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An Interview with Robert MacNeish, Collection Services Intern

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Today’s interview is with Robert MacNeish, an intern working in the Collection Services Division, Law Library of Congress.

Robert MacNeish standing outdoors with the Washington, D.C. skyline in the background.
Photo by Saundra A. Smith McBee

Describe your background.

My name is Robert MacNeish. I am half-American and half-Italian. My mother, who also works for the Library of Congress, is from Sicily and my father is from Florida. I am the middle child between my two sisters, and I’ve spent the majority of my life in Virginia, barring a few exceptional periods. I am multi-lingual, adept in the Spanish, Slovak, and Czech languages. Spanish was learned wholly at my university, and I learned to speak Slovak and Czech while living in Slovakia for two years. During this time I volunteered as a humanitarian service worker and an ecclesiastical minister for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

What is your academic/professional history?

I am a student attending the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia where currently I am working on obtaining my Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations. At UMW I have studied a variety of topics including: geopolitics, economics of developing countries, American foreign policy, security and conflict resolution, European diplomatic history, and politics of Central and Eastern Europe.

Professionally I have worked in a variety of jobs.  Among other things, I have been a sales associate for two companies, a dietary aid worker at a retirement facility, and a substitute teacher for Stafford County Public Schools.

How would you describe your job to other people?

The best way to describe my work is very hands-on. The main project I am working on is the United Nations Gazette Project for the Law Library. If I am not scanning a microfilm roll, you will likely find me in my office hand sorting and organizing hundreds, possibly thousands of gazettes from countries all over the world, dutifully recording new and duplicate items and logs so that the Library’s collection can be updated, and occasionally completed. The work I do is very tactile and progress is physically visible, which is an aspect I enjoy.

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

There are several reasons why I applied to work at the Library of Congress. I love learning about international politics, and working in the Law Library gives me an opportunity to look at and study numerous legal materials that form the basis of international law. The Law Library is my first full-time professional career position, and it is helping me achieve my dream of one day working for the U.S. Department of State.

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

Approximately half of the Library’s book and serial collections are in languages other than English.

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

I love to cook and can make several authentic Italian dishes by hand.

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