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An Interview with Lourdes Johnson, Herencia Crowdsourcing Intern

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

Today’s interview is with Lourdes Johnson, an intern working on transcribing the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign at the Law Library of Congress. She will be a panelist in our upcoming Lunch & Learn Webinar: A Conversation with the Herencia Crowdsourcing Interns

Describe your background

I was born and raised in the city of Lima, Peru, in South America. I worked for multinational companies as a bilingual human resources assistant and an executive assistant for the customer service division. I married my husband from Minnesota, moved to the U.S., and fell in love with the field of library and information science. I wanted to pursue a master of library and information science (MLIS) graduate degree. However, I did not even have an undergraduate degree back then. While earning a bachelor of science degree in management of information systems and raising a child, I worked part-time as a library assistant, library aide, library page, and library clerk for public and school district libraries. I also volunteered as a library assistant at my daughter’s elementary and middle schools.

By the time my daughter became a teenager, I had become a full-time graduate student. I graduated with an MLIS degree and a digital assets management post-graduate certificate from San Jose State University. I have enjoyed working with Hispanic early readers, and I feel very passionate about reaching out to diverse communities, especially those facing barriers to access vital information resources due to socioeconomic inequities.

What is your academic/professional history?

After receiving my MLIS degree, I applied for fellowships. The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities invited me to intern as a preservation science fellow for the Preservation Science and Testing Division at the Library of Congress. I learned about building controlled vocabularies using linked open data authority files. Later, I applied to the Herencia crowdsourcing remote internship, and I am fortunate to intern at the Law Library of Congress.

My goal is to work for a repository as a digital archivist or digital collections manager librarian. I am particularly interested in managing Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives and collections.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I am one of seven interns collaborating on the Herencia crowdsourcing campaign. Crowdsourcing is one of the most fun ways to engage with diverse communities while increasing visibility and access to unique collections. One of my primary responsibilities is transcribing, reviewing, and approving digitized documents written in ancient Latin, Catalan, and Spanish from the 1300s to the 1700s. By participating in the reviewing and transcribing process, I have learned interesting facts about Spain‘s medieval times. Transcribing is critical to generating metadata so users can find information from the collection. The transcription review and approval process are peer-reviewed to ensure quality control, consistency, and accuracy.

I am also part of the Events and Communications team, charged with planning the Herencia collection promotion via digital marketing, social media campaigns, and virtual hosting of transcribe-a-thons. We will be hosting the Herencia Review Challenge pretty soon!

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

The Library of Congress is the leading cultural heritage institution committed to expanding access to its collections worldwide. Having the opportunity to work for the Library of Congress certainly is a dream come true for an early-career librarian-archivist interested in getting involved in initiatives to enhance access to digital resources. I feel fortunate to have interned at the Preservation Science and Testing Division and currently at the Law Library. I cataloged resources using linked open data authority files and structured data to generate datasets available to the public. Working with the Herencia project makes me connect the dots: We are in exciting and challenging times where digital humanities and digital history researchers use computational methods to extract data from primary sources. After my internship, I look forward to assisting communities interested in working with public data.

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

I learned that the Law Library holds the most extensive legal collection globally, and there is a significant amount of ancient historical material in diverse foreign languages.

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

I enjoy sewing my garments. I am lately into Japanese sewing patterns, and I have to sew with vintage sewing machines. I love mechanical sewing machines from the forties and fifties.

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