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Elizabeth Osborne, image provided by Elizabeth Osborne.

An Interview with Elizabeth Osborne, Chief of the Public Services Division (PSD) of the Law Library of Congress

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Today, we have a follow-up interview with Elizabeth Osborne. Elizabeth was first interviewed in 2018 when she started at the Law Library of Congress as a legal reference librarian. Read Elizabeth’s initial interview here, An Interview with Elizabeth Osborne, Legal Reference Librarian.

Describe your current position.

I am the head of the Public Services Division (PSD) of the Law Library of Congress. I am responsible for the daily operations of the Law Library Reading Room and its staff, librarians, and technicians who perform reference, research, instructional, outreach, and collections services. I have been in this position since January 2023, and prior to that, I worked in the division for about five years.

What are you most proud of that you have worked on at the Library of Congress?

I am most proud of the day-to-day work of my division. We tackle many different legal research and reference requests, from helping someone find information about the landlord-tenant laws in their state to supporting the work of the highest levels of government. I am proud that we help people every day.

What is something interesting you have discovered from working with the Law Library’s print and electronic collections?

I enjoy reading firsthand accounts of law in everyday life. One of the books I have come across is A Widow Against the Courts by Maria Rauth Vaughn. Published in 1939, it is Mrs. Vaughn’s first-person account of her dissatisfaction with the attorneys involved in her claim to her late husband’s estate. Most of the book is comprised of court records, letters, and testimony, together with Mrs. Vaughn’s annotations and selected quotations about the administration of justice. She believed that she had been severely wronged by the legal profession and made it her mission to bring the injustice to light. In her introduction, she wrote, “[t]o the hundreds of lawyers, judges, law schools and law libraries to whom this book will be delivered … it is with the sincere hope that they all may see something of the third side of this ‘case’—that is, the laymen who pay the bills.” I hope Mrs. Vaughn would have a sense of satisfaction to know that her account is preserved and available at the Library of Congress, and still being read today.

What is your favorite Law Library of Congress resource and why?

My current favorite resource from the Law Library of Congress is our online research guides. Our guides cover common research scenarios and most are appropriate for those who have no legal background. We try to prepare research guides that address the questions we frequently receive, such as how to compile a legislative history or how to trace the history of a regulation.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Library of Congress?

I was surprised to learn that the Library has an extensive collection of hair.

What is your favorite legal novel and/or movie?

I would not say I have a favorite “legal novel or movie” but I enjoy a good mystery. When I worked at the Wahab Public Law Library in Virginia Beach, one of the law library patrons recommended the Andy Carpenter mysteries by David Rosenfelt. The series is about a semi-retired attorney from New Jersey who solves mysteries and runs a dog rescue foundation. I love the audiobook versions—the narrator, Grover Gardner, is wonderful and the stories are perfect for long car rides.

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  1. Great interview! All the best, Beth.

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