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An Interview with Robert Brammer, Chief of the Office of External Relations of the Law Library of Congress

Today’s follow-up interview is with Robert Brammer. Robert was first interviewed in 2012 when he started at the Law Library of Congress as a legal reference librarian. He is also a blogger for In Custodia Legis, authoring various posts, including: Constitution Day 2020 – “The Bulwark of Freedom”: African-American Members of Congress and the Constitution During Reconstruction and Explore the Bound Congressional Record on Congress.gov.

Robert Brammer seated in an armchair with a wood paneled wall in the background.

Robert Brammer, Chief of the Office of External Relations at the Law Library of Congress [Photo by Shawn Miller]

Describe your current position.
I am the chief of the Office of External Relations. We manage the Law Library’s blog, plan Law Library events, and promote the Law Library’s products and services through social media and direct mailing. I also serve as a subject matter expert for the development of Congress.gov.

What project are you most proud of that you have worked on at the Law Library of Congress?
When I first started at the Law Library of Congress, I worked on writing the legal content for the 1964 Civil Rights Act exhibit. I learned a lot about how much work goes into creating exhibits, and I met activists from the 1960s civil rights movement. It was interesting to see how that act resumed the project of Reconstruction that had been abandoned almost a century before.

What is the most interesting thing you have discovered from working with the Law Library’s print and electronic collections?
I always enjoy the items that Nathan curates in the Rare Book Collection. Nathan and I made some rare book videos to share these items with the patrons who cannot visit us in person. I’ve seen George Washington’s First Acts of Congress, the Trial of Aaron Burr for Treason, a legal writ signed by Abraham Lincoln when he was a traveling lawyer, a book that was used as a manual to try persons accused of witchcraft, a signature on the Articles of Confederation by a founding father who was later imprisoned in the Tower of London, and that’s not to mention all of the medieval manuscripts that the Law Library has.

What is your favorite Law Library of Congress website and why?
I would say Congress.gov. Though the site is the product of work by the Congressional Research Service, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the House and Senate, as well as the Government Publishing Office, the Law Library of Congress is the public face of Congress.gov, answering questions from the public and recommending enhancements based on feedback that we have received from the public. We also host a bi-monthly Congress.gov webinar for the public. I am also enthusiastic about our new Legal Research Institute, which organizes our domestic and foreign law webinar offerings, and hosts recordings of previous webinars.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Library of Congress?
The Library has the contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets from the night he was assassinated at Ford’s Theater. Interestingly enough, the boardinghouse where an abduction of Lincoln was plotted (a scheme that preceded the conspiracy to assassinate him) is now a Chinese restaurant, with karaoke booths upstairs.

What is your favorite legal novel and/or movie?
Ice Harvest, an obscure John Cusack movie about a mob lawyer who steals from his employer, and who then desperately tries to escape Wichita during an ice storm before anyone catches up with him.

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