Today’s interview is with Elizabeth Mansfield, a legislative data analyst in the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress.
Describe your background.
I first began working in the information services industry during college as a technical services assistant in my university’s law library. In addition to a library degree, I have an advanced degree in history and have worked as a professional researcher, making reference tool end-user experience near and dear to me. I worked for a commercial data vendor for many years before coming to CRS, which allows me to provide an alternative perspective as we solve data challenges. I have a passion for untangling the question or information need, finding the answer, and providing it in a useable manner.
How would you describe your job to other people?
I work with a team of amazingly talented people who maintain and enhance the country’s repository of congressional data, and help the librarians and researchers who are on the front lines serving Congress. Our work seeks to ensure the Congress.gov website both functions as expected and provides the information needed in a way users can understand.
What is your role in the development of Congress.gov?
As with everyone on the team, I wear a lot of hats. On any given day, I perform data analysis, quality control and troubleshooting, workflow development, customer service, and contribute to special projects.
What is your favorite feature of Congress.gov?
I nerd out looking at old documents, so my work on modernizing and expanding our historical coverage has been a real pleasure. I will be excited when the data collections I have been working on are integrated into the main corpus of the site.
What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the legislative process while working on Congress.gov?
Schoolhouse Rock! was remarkably accurate! In all seriousness, I had not realized how prominent a role rules and procedure play in the legislative process overall.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
In my years working as a professional researcher, I conducted research in all three Library of Congress buildings, so working at CRS is a sort of homecoming for me. When we “return” to the Hill, I will be curious to see how much muscle memory I will have with regard to the tunnels!