Today’s interview is with Kevin Sitarski, a remote metadata intern working with the Digital Resources Division.
Describe your background
I am originally from the picturesque Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York, where my first job during high school was working as a page at the local public library. My early work experiences, including my second job – as a student assistant at the University of Chicago’s Regenstein Library – were extremely positive and factored into my decision to enroll in a library science master’s program a number of years later. Since college, I’ve moved around quite a bit, having lived and/or worked in places like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Scranton and Allentown, Pennsylvania. I have been living in Fairfax, Virginia, since 2013.
What is your academic/professional history?
I have a B.A. in History from the University of Chicago, a paralegal certification from Georgetown University, and just this year I received my Master in Library and Information Science from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, where I was an online student. In addition, I’ve worked for several years as a contract paralegal with the Department of Justice and have had several memorable internships, including a U.S. Senate campaign, the Washington D.C. Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs, and now the Law Library of Congress.
How would you describe your job to other people?
In order to make its collection of legal materials more accessible to the public, the Law Library of Congress works to digitize and publish them online. As an intern, I help with the creation of “descriptive metadata” for these electronic documents. This helps researchers to more easily search for specific subject matter, or to conduct complex searches involving multiple subjects through what is called a “faceted search.” The specific group of documents I work on are the Statutes at Large: the complete set of laws passed by Congress each year. It’s an enormous project, but a great chance to get immersed in a piece of American history and to help make this information more readily available to people.
Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
It is a world-class institution and an excellent scholarly resource, and I knew I would be able to find a project that synthesizes my various interests – history, the law, and technology. I like being able to connect people with the information they’re looking for, and I like being able to make history applicable to the here and now. With this internship, I feel like I’m able to do both of these things, which has been personally very satisfying!
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
Staff at the Library put together exhibits for the public on noteworthy events from history, and, as part of these exhibits, will link to significant Congressional Acts from that time period. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my internship has been to note whenever I find something historically interesting during my review of the Statutes at Large and knowing there’s a chance my findings might show up in one of these exhibits! Because most of the work I’ve done has focused on the years during and after the American Civil War, it’s great to suddenly stumble across the text of important pieces of legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1866, or to learn esoteric bits of historic trivia, such as Congress granting free postage for life to Mary Todd Lincoln after the assassination of her husband.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I can play three musical instruments, which are (from most to least proficient): trombone, piano, and guitar. I also enjoy running (particularly trail running in Fairfax County on a sunny fall morning) and am looking forward to participating in the Lawyers Have Heart 5K this year, for the second time.