Today’s interview is with Iana Fremer, a legal research analyst at the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.
Describe your background
I am from Tbilisi, Georgia (not to be confused with the State of Georgia), one of the oldest countries in the world. Georgia is located between the Black and Caspian seas, and known for being the cradle of wine, part of the Silk Road, and blessed with nine climatic zones with matching flora and fauna, which must be the secret of the unique and famous Georgian cuisine.
What is your academic/professional history?
I received my education in Georgia. I hold a master’s degree in Russian Language and Literature from Tbilisi State University. I have also pursued a doctoral degree in neurolinguistics. I received a master’s degree in journalism and media management from the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management, Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, and have multiple professional certificates from different educational institutions including the most recent one, on business communication from Georgetown University. Notably, my formal education was always led in parallel with my professional activities. It appears that that my professional life was influenced by major events: the collapse of the Soviet Union, formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States, civil wars, economic hardships, fights against corruption and organized crime, foreign invasion, and wars in Georgia and the entire Eurasian region. I have literally lived through “interesting times.”
I joined the Law Library with more than 20 years of experience in journalism, media management, communication, and policy analysis. In the past 22 years, I have worked as a legislative reporter and producer of live analytical and political talk shows. I pioneered legislation on Georgian Public Broadcasting in collaboration with the Legal Issues Committee of the Georgian Parliament, co-founded the first independent regional Russian language TV channel, PIK –TV, and authored multiple programs about politics, economy, security, legal reforms, state building, and the cultural heritage of the Eurasian region. After relocating to the U.S. in 2011, I established and led the Washington bureau of PIK –TV. In the following years, I joined the General Dynamics Corporation where I managed the production of multimedia enhanced digital publications on legal and political developments in Central Asia.
In the modern globalized and interconnected world, many professions have become interlinked. I was eager to switch from journalism, and to contribute my knowledge and experience of Eurasian and Eastern European affairs to the legal field. The Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress proved to be such a dream work place for me, and I greatly appreciate this unique opportunity.
How do you describe your job to other people?
I contribute to legal research projects, reports, Global Legal Monitor articles, presentations, and the writing of bibliographies of legal materials covering 30 jurisdictions in Eurasia and Eastern Europe, which are still in various degrees of legal transition. Understanding the nature of transition requires a multidisciplinary approach, which demands what I would call a “linguo-cultural-historic forensics with legalistic approach.” This approach applies to almost all legal and legislative reference services. I provide research services for educationally and culturally diverse requesters, including members of Congress, the judiciary, government agencies, scholars, academics, the bar, the press, and the general public.
Obtaining accurate information is not always a straightforward exercise, and in order to locate relevant materials in the immense collection of the Library of Congress, I often employ different strategies and search methods. Knowledge of historical context or current political dynamics helps to provide answers to posed questions. National variations with legal terminology creates an additional challenge for me when I need to work with legal texts in the vernacular languages; however, the reliance on official documents allows me to conduct exhaustive research, learn, understand, and explain to Library users the rationale behind certain foreign legal decisions.
Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
According to Lady Margaret Thatcher, the U.S. is a product of philosophy. If this is the case, then the Library of Congress is the kernel of that philosophical wisdom. People often conflate the library with a soulless depository of information. In actuality, however, it is a vibrant and agile institution, which is much more than just a great collection of books or a place dedicated to academic research. The Library of Congress is very much a combination of the institutional memory fused with the brainpower of institutions that create a future of this country. It is a great honor and privilege to work with such a diverse, capable and illustrious team of professionals with vast combined experience, who produce impeccable work individually as well as a unit.
What is the most interesting fact that you’ve learned about the Library?
I discovered that the Library is the largest cultural institution in the nation and its collection in different formats extends to all corners of our planet, historic periods, and fields of knowledge.
What’s something that most of your co-workers don’t know about you?
Being from a family of art collectors and art admirers, I was never a stranger to museums or art galleries. However, nowadays I am more interested in the aesthetic of spaces. Together with theater and good coffee, interior décor has become one of my passions.