting to honor her in a Five Questions Retiree Edition, not just because her office was on the third floor of the Adams Building, but because she has helped our Division with many web-related endeavors– from creating a php form for our research orientation tour to getting our Food Thrift: Scraps from the Past site up and running for an in-house presentation. Constance Carter, Science Reference Section Head, says it best, “Julie is a breath of fresh air–a problem solver who executes, while others ponder.”
Julie who has a B.A. in music from the University of Maryland and a M.L.S from Catholic University, has spent most her working life in libraries, starting off as a teenager shelving books at the Wheaton Public Library (Maryland). Before the Library of Congress she worked at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (Department of Defense) and the National Agricultural Library (NAL) in the interlibrary loans and reference departments. It was at NAL that she learned about HTML and in 1997 she heard that there was a job for a Network Specialist at the Library of Congress…
1. What major changes have you witnessed during your time at LC?
When I came to the Library of Congress in 1998, the World Wide Web was in its infancy. Most personal computers didn’t have the capability to display more than 256 colors, processors were tiny and slow by today’s standards, and dial-up modems were the way most people connected to the Internet. People who had email addresses generally got them through their employers, mostly government agencies or universities. Now, of course, the Internet is ubiquitous, and available to people in all levels of society. The Library of Congress was an early player in the Web world, and throughout my career, I’ve observed the Library try to keep up with the new technology to make its collections accessible to all. That’s a pretty tall order for the world’s largest library, and there hasn’t always been agreement on the best way to do it. I still think that applying library science methods to digital collections is the way to go. That means following international standards and protocols, descriptive cataloging, and controlled vocabularies such as LCSH. Researchers, and the librarians who serve them, need to search a topic exhaustively and accurately, without missing anything or bringing up too many irrelevant results.
2. What has been your favorite activity or achievement over the course of your career at LC?
The work I liked the best involved collaborating with the Interpretive Programs Office to create web versions of the exhibitions in the Thomas Jefferson Building. I felt fortunate as a web developer to be working with content that is so compelling and historically important, and putting it out there for the American public and people all over the world to see. I have learned so much history at the Library, just by reading and viewing the content as I converted it into web pages for the online exhibitions. The “American Treasures of the Library of Congress” inspired me to create my personal Website, “Julie’s Tacky Treasures.”
The exhibition I enjoyed working on most was “The Empire that Was Russia.” To see color photographic images from that early in the 20th century is astounding, and for those images to have documented the breadth of the Russian Empire at that time, doubly so. Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii was clearly ahead of his time as a documentarian as well as a photographer. Working on this online exhibition expanded my technical skills as well; I had to figure out how to present the text of the exhibition in both English and Russian.
Another thing I did at the Library about which I feel proud is working with the webmasters of the twenty reading rooms throughout the Library. I shared with them my knowledge and experience in maintaining websites, and they shared with me their knowledge of the Library and their subject areas, which included science, photography, history, the fine arts, and worldwide cultures. The enthusiasm of Library staff for their work is truly inspiring, and I was happy to know that our collaboration made a difference to people who came to the Library, either physically or virtually, to do research.
3. What will you miss about working at LC?
I’ll miss the people. The Library has the most interesting staff I’ve ever encountered. Whenever I was curious about a subject and needed more information, there was always someone who was an expert to call on. The curators and subject experts take every request seriously, no matter how silly…and some of my requests were pretty silly. I once went to the Asian Division to ask what tune my musical Mao cigarette lighter was playing.
4. What will you not miss about working?
Office politics (what workplace doesn’t have them?), compiling my annual report, and the walk from Union Station to the Library and back when it’s bitterly cold outside.
5. Do you have plans for retired life?
The many hobbies I have already will expand to take up more time than I was able to spend on them while I was working. I’ll have more time to play the banjo, ukulele, and piano. I can browse antique stores and estate sales more often, adding to my collection of kitsch, or what I like to call “tacky treasures.” I will post more of my findings on my website “Julie’s Tacky Treasures.” I have already enjoyed the ability to hike and go bird watching during the week, when local trails are not as crowded.
I’ve also signed up for the Maryland Master Gardener Program, which will involve many hours of classroom work, and also an obligation to volunteer at plant clinics or maintain demonstration gardens. I want to continue traveling with my husband to National Parks in the western U.S. Next on the list is Zion National Park in Utah. Along the way, we’ll probably visit some quirky roadside attractions that I love to photograph, like giant concrete dinosaurs, replicas of Stonehenge, and miniature golf courses.
I plan to keep up with my IT skills. The first thing I want to do is get to know WordPress software as well as I can, and then specialize in using it as a content management system. I’d like to create websites for people that they can update themselves. I’m also going to delve more into HTML5 and CSS3 than I was able to at the Library. I was hoping to get more opportunities to nap, but things don’t seem to be shaping up that way.