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An Interview with Tanya London, Stacks Services Lead Technician

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This week’s interview is with Tanya London, lead technician in the Stacks Services section of the Law Library’s Collection Services Division.  Tanya recently held an extended temporary position as a program specialist in the Law Library’s Office of Legislative and External Relations.

Tanya London standing in an aisle between two tall metal shelves filled with old books. Describe your background.

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in History/Political Science from Virginia Union University. I initially had aspirations of becoming an attorney.  Then during my last year at school, I took a research and writing class which led me to change my career goal.  I wanted to become a librarian.  Before becoming a lead library technician at the Law Library of Congress, I was a library/serial assistant at the law library of a law firm.

I attend the Ebenezer AME Church and am a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and the Library of Congress Blacks in Government Chapter, and the Library of Congress Professional Association as well as the Daniel A. P Murray association. I have been a keyworker of the Combined Federal Campaign on multiple occasions and have volunteered at the polls for the 2008 presidential election and at numerous non-profit organizations including the DC Central Kitchen, Christmas in April*USA and Food and Friends.  In addition, I continue to fight for those affected by diabetes as a volunteer, a marathon walker, and fundraiser.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I provide legal research material to Congress, the Supreme Court, other government agencies, staff and the public.  I help sort, arrange, shelve, and conduct physical inventory to secure material in the largest law library collection in the world. As a lead library technician I am responsible for providing quality customer service by double checking all “Not-on-shelf” (NOS) responses to patrons. For example, I searched for a book for a reading room patron after the initial response to his request was that the book was not on shelf.  After further research and checking various locations in the collection, I found and delivered the book to the patron.  He was very excited and gave me a big hug to show his appreciation.  That was a shock but also a proud moment that highlights the appreciation we get from patrons when we provide good customer service. 

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

I was performing offsite research for my previous employer here at the Library of Congress when I realized this would be a great place to work.  I sought out the Law Library as a way to develop my research skills in a subject area I was interested in.  Also, I knew I would have access to the largest law collection in the world.  

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

I’ve learned that the Law Library isn’t just about the books in the collection.  It’s about the valuable information contained in the pages of the books and who has access to the information. For example, I learned while on a short administrative detail in the Global Legal Resource Room as a library technician, that our foreign law specialists rely heavily on this collection because it contains the most up-to-date versions of the laws of their designated countries.

Also I’ve learned, while on a eight month administrative detail in the Office of Legislative and External Relations (Outreach) as a program specialist, how we promote our resources  and collection to various current and prospective clients as well as the general community.  I have organized tailored information sessions and collection tours for judges, lawyers, congressional staffers, foreign ambassadors and parliamentary dignitaries and law and medical school students.  I have also produced a successful program on the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” from a legal perspective” with Professor Lewis Grossman of American University, Washington College of Law.

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

I am a philanthropist at heart.  I would like to start the Jasmine and Monique Stewart Foundation.  Named for my nieces and in admiration of my sister for the sacrifices she has made to give my nieces opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities.

Over the years my nieces have been fortunate to participate in several after school and summer programs.  The programs have been very costly and time consuming. Hence, the foundation would provide scholarships to families to cut down on the expenses associated with participating in extracurricular activities.

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