Today’s interview is with Noah Lapidus. Noah has been working on the Indigenous Law Portal for several months as an LC Knowledge Navigators Intern. We have previously written about the Indigenous Law Portal several times, including an introduction to the Portal and our addition of Alaskan and Canadian indigenous laws to the portal.
Describe your background.
I was born and raised in beautiful Birmingham, Alabama. Two years ago I moved to Boston, where I study International Relations at Northeastern University. I spent my first semester in London, and then after a year in Boston, I relocated to Washington DC, where for the past six months I’ve had the pleasure of interning at the Law Library in the mornings and for Senator Warren in the afternoons. I will return to Boston to complete my sophomore year this fall after returning to Birmingham for the summer.
How would you describe your job to other people?
I work directly under Dr. Jolande Goldberg, the Law Library classification (K class) expert whom I am now happy to also call my mentor and very close friend. Dr. Goldberg’s most recent efforts have been towards developing the classification schedule for a field that has been too long ignored–Indigenous Law (Class KI). Dr. Goldberg also recognized the potential utility for making such a resource available on the web, and pursued just that.
The Indigenous Law Portal is a free and interactive tool, accessible through the Law Library’s website and based on the new and developing schedule, which seeks to provide unrestricted access to the vast collections that both the Law Library and the Internet have to offer in regards to indigenous law. My job has been to collect the documentation (bylaws, treaties, constitutions etc.) of the various tribes, tribal councils and advocacy organizations found in Dr. Goldberg’s classification. During my time at the Library, I have focused on collecting documents from both Canada and Mexico. I was preceded and will be succeeded by groups of interns who will continue to make impressive strides in other countries. Indigenous law plays a vital role in the quest for indigenous rights, and never before has it been so easily accessible and neatly organized in a singular database for all of the Americas– and hopefully one day, for the entire world.
Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
Personal fulfillment is a prerequisite for any position I apply for, and with this project I saw just that. Obviously I am thrilled to be participating in the development of such an important tool related to indigenous rights, but simultaneously I am assisting in the revitalization of the classification system. Having never lived in a world without the Internet, the classification system has been largely irrelevant in my quest for knowledge. But little did I know, until the first day that I wandered into the library that “Classification is not the organization of books, but of knowledge” (Dr. Goldberg).
What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library?
Upon arrival I was amazed to learn how diverse and multicultural the staff at the Library is. I have learned so much from the people I work with–so many languages, so many backgrounds, and so many new great friends. It makes me wonder why I ever felt the need to travel the world. Next time I’ll just return to the Library of Congress.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I am an avid genealogist. I spent practically my entire childhood researching my genealogy and have been on multiple trips dedicated to researching my ancestry and meeting cousins. To say I’ve spent most of my free time researching in the various reading rooms (when not attending concerts sponsored by the American Folklife Center) would be an understatement.