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An Interview with Sarah Friedman, A Presidential Management Fellow at the Law Library of Congress

Today’s interview is with Sarah Friedman, a Presidential Management Fellow working in the Public Services Division at the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

I was born and raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where I was always just a short drive away from the beach and many beautiful coastal New England towns. Growing up, my family fostered my love of books and history with frequent visits to libraries and museums around my hometown. After graduating from law school, I moved to D.C.. One of the best parts of living in the city has been having easy access to the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and other local museums.

What is your academic/professional history?

I earned my undergraduate degree in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and my J.D. from Roger Williams University School of Law. In law school I discovered my interest in fair housing and focused my research, writing, and professional experiences on learning more about the subject. After graduating from law school, I was appointed to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Fair Lending Oversight (FHFA) through the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program. At FHFA I continued pursuing my interest in fair housing while learning all about the mortgage industry and fair lending from a brilliant and passionate team. The PMF Program offers fellows the opportunity to go on a developmental detail during the two-year fellowship, which is what brought me to the Law Library of Congress.

Photo of Sarah Friedman in The Library of Congress great hall

Sarah Friedman. Photo by Kelly Goles.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I am learning the ins and outs of working as a legal reference librarian. I have a background in law and not librarianship, so I am involved in a variety of activities and projects to get to know all of the librarians’ daily functions. My job includes answering patron questions, familiarizing myself with the collection and library resources, and helping with a project to review the library’s collection of biographies for the justices of the Supreme Court.

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

I chose the Law Library of Congress for my PMF detail because I thought it would be a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into the day-to-day work of a law librarian. I admired the incredibly knowledgeable law librarians at my law school and I thought it would be fascinating see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into maintaining a large collection of print and digital materials, assisting patrons, and providing quality educational resources. I have also always loved books and libraries, so it is exciting to get to explore the Library of Congress and learn from so many experienced librarians.

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

I found it interesting that most of the collection is housed in the closed stacks in the enormous sub-basement. It is difficult to imagine what over 2.9 million books looks like until you have seen the seemingly endless rows of shelves.

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

I taught myself to embroider last year. I bought an embroidery kit online as a way to keep busy during the colder months and picked it up pretty quickly. It is detailed work, but I like trying out new stitches and seeing the finished product come together.

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