This week’s interview is with Seth Brostoff who is working at the Law Library of Congress for several months as an intern describing and creating metadata for a collection of Hispanic Legal Documents that span from the 15th to 19th centuries.
Describe your background.
What is your academic/professional history?
I have an undergraduate degree in economic history from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school, I moved to Wilmington, Delaware. I practiced bankruptcy and corporate law in Delaware for five years. I also have a master’s degree in history from the University of St Andrews.
How would you describe the work you do to other people?
I create metadata descriptions for 15th-19th century legal documents written in Romance languages, including old and modern Castilian, Latin, Catalán, and Aragonese. The Law Library has an impressive collection of legal briefs from early modern Spain, which they will be making accessible online. In order to increase their retrievability, we have to assign subject terms. Assigning subject terms usually requires research, sometimes in the original languages, to verify personal names and party relationships.
Why did you want to work in the Law Library of Congress?
I’m very interested in Spain and Latin America, as well as legal history; so, the project looked exciting.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
The Law Library’s blog has been regularly included in the ABA Journal’s annual list of best law blogs.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I went to high school for one year in the attic of the Library of Congress Jefferson Building. Along with the Senate and Supreme Court, the House of Representatives traditionally employed high school students as pages. The House pages went to a special school on the top floor of the Jefferson Building (which I am told is now the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center).
My congressman appointed me as a page for the 2000-01 school year, but I didn’t spend that much time in the Library because the school day ended at 9:30 or 11:30 a.m., depending on the House’s schedule. The House no longer employs pages, and the page program was discontinued.