This week’s interview is with Mike Newman, an Information Technology Specialist at the Library of Congress. Mike works with Tammie in Information Technology Service of the Library. He knows all the technical ins and outs of THOMAS.gov. Chances are if I get a call about how THOMAS works that I can’t answer, I can ask Mike and he will know.
Describe your background.
I grew up in Charlotte, NC, where my immediate family still lives. I spent 10 years in Atlanta for grad school, then moved to Washington, DC 15 years ago. I’ve been working at the Library of Congress and living on Capitol Hill for over 10 years, walking (or biking) to work every day.
What is your academic/professional history?
I have a PhD in 18th Century British Literature. I did a good bit of work with computer-aided instruction in grad school, and was looking for a job in the DC area just as the internet was taking off, so I was able to get a job working on the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After a stint in private industry, I ended up here.
How would you describe your job to other people?
I’m the guy who can talk to computer programmers, content experts, and members of the public of widely-varying technical expertise—I liaise. I also do a lot of the html work for THOMAS.
Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
I was already living on Capitol Hill, and thought it would be nice to be able to walk to work. My previous job had involved a lot of interaction with THOMAS, so I knew the site pretty well before starting at the Library. Plus, I’ve always been interested in politics, so it was a natural fit.
What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about THOMAS?
That a lot of the information isn’t actually generated by the Library of Congress. Much of what we do is to consolidate information that already exists in electronic form, rather than starting from scratch. We get information from the House of Representatives, Senate, and Government Printing Office, as well as the Law Library of Congress and the Congressional Research Service within the Library. THOMAS wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of our partners.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I performed over 50 weddings last year.