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Research & Litigation

Worried about the recent data security breaches at your local department stores? What are the current laws protecting us from identity theft?

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 7:45am

Take a look at our webpage on Massachusetts Laws about Identity Theft by clicking here.

Within that page is the link to the Attorney General’s Guide on Identity Theft for Victims and Consumers.

Do you have a Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library card? If so, you can access the HeinOnline journal database to read the following law journal articles:

·       Cybersecurity in the Payment Card Industry, by Richard Epstein and Thomas P. Brown, 75 University of Chicago Law Review 2008, pages 203 – 224.
·       Government and Private Sector Roles in Providing Information Security in the U.S. Financial Services Industry, by Mark MacCarthy from I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, 8 ISJLP 1 2012-2013, pages 242 - 276.
·       State Responsibility for Cyber Attacks: Competing Standards for a Growing Problem, by Scott J. Shackelford and Richard B. Andres, 42 Georgetown Journal of International Law, 42 Geo. J. Int’l L. pages 971 - 1016, 2010-2011.
Don’t have a Law Library card yet? It’s easy to apply for one at any of our 17 Trial Court Law Libraries. Click here for the link to our locations and hours of operation.Interested in reading some additional articles? These are from the Bloomberg Businessweek’s website: 
Categories: Research & Litigation

Accessing Reading Room Materials During Our Move

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 5:15pm

This is a guest post by Anne Guha, legal information analyst with the Law Library Public Services Division.

As Margaret explained in a previous blog post, recently we have been preparing the Law Library Reading Room, located in Room 201 in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, for a much-needed renovation.  In order to allow the room to be renovated, our staff is in the process of moving Reading Room collections into a temporary space on the Ground Floor of the Madison Building.  This temporary space will be open to the public in mid-October.

Over the next couple of weeks while the move is taking place, there are some items in our Reading Room collection that will be inaccessible until we are settled in the temporary Reading Room.   The majority of the Law Library’s collection, which is in closed stacks, is still retrievable and available during this move. This post describes our policies for accessing Reading Room collections as we complete our transition over the next couple of weeks.  For questions, clarification, or assistance, please feel free to contact the Law Library Reading Room at (202) 707-5080.

Using the Catalog to Identify Reading Room Items

Before visiting the Law Library Reading Room, we recommend that patrons search for the items they are interested in by using our online catalog. Once you have located the record for an item of interest, click “Where to Request” in the upper right-hand corner or scroll down to examine the shaded “Where to Request” area.

Example One: There are two copies available of this item. Copy 1 (marked “RR”) is the Reading Room copy. Copy 2 is located in our closed stacks.


From this area, you will learn which Library of Congress Reading Room services the item (next to “Request in”) and you also will find a list of the copies of that item in our collection, including a call number for each copy.  If you are familiar with our catalog, you’ll know that Law Library items with an “RR” at the end of their call numbers are located in the Reading Room, whereas items without an “RR” are, generally-speaking, located in our closed stacks.  In Example One, above, you can see that “Copy 1″ is located in the Law Library Reading Room because of the “RR” designation in its Call Number, and you can also see that there is an additional copy, “Copy 2″, which is located down in the closed stacks.

Policies for Accessing Reading Room Items During our Move

During our transition, only the Reading Room (“RR”) items that remain in Room 201 at the time of request will be accessible to patrons.   For safety and security reasons, the Law Library Reading Room will not be servicing any Reading Room copies that are in the process of being moved or transitioned.  For “RR” items having an additional copy in our stacks (as in Example One, above), the additional copies can be ordered through ACS as usual for delivery to Room 201.  For “RR” items having only a single Reading Room copy (as in Example Two, below), if these materials have been removed from Room 201 they will not be accessible to the public until our transition into our temporary location on the Ground Floor is complete.

Example Two: There is only one copy available of this item, and it is a Reading Room copy. If this item is still located in Room 201, it will be accessible to patrons. If this
item has been moved, it will not be accessible until our temporary Reading Room is open to the public.


As soon as the temporary Reading Room is cleared for safety and open for business, complete service will resume, and all “RR” items will be retrievable for patrons. If you have interest in an “RR” item in the meantime, we recommend that you call the Law Library Reading Room first at (202) 707-5080 to learn whether that item will be available. We will also provide an update on this blog when our temporary Reading Room opens.

Alternative Options

For items that cannot be serviced during our transition, we refer patrons to other local law libraries that may have the materials they need.  The following is a selective list of law libraries located in the D.C. metro area which are open to members of the public.  Prior to visiting, we recommend that patrons call or review the websites of these libraries to learn their policies, confirm their hours, and see whether the items needed are in their catalogs.  A more complete list of local law libraries is provided on the George Mason Law Library website.

Virginia Public Law Libraries

Arlington County Walter T. McCarthy Law Library
1425 N. Courthouse Rd, Suite 1700, Arlington, VA
(703) 228-7005
Hours: Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 4 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Courthouse (Silver/Orange)

Alexandria Law Library
520 King St., LL34, Alexandria, VA
(703) 746-4077
Hours: Mon-Fri: 9 am-2 pm
Closest Metro Stop:  King Street (Blue/Yellow)

Fairfax County Courthouse Public Law Library
4110 Chain Bridge Rd., Suite 115, Fairfax, VA
(703) 246-2170
Hours: Mon & Thurs: 8 am – 7 pm; Tues, Wed & Fri: 8 am – 4:30 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Vienna-Fairfax-GMU (Orange)  (4.6 miles away)

Maryland Public Law Libraries

Montgomery County Circuit Court Law Library
50 Maryland Ave, Rm 326, Rockville, MD
(240) 777-9120
Hours: Mon – Fri: 8 am – 5:30 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Rockville (Red)

