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An Interview with Laura Fry and Megan Martinsen

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For the last week, I have had the pleasure of working with two library students from the University of Texas at Austin, Laura Fry and Megan Martinsen. They spent their spring break in Washington, D.C. as part of the “Horns on the Hill” internship program, learning about the Library of Congress and our projects to provide access to the law. During their time here, they helped add metadata to improve search results for the Statutes at Large available on our website and will continue to work on this project remotely from Texas.  You will be seeing the results of their work on our website soon!

Describe your background.

Laura Fry (left) and Megan Martinsen (right) standing in front of a globe.
Laura Fry (left) and Megan Martinsen (right)

Laura: I graduated from Transylvania University (yes, that is a real place) with a degree in Biology and Spanish.  After graduation I moved to Austin, TX to serve a year in AmeriCorps, during which I taught after-school science programs.  This inspired me to become a teacher, which I did for four years at the middle school level.  With the move to electronic resources in the classroom I became interested in the organization of information and usability. My desire to use technology to make access to information easier and better, instead of just merely putting it online, led me to the University of Texas iSchool.

Megan:   I watched The Pagemaster when I was 6 years old and decided I was going to be a librarian then and there. Everything that came after that, like graduating from Georgetown where I worked in the special collections division of the library and working on my Master’s of Information at University of Texas at Austin, has really just been about staying true to my 6-year-old self.

How would you describe your job to other people?

Laura: I worked on creating metadata for the Statutes at Large.  The goal of this effort is to make the statutes more searchable and approachable for people to navigate.

Megan:  I’m making documents more accessible in a way only a human can. My job is to read statutes and select keywords based on my analysis of the statutes. And those keywords should make it easier for researchers to find the statutes they want.

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

Laura: I have been working with a state agency in Texas to create metadata for their intranet system.  I have learned a lot along the way and faced a lot of challenges. I was intrigued to work with the Law Library of Congress on their metadata with the hopes of learning some new ideas to improve my work in Texas. Plus, it’s the Library of Congress; I couldn’t pass up a chance to work in the mecca of all libraries.

Megan: I’ve wanted to work at the Library of Congress since I first visited in the 8th grade. Even if it was only a week, fulfilling a long held dream was much too good to pass up.

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

Laura: I was really impressed by how international the Law Library of Congress is – both the collection and the staff.  I really enjoyed hearing multiple languages and accents in the background as I was working in my cube.

Megan: There are a mind-boggling number of books in the basement!

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

Laura: I spent a year between high school and college working on an organic farm in Ohio.  My first year of college I majored in sustainable agriculture.  I’m still not sure how I ended up on a path that has me sitting at a desk in front of a computer, but I would rather be outside playing in the dirt.

Megan:  If I weren’t a librarian I would want to be a sommelier.

Update: This was originally published as a guest post by Jennifer González. The author information has been updated to reflect that Jennifer is now an In Custodia Legis blogger.

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