Today’s interview is with Carla Davis-Castro. Carla is a librarian who has been working on our Indigenous Law Portal.
Describe your background.
I am a Salvadoran American from North Carolina who loves living in DC. In the year and a half I have been at the Library of Congress, I have moved from the Congressional Research Service to Library Services and now work for the Law Library.
What is your academic/professional history?
I am a product of North Carolina’s public education from beginning to end. I completed my bachelor’s in dramatic art with minors in women’s studies and Native American studies. I have a dual master’s in library science and public administration. I completed these degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My internships at NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) and NMAI (Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian) convinced me that I wanted to work for our federal government.
How would you describe your job to other people?
I work on the Indigenous Law Portal doing research on the legal systems of indigenous communities of Central America. One intern described the research work as being Indiana Jones behind a computer. I also do reference and outreach, answering questions and sharing our work with national and international organizations in the form of emails, publications, conference presentations and posters. I work in a very particular niche that combines my indigenous studies with my native language of Spanish as well as both of my graduate degrees. I am a lucky person because I am the only person in the entire Library of Congress who does what I do.
Why did you want to work in the Library of Congress?
I want to serve a global public at a world class institution. We are respected as a politically neutral entity whose commitment is to enlightenment through knowledge and research. Our breadth and depth allows us to do incredible things. Whether I am doing online research, working with experts, or sharing my work with international librarians at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) conference, for example, or indigenous leaders at the Organization of American States, I am conscious of how privileged I am to represent the Library of Congress.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
I am impressed by the worldwide focus. There are important historical works as well as modern items from every country. Over 400 titles were digitized for the Indigenous Law Portal so the collection includes tribal law, non-western law. The Law Library is truly a treasure trove.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I perform and direct plays in the D.C. area. I have created an artistic activist community for myself and get to use a different part of my brain when I leave work. I love living in D.C. because all facets of me can flourish.
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