This week’s interview is with Betty Lupinacci, Lead Technician for Legal Processing Workflow Resolution in our Collection Services Division (CSD).
Describe your background
I was born and raised in and around Pittsburgh, PA at a time when they still had functioning steel mills in the downtown area. I am the third of six siblings (two boys and four girls) of Italian, German and Ukrainian ancestors who mostly worked in the coal mines and steel mills of Western Pennsylvania. I grew up fascinated with politics. (My earliest memory is of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral, and Watergate broke when I was 12.) As a result I worked on several political campaigns as a “youth volunteer” before I was even old enough to vote. Moving to DC seemed inevitable.
What is your academic/professional history?
I attended The George Washington University where I studied political science with minors in math (statistics) and foreign languages (French and Russian). During college I worked for my state’s senator, Sen. H. John Heinz, for a year. My first job out of college was as a law library contractor. That led to a job here in the Law Library Reading Room as a technician for four years followed by two years in the Copyright Office. I then spent twenty years working with an estate planning attorney where I did mostly accounting and tax work for the trusts and estates of a very unique collection of old-guard Washingtonians (an experience that was the polar opposite of how boring it sounds). When the attorney retired last year I wound up back here at the Law Library.
How would you describe your job to other people?
I guess I do a bit of everything with respect to maintaining the collection. One of my major duties though is to track the hours worked by Collection Services Division’s 25-30 contractors on its six contracts, reporting on spending issues, helping plan for new contracts and pre-approving the monthly invoices. When I’m not doing that I spend a lot of time helping various CSD staff and contractors, answering questions they have on processing incoming receipts, setting up records, reviewing errors. I’ve also worked on a few special projects such as the Haitian digitization project where Brian Kuhagen and I researched the titles in our collection to ensure they did not still fall under Haitian (or French, as the case may be) copyright protection before sending them for digitization.
Why did you want to work at the Law Library?
When I started here years ago it seemed an amazing thing to be working at what I saw as THE library of all libraries. It wasn’t anything I ever planned to do but once I got here I loved it. Just the scope and vastness of the Law Library’s collection fascinated me. Some 20 years later, when my boss began talking retirement, I saw a posting for a full-time position in CSD. I found I still felt some of that same rush at the idea of working with such a unique collection again so I jumped at the chance.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library?
That for some countries our collection of legal materials may be more complete and comprehensive than the collections of the country they came from. For example, under Taliban rule all prior Afghani codes were destroyed. The Law Library holds a selection of these old records.
What is something that most of your co-workers do not know about you?
Well I think everyone knows I have some of the requisite (for CSD employees) love of baseball. And that I love to cook and try new restaurants. But what they might not know is that several years ago I had some friends who fretted at the fact that I didn’t collect anything. They decided to remedy the situation and, as these things have a tendency to grow all out of reasonable proportion, I am now the “proud” owner of between 150 and 200 snow globes.
The interviews are great, and so is Betty. Her L.C. background makes her an expert on so many aspects of the Law Library. And baseball.