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Interview with Jeanine Cali, Writer at the Law Library of Congress

This week’s interview is with Jeanine Cali who is a writer for the Law Library’s Outreach Team.  Jeanine had previously worked at the Law Library from 2003 to 2009 as a legal reference librarian and has recently returned to the Law Library.

Describe your background

I began work at the Law Library of Congress in May 2003 as a legal reference librarian.  I worked regular shifts at the reference desk, responded to Ask-a-Librarian requests, taught research training courses, and coordinated content for the Law Library website.  I enjoyed coming to work everyday.  The Law Library provides an unparalleled work environment.  It is comprised not only of the largest law collection in the world, but an impressive collection of smart, talented and cordial staff.

A chance to live in Europe took me away from the Library.  In May 2009, we packed up our home and our two sons, and headed to London where my husband Christian was assigned to the U.S. Embassy as a foreign service officer.  It was a wonderful opportunity for our family and we enjoyed our time abroad.  We tried to take in all the sights, seeing most of the U.K. and parts of Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Italy.  We returned in August and are settled back in our family home in Alexandria, Va.

Jeanine at the Saint-Remi Museum in Reims, France (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)

What is your academic/professional history?

I am a graduate of Dickinson College, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and German.  After graduating, I worked as a paralegal with the law firm of Jackson & Campbell, P.C., in Washington.  It was my work experience there and a few trips to the Law Library of Congress for a research project that steered me from applying to law school and convinced me to pursue librarianship as a career.  I moved to North Carolina and quickly enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH)  where I received a Masters of Science in Library Science in 2000 (I also came away with a major need to follow Atlantic Coast Conference sports and support the Tar Heels!).

While at UNC-CH, I worked at the reference desk at the law school library as well as the digitization project, Documenting the American South.  My first professional job as a librarian was with the Raleigh, N.C. office of Hunton & Williams, L.L.P.

I served as branch librarian, where I managed all library operations, from budgeting and personnel to reference and collection development.

How would you describe your job to other people?

Currently, I work on the Outreach team at the Law Library, which is tasked with general promotion of the Law Library and assists in planning and coordinating programs, lectures and special events.  I help write content to promote the Law Library through articles, announcements, brochures and web products.

Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?

I mentioned earlier that I came to the Law Library a number of times for a research project as a paralegal.  Even then, I was amazed by the size of the collection and was struck by how helpful the reference staff was.  At UNC-CH, I traveled back to the Library of Congress for a school trip.  We were given a tour of various sections of the Library of Congress, including the Law Library Reading Room, Main Reading Room, Rare Books and the Manuscripts Reading Room.  For everyone on the trip, it was considered a prized institution. I was lucky enough to start here as a reference librarian and come back after two years in London.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library and/or the Library of Congress?

There is a statute from 1888 that requires a librarian to be on-duty at the Law Library any time either chamber of Congress is in session.  This statute is codified in the United States Code at 2 U.S.C. 138.  As a reference librarian, I worked a number of congressional shifts and literally, we sat at the reference desk ready to take a call from a Member or staff late into the night or early in the morning.

Also, as I mentioned before, the Law Library has an incredible staff.  It would be hard to find a group with more experience and expertise that covers all subjects of librarianship and law across the globe.

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

I am a huge soccer fan.  I started playing the game during library school.  Currently, I play for a women’s recreational team in Arlington, Va.  While in London, I played for the Katabella Ladies Football Club.  Unlike the recreational leagues in and around Washington, the London league was very serious.  It was the first time I was properly coached in the game.  In my first game with the team, I scored a goal which would be my only goal during my two year tenure with the team.  I moved from playing right wing to center back and never saw the back of the net again!

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