What is your background?
I am a proud native Texan that grew up in and around the City of Houston. I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Texas Tech University in less than four years and moved to Dallas upon graduation. I took a position as a “writer” for a technical staffing firm then later decided to follow in my grandmother’s footsteps and become a librarian. I earned my master’s in library science at the University of North Texas and landed my first professional “librarian” position at the Business Information Center (now the “Business Library”) within SMU’s Cox School of Business.
After working as a traditional academic and public librarian for almost ten years, I moved to Maryland and began working for a digital imaging company. Within three months, I was charged with hiring and managing a small team to complete a pilot digitization project within the U. S. Copyright Office, a service unit of the Library of Congress. After the project was complete, I obtained a full-time position within Copyright’s Public Information Office. My dream job, of course, was a reference librarian position at the Library of Congress. That dream was realized in September of this year when I joined the Business Section of the Science, Technology and Business Division (ST&B) and I could not be happier!
Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
My graduate school advisor and mentor, Dr. William Moen, actually sparked my interest in working for the Library of Congress while I pursued my library science degree. He was among an elite group of outstanding library school graduates awarded a year-long internship at the Library. I found his stories of working at the Library with the legendary Henriette Avram, developer of the MARC standard, inspiring…and if I ever left Texas, that’s where I wanted to work. In 2009, I married my husband and moved to the D.C. area to be with him. With that move, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try and follow in my mentor’s footsteps and get on at the Library of Congress – a mecca of sorts for me as a librarian.
How would you describe your job at the Library of Congress?
I would describe it as “always changing.” Similar to many of my colleagues, I too have held several different positions within the Library. My first job was working as a contractor managing a digitization project for the U. S. Copyright Office, where my team and I were responsible for digitizing 2.5 million assignment cards of Copyright’s physical card catalog. From there, I landed an Information Specialist position within Copyright’s Public Information Office, which required an in-depth familiarity and understanding of copyright law and regulations.
I moved to the Records, Research & Certification Section three years later, where I conducted searches and reported my findings in official reports to Copyright clients – many of whom were interested in knowing whether a work was still under copyright protection. Now, as a reference librarian in the Business Section of ST&B, I help researchers maneuver the collections and resources here at the Library and answer challenging business related questions.
Do you have a favorite Library collection or program?
Given that I spent the last four years working in the Copyright Office, I have developed a great fondness and serious appreciation for the historical collection of Copyright records, particularly those made available through the Catalog of Copyright Entries. The historical records of the U. S. Copyright Office go as far back as 1870, which is the year copyright activities were centralized within the Library of Congress. Records of registration and renewal are available to the public through a physical card catalog, which is thought to be the largest card catalog in the world.
The Catalog of Copyright Entries (CCEs) is an interesting collection because it contains the same registration and renewal information that can be found in the card catalog and has recently been digitized and made available through Internet Archive. Through the CCEs, and the records in the online Copyright public catalog, you can research the status of a work to help determine whether or not the work is still under copyright protection. Before leaving the Copyright Office, I helped develop a webinar demonstrating how to navigate and use the electronic CCE collection which can be found at http://copyright.gov/tutorials/records/cce.mp4.
If you weren’t a librarian, what would you want to be?
Based on the books, shows and movies I enjoy, I think I would want to be a detective. I was a huge fan of Encyclopedia Brown growing up and playing the board game “Clue.” Puzzles of all sorts are still a favorite pastime. I think that’s why I enjoy reference work so much – I’m continually trying to figure out what information patrons are really looking for, then tracking down the answer or resource that will provide that information. Many times, especially with business questions, the answer may be a real mystery – meaning that the answer is secret or unknown – which takes some serious detective work to come up with an alternative that meets or exceeds patron expectations.