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An Interview with Tina Gheen, from the National Science Foundation

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This week’s interview is with Tina Gheen, who is visiting us from the National Science Foundation.

Describe your background.

Tina Gheen standing in front of a bookshelf.


I’ve only been at the Law Library for a few weeks, but so far, the experience has been wonderful. I’m here on a detail assignment from the National Science Foundation, so I don’t believe I have an official position title within the Law Library. I am originally from Texas, but I moved to the DC area about five years ago, and I absolutely love it. I’m a librarian by training, but I have a great curiosity for science and technology.

What is your academic/professional history?

Currently, I am the Library Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, VA. Much of the work at NSF is focused on providing program officers with access to cutting edge research and helping them identify experts to serve on grant review panels. One of the greatest challenges the NSF Library faces is delivering the breadth and depth of information needed by our staff to complete their work successfully.  NSF staff are often working on the cutting edge of science and innovation, so the library is regularly asked to investigate new technologies, techniques, and fields of research. We were one of the first, if not the first, federal library to migrate to an open source ILS, which was a great accomplishment. Prior to NSF, I worked at BBN Technologies, where I had the pleasure of working with a number of talented computer scientists and software engineers and gained my first exposure to the Semantic Web. I’ve also worked in public libraries. I received my MLS from the University of North Texas, and my undergraduate work was in Biology and Chemistry.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I am looking at how semantic software technologies can be applied to the One World Law Library (OWLL) to help improve searching and provide meaningful content retrieval. For the next few months, I will be absorbing as much information as I can about what the Law Library does, how the information systems at the Library of Congress systems interact, and the ways legal concepts are indexed, searched, and related to each other. I’ll be helping to craft some of the planning documents for the project, and hopefully provide insight into ways to keep the project on-track and moving in the right direction.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

I was invited to join the Law Library staff for a 90-day detail assignment from the National Science Foundation to work on the OWLL project. It’s an exciting opportunity to be part of such an innovative and ambitious project – I couldn’t say no.

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

I had not realized the Law Library collections and staff specialties were so diverse, particularly in regards to foreign countries. I have enjoyed talking with the Foreign Law Specialists about their respective countries of responsibility and the differences they have observed between nations and their customs.

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

I love birds. I wanted to be an ornithologist when I was younger, but I discovered early on there aren’t too many job opportunities in that field. So instead, I volunteer for the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, which keeps me on my intellectual toes and is a great deal of fun.

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