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An Interview with Elizabeth Osborne, Legal Reference Librarian

Today’s interview is with Elizabeth Osborne who joined our army of legal reference librarians in March 2018. Enjoy!

Describe your background.

I am originally from central New Jersey and I have also lived in Washington D.C., London, New York, and most recently Virginia Beach.

What is your academic/professional history?

Beth Osborne. Photo by Donna Sokol.

I double majored in Justice and Psychology at American University and earned a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. At both institutions, I worked part time in the law libraries—in the serials department and at the reserves desk, respectively.  After graduating from law school, I worked as a court attorney in Manhattan. A court attorney’s job is heavily focused on legal research and writing, which was an absolute joy for me and the most valuable experience of my career. After relocating to Virginia Beach, I worked as an information specialist at Wahab Public Law Library. The most rewarding part about working at a small public law library is helping self-represented individuals conduct the research necessary to move their cases through the court system. I am currently in the last semester of a master’s degree in information sciences at University of Tennessee, Knoxville and looking forward to graduating this spring.

How would you describe your job to other people? 

I help people find and access the law. I listen to their legal research problems and try to help them discover resources that best answer their questions. A large part of my job involves teaching patrons how to develop research paths, use databases, and “think” about their problem in a way that helps them find solutions. 

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

Working at the Law Library of Congress is an amazing opportunity to take the skills that I developed in the setting of a small public law library to the next level. I love the wide range of legal research questions we receive and the ability to access the vast collection. Sounds like a cliché, but I learn something new every day!

What is an interesting fact that you have learned about the Law Library?

The Law Library still uses a system of pneumatic tubes to transmit requests between the reading room and the closed stacks deep in the bowels of the Madison Building. While most of the materials requests are made using an online form, the tubes are used to request items whenever there are gaps in the electronic system—it’s very “George Jetson!” 

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

In warm weather, I enjoy paddle boarding on the Chesapeake Bay—it is a very peaceful experience to paddle out, just after sunrise, on a vast, flat body of water. 

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