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An Interview with Theresa Reiss, Legal Reference Librarian

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The following is an interview with Theresa Reiss, who is currently working at the Law Library of Congress as a reference librarian in the Law Library Reading Room.

Theresa Reiss standing in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress.
Theresa Reiss / Photo by Donna Sokol

Describe your background

I am originally from Scottsdale, Arizona. But during my adult life, I have lived in Arizona, California, Illinois, and Virginia. I am a part-time legal reference librarian with the Law Library.  I am also the operations supervisor of the Alexandria Law Library, a branch of the public library in Alexandria, Virginia.

What is your academic/professional history?

I graduated from Arizona State University with dual degrees in English literature and philosophy as well as a certificate in ethics. Subsequently, I attended law school at the University of Illinois College of Law.  After three grueling winters in the Midwest, I decided to sit for the California bar exam and moved to San Diego.  In California, I practiced insurance coverage litigation as well as civil defense litigation.

To satisfy a nagging itch to pursue law librarianship, I took a position as the operations supervisor of the Alexandria Law Library.  Two months later, I began the Master of  Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS) program at Catholic University of America.  I began working at the Law Library during my last week of my MSLIS program.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I tell people I split my time between teaching and learning.  I empower others by guiding them through their legal and legislative research.  Simultaneously, I have the opportunity to learn constantly from my colleagues, my patrons, and my own research.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

It may sound like a cliché, but working at the Library of Congress was a dream for me.  When I began working at the Alexandria Law Library, I quickly took note of how often I referred patrons to the Law Library. I am not ashamed to admit I was envious of the Law Library’s massive collection.  So, I jumped at the opportunity to work here.

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

I am astounded at how many hidden treasures are available in the Law Library’s collection of 2.9 million volumes.

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

I have a voracious appetite.  I once ate an entire cookie cake for a video submission to the television show, Man v. Food Nation.

Comments (2)

  1. Hi Theresa, i am currently in litigation 16-cv-11996GAO and looking for any lawful reason for splitting a note from a mortgage. if any such reason exists could you point me in the rite direction ? Respectfully, Michael

    • Thank you for your comment. The staff of the Law Library of Congress is unable to provide advice on specific legal issues and problems, or to conduct legal research for correspondents. If you have a specific legal reference question we invite you to submit it through our AskaLibrarian link, which is at

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