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An Interview with Aranza Obscura, Herencia Crowdsourcing Intern

Aranza Obscura, an intern working on transcribing the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign. [Photo provided by Aranza Obscura]

Today’s interview is with Aranza Obscura, an intern working on transcribing the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign at the Law Library of Congress

Describe your background.

I was born in Mexico City and grew up in a border town called Laredo in South Texas. Being steeped in both Mexican and American values allowed me to move between both cultures and gain significant cultural awareness. This has driven my love for traveling and language learning. During my free time, I enjoy running and hiking. Additionally, I do volunteer work as a mentor to the local youth, because I strive to encourage students to identify opportunities and overcome barriers so that they can learn about and experience the world firsthand, even if at first it seems like more than they can handle.

What is your academic/professional history?

I am a first-generation student in the last semester of my undergraduate career in English and communications at Texas A&M International University. Throughout my collegiate years, I engaged in many campus organizations that ranged from doing community service work to being a student ambassador to international students. I was thankful to intern at the Library of Congress during the summer of 2020 through the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Since this was my first time experiencing the Library of Congress first-hand, I had no idea of the plethora of resources available to the public, along with the amazing career opportunities. While interning at the Library of Congress, I found out about the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign and was able to transcribe and review pages during a challenge. Once the time came to look for another internship, I thought it fitting to apply given that I wanted to learn more about Spanish history and culture from an academic point of view. Moreover, I plan on utilizing the skills acquired in this internship to prepare me for a career in public service and public affairs.

How would you describe your job to other people?

My duty is to analyze and research a previously unexplored collection of historic Spanish documents that holds much potential for academic discoveries. My tasks range from transcribing and reviewing Spanish documents to presenting research findings in order to highlight the Law Library’s collection.

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

My goal was to work at the Library of Congress because of the immense learning opportunities available in this cultural institution. Additionally, I think it is fascinating that through my internship, I can contribute to the Library’s mission of providing the world access to rich and diverse collections that feed intellectual endeavors.

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

A significantly interesting fact I learned about the Law Library of Congress is when the Taliban were removed from power in Afghanistan in 2001, most legal acts that were in effect before Taliban rule and Soviet occupation were only available at the Law Library of Congress and the Law Library was able to provide immediate assistance to the U.S. State Department in sending the documents to the Afghan government. Also, that the Law Library of Congress holds Russian legal materials from even before the Soviet Union, including approximately 1,300 volumes from the personal collections of Russian Tsars.

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

I am an ice cream connoisseur. A personal accomplishment has definitely been the fact that I have eaten ice cream in 20 countries.

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