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An Interview with Tori Stanek, Remote Metadata Intern

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Today marks the beginning of a new crop of summer interns at the Law Library. We in the Digital Resources Division have had the pleasure of working with 175 interns over the last six years, and this summer we welcome 45 more! Today’s interview is with Tori Stanek, who has worked as a remote metadata intern for the past eight months and will continue to volunteer as a mentor for some of the interns this summer.

Describe your background

I grew up and currently reside in Riverton, Wyoming. I am in the last few weeks of my graduate program and I currently divide my time between school, freelance writing for the local community college marketing department, and working as a public children’s librarian.

What is your academic/professional history?

In anticipation of pursuing a career in information science, I attempted to make my undergraduate knowledge base as broad as possible. I have two associate degrees; one in English and one in health science. My BA is in journalism and dance from the University of Montana in Missoula. I also worked as a legal assistant while applying for graduate school. I am now completing the final quarter of my Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at the University of Washington and will graduate with the quarantined cohort of 2020. Throughout my MLIS career, I completed an internship with Howard University Law Library and multiple projects with the Law Library of Congress.

How would you describe your job to other people?

As an intern for the Law Library of Congress, I create and edit indices for newly digitized historical and legal materials. I append appropriate keywords to document records and derive my own search terms to ensure users can both collocate and differentiate among documents. A big part of my job is ensuring that there is consistency between indexing depth, vocabulary, and formatting. While I’ve worked with a number of document types, I was particularly excited to help provide access to a special volume of the United States Statutes at Large collection that contained Native American treaties. I am fortunate to live in the most diverse county in Wyoming, and I was able to consult with a local Native American studies professor to ensure that I constructed culturally accurate search terms.

I am now in the end stages of my LLC-sponsored capstone project. To complete this, I finalized the records for 10,000+ United States Treaties and International Agreements. I am creating blog posts with annotated charts and I am excited to see this information appear online for the first time. I think it is unbelievably cool that I get to work with information that is not available anywhere else.

Tori Stanek standing and showing off a large shaved ice.
Photo of Tori Stanek by Stacey Stanek in Captain Cook, Hawaii. “On one of my family trips, we were on a hunt for the largest shave ice and this was the winner.”

Why did you want to work in the Library of Congress?

My incredible graduate cataloging course made me appreciate the ethical responsibilities of accurate document representation. I had enough of a background in law to know this was an area of interest for me, and I applied for an internship because it provided a way for me to promote equity at the access point of information. I firmly believe that one can make a difference through provision of legal information, and this internship was my jumping off point.

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

The vastness of the legal collection never ceases to amaze me. In my short time as an intern, I’ve indexed treaties ranging from foreign postal regulations (wherein one can occasionally ship bees and almost always ship leeches) to school lunch program regulations, and everything in between.

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

Even though Wyoming is my home base, I travel a lot, especially thanks to online classes. I was a remote worker before it became the norm! I spent last summer touring libraries across the Netherlands and have completed parts of my grad program from Colorado, Montana, California, Washington, Hawaii, and even Mexico. I also published a children’s book

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