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An Interview with Sara Hoover, Remote Metadata Technician

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Today’s interview is with Sara Hoover who works remotely as a volunteer metadata technician with the Digital Resources Division.

Describe your background.

I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, but grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia. Blacksburg is home to Virginia Tech and growing up in a college town gave me an early appreciation for higher education. Consequently, I have spent most of my adult life living in college towns and working in university systems. In recent years, I have lived in England, Japan, San Francisco, Charlottesville, Baltimore, New Haven and Seattle. In 2015 I moved to Bethesda, Maryland, with my husband and our young daughter.

What is your academic/professional history?

Sara Hoover standing on a tile patio outdoors with white benches, a green railing, and trees in the background.
Sara Hoover, remote metadata technician for the Law Library of Congress. Photo by Jean Thomson Black.

I have always been interested in the humanities and I hold a B.A. in English from Dickinson College, an M.A. in English literature from the University of Virginia, and an M.L.I.S. from the University of Washington. I began my career in academic publishing at Johns Hopkins University Press where I spent three years as a metadata assistant for Project MUSE. I then spent two years at Yale University Press as an editorial assistant on the Science, Technology, and Medicine list.  Both of these experiences were fantastic because they gave me an introduction to the different kinds of work that can be done with written materials. Ultimately, my time working with the creation of publications made me realize that I was most interested in areas focused on the preservation and management of written materials. This led me back to graduate school to earn a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.  While in graduate school at the University of Washington, I worked at the Allen Library as an oral history digital technician.  This position allowed me to foster my interest in descriptive metadata while helping to preserve oral history interviews that had been collected by the Washington State Jewish Historical Society.

How would you describe your job to other people?

As a remote metadata technician for the Law Library of Congress, I help put together the metadata that allows researchers, scholars, and legislators to more effectively locate digitized content. I examine digitized materials and apply subject headings that help to group similar items together. This metadata allows researchers to quickly search vast amounts of digital materials.

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

Having spent most of my career working in university systems, when I moved to the Washington D.C. area I was eager to try something new and to explore opportunities with the federal government. I have been fascinated by the work done by the Library of Congress ever since I began working with Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) as a metadata assistant with Project MUSE. I was excited about the possibility of working with an institution that has such an incredible breadth and scope of materials. Furthermore, since I sincerely enjoy exploring new disciplines, working with the Law Library of Congress has given me the exciting opportunity to work with a new spectrum of historical content.

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

What I have enjoyed most about working with the Law Library of Congress is learning how cultural discourse has changed over time within the boundaries of a legal framework. Reading through Civil War era statutes in the United States Statutes at Large Collection, one really gets a sense of how national identity is shaped by the laws that develop and evolve on an historical scale.

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

I spent a year teaching English in Japan after college and, since that time, I have been fascinated with Japanese food and culture. I adore cooking and I have great ambitions to learn how to make my own tofu and to perfect my ramen broth!

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