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Headshot of Public Services Intern, Ali Smith. Photo provided by Ali Smith.

An Interview with Ali Smith, Public Services Intern with the Law Library of Congress

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Today’s interview is with Ali Smith, a public services intern working with Legal Reference Librarian, Olivia Kane-Cruz and Senior Legal Reference Librarian, Ann Hemmens in the Public Services Division of the Law Library of Congress. 

Describe your background.

I was born and continue to live in Baltimore, Maryland. I have two sisters who are dear to me and I am the son of two outstanding parents who are there for me no matter the circumstances. In retrospect, I see that my experiences growing up alongside my friends and family in Baltimore heavily impacted the direction I am going in my academic and professional career. I would not trade a moment of these experiences as they have led me to who I am today.

What is your academic/professional history?

I currently attend Bowie State University, an HBCU in Maryland as a senior history and government major. I thank the Department of History and Government at my university, for they have collaboratively helped to expand my ideals and keep me focused. Under their direction, I have been able to participate in many experiences that I will be forever grateful for. In 2022, I partook in a fellowship with The Center for Strategic and International Studies, which helped lead me into the world of policy. In the same year, I was invited and in attendance at the Public Policy Leadership Conference at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. After these experiences, I chose to work with a non-profit organization focused on youth advocacy within the criminal justice system of Baltimore City (The Choice Program), The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, and now the Library of Congress. Currently, I am also preparing to apply for law school, so please do wish me luck!

How do you describe your job to other people?

I start by asking them if they’ve ever seen a film reel, often used in the 19th-20th century to display cinema. I then tell them to think of that process but on a microscopic level. Within the Law Library, I am working on a project to index a collection of United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Records and Briefs found on microfilm. There is no such index of this unique collection, so I’m very excited to be a member of this pilot program. As a prospective law student, I am happy to say that I have been learning much about the law in my time here at the library. Reading the various legal documents found on the microfilm and attending webinars regarding many different areas of law has been great.

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

I wanted to work at the Library of Congress, specifically the Law Library because I desired to be immersed in the most extensive collection of legal references in the world. I am a firm believer that we tend to end up where we need to be, sometimes without even knowing it until we are there. I am very thankful that the team here in the library accepted me with open arms as this has absolutely been an unforgettable experience.

What is the most interesting fact that you’ve learned about the Library?

If you look at the ceiling of the Jefferson Building Main Reading Room, you will be greeted by the statues of several figures who aim to represent the various branches of knowledge. These include the likes of Plato, Homer, and other memorable names in history. I have always been appreciative of fine architecture and history, so this room and others never fail to amaze me.

What’s something that most of your co-workers don’t know about you?

Many of my coworkers are unaware that I have always been a thrill seeker. In my lifetime, I have gone snowboarding, skydiving, swimming with the dolphins, ziplining in the jungle, parasailing, jet skiing, and much more! I love to travel and try new things.


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Comments (2)

  1. I am impressed with your background and interests and wish you the best (of luck) in your pursuit of a law degree!

  2. Ali’s story is a reminder that postive connections are vital; others have helped you and you in turn help others. Thank you for giving back in your community with youth advocacy in the criminal justice system. Those young people need a good role model like you; once you obtain your law degree your able to do even more to serve.

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