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An Interview with Cecilia Contreras, Intern with the Digital Resources Division

Today’s interview is with Cecilia Contreras, an Intern in the Digital Resources Division of the Law Library of Congress.

Cecilia Contreras standing alongside a bookshelf.

                                           Cecilia Contreras. Photo by Geraldine Davila Gonzalez

Describe your background.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I come from a rather large family and I am the eldest of four siblings. I have lived my entire life in California and this is my first time on the East Coast.

What is your academic/professional history?

I received a bachelor’s degree in history from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly) in May of 2019. It was near the end of my undergraduate program that I was advised by a professor to apply for a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) internship. With the help of two professors at Cal Poly, I applied and received confirmation of my acceptance to the program within the month of August. On September 9, 2019, I began my first day here at the Law Library. This internship is the first of my professional career.

How would you describe your job to other people?

My job primarily consists of inventorying and providing metadata for a collection of miscellaneous Hispanic legal documents. This collection includes dozens of boxes of printed and handwritten legal documents from Spain and Latin America from the 15th through the 19th centuries. What I have found that I enjoy most is that some of these are preserved moments in time which describe some of the most important events in people’s lives. They are records recounting the baptism of a child, marriage request letters addressed to the Church, and last wills and testaments. They are windows into moments that marked the beginnings and endings of people’s lives hundreds of years ago, and because of this project people will have the chance to read them now in the 21st century.

 Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

My reason for wanting to work at the Law Library lies with the idea that through my work I could contribute to the Library’s efforts to provide accessible information to the public. My role in this project helps move along a process that will eventually lead to the digitization and publication of a collection that provides insight into the legal world of several Hispanic countries. It is a privilege for which I am very grateful.

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

There are a great many things I have learned about the Law Library during my time here. However, I think the most interesting would have to be that the Reading Room must always be open and staffed while Congress is in session, which, in my opinion, only goes to show the level of importance of the Law Library and of the personnel.

What’s something most of your colleagues do not know about you? 

I learned how to drive a car before I learned how to ride a bike, and by “I learned how to ride a bike” I mean I never learned how to ride a bike.

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