Prince George’s County Law Library
14735 Main Street, Rm M1400, Upper Marlboro, MD
(301) 952-3438
Hours:   8:30 am – 4:30 pm on regular court days

Anne Arundel County Public Law Library
7 Church Circle, Suite 303, Annapolis, MD
(410) 222-1387
Hours: Mon – Fri: 9 am – 4:30 pm

Academic Law Libraries

Pence Law Library (American University Washington College of Law)
4801 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC
(202) 274-4300
Hours: Mon – Fri: 8 am – 8 pm; Sat & Sun: 9 am – 5 pm
Closest Metro Stop:  Tenleytown-AU (Red)

Judge Kathryn J. Dufour Law Library (Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law)
3600 John McCormack Rd., NE, Washington DC
(202) 319-5156
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 7:30 am – 11:45 pm; Fri: 7:30 am – 8:45 pm; Sat: 9 am – 8:45pm; Sun: 9 am – 11:45 pm
Closest Metro Stop:  Brookland-CUA (Red)

George Mason Law Library (George Mason University School of Law)
3301 N Fairfax Dr., Arlington, VA
(703) 993-8100
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 8 am – 11 pm; Fri: 8 am – 10 pm; Sat: 10 am – 10 pm; Sun: 10 am – 11 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Clarendon (Silver/Orange) or Virginia Square-GMU (Silver/Orange)

Charles N. and Hilda H. M. Mason Law Library (U.D.C. Clarke School of Law)
4200 Connecticut Ave, N.W., Washington, DC
(202) 274-7310
Hours: Mon-Fri: 8 am-11 pm; Sat: 10 am-6 pm; Sun: Noon-8 pm
Closest Metro Stop:  Van Ness-UDC (Red)

Howard University Law Library (Howard University Law School)
2929 Van Ness Street, NW, Washington, DC
(202) 806-8045
Hours: Mon – Fri: 7 am – 11 pm; Sat: 9 am – 10 pm; Sun: 11 am – 11 pm
Closest Metro Stop:  Van Ness-UDC (Red)

Categories: Research & Litigation

Researching Norwegian Law Online and in the Library

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 1:53pm

The following is a guest post by Elin Hofverberg, a foreign law research consultant who covers Scandinavian countries at the Law Library of Congress. Elin has previously written about the bicentenary of Norway’s constitution and a boarding school scandal in Sweden for In Custodia Legis.

Storthings Bygningen (i.e., Stortingsbygningen, the Norwegian Parliament Building) Christiania (now Oslo), Norway (between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900). Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,

When I conduct research on Scandinavian jurisdictions here at the Law Library of Congress I am often amazed by how easy it is to access a lot of the material. The country that has really gone above and beyond to make researching its laws easier is Norway.

In 2001, Norway was the first country in Europe to make the online publication of its laws an official version. Now the National Library of Norway is bringing the country’s whole history into the 21st century by working towards digitizing its entire collection, providing free access to any person with a computer and a Norwegian IP address. Soon people in Norway will be able to read these materials on their smartphones while riding the bus to work or drinking their morning coffee!

For the rest of us located outside of Norway, we are still able to access the main sources of Norwegian law for free. All current legislation is available at Of course, it helps to be able to read Norwegian, but thankfully the University of Oslo makes (unofficial) translations of legislation available on its website. You can search in English and, if you just want to browse, clicking search without entering any information will give you a long list of translated acts to go through. Be careful to check that the act you are looking at contains all the amendments – Scandinavian laws are amended quite frequently. It is also great that English summaries and translations of recent Supreme Court cases can be found on the Court’s website.

You might be able to access the National Library of Norway’s collection while sitting here!
Raftsund, Lofoten, Norway (between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900). Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,

Another useful source is the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) website, which has recently made parliamentary material from 1814 to 2001 available online (in Norwegian only). The Norwegian government homepage is also a good starting point for researching laws and regulations and their broader context.

There are also a number of physical resources here at the Law Library that can help you get a better feel for the context of Norwegian legislation. Reading the 1814 independence material online is efficient and handy but the fact that the text has survived 200 years becomes very real when turning the frail pages of a 19th century book. Although I would never dare read it while drinking my morning coffee!

The Library of Congress has several books on the history of the 1814 events:

Resources about the legal relationship between the Scandinavian countries in general include:

Another interesting historic title is: Snorre Sturlasson, Heimskringla; or, the Lives of the Norse Kings (1932). In addition, some of the earliest laws of Norway have been translated into English in a 1935 book that was recently republished in 2008.

In terms of primary legal resources, the Law Library has both current and historic versions of Norway’s legislation: Norges Lover. Copies of the laws from the official gazette, Norsk Lovtidend, are also available to researchers.  Digitized copies of the gazette published after 2001 are provided on the Lovdata website.

There is a guide to online resources for Norwegian legal research on the Law Library’s website as part of the Guide to Law Online. The Law Library has also published a report that discusses the laws related to the massacre that took place in Norway in 2011.

For select Norwegian legal news see the Law Library’s Global Legal Monitor.

Please stop by to use our collection and let us know if you need help finding anything related to Norwegian law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Endangered Species Legislation and the 100th Anniversary of the Death of Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 6:00am
Giant flocks of passenger pigeons, sometimes exceeding three billion birds, once flew over our country. “On September 1, 1914, Martha, the last known Passenger Pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. Her body was frozen into a block of ice and sent to the Smithsonian Institution, where it was skinned, dissected, photographed and mounted.” *
Prior to Martha’s death, individual state legislatures tried to pass laws that might have protected the Passenger Pigeons, to no avail. Subsequent conservation actions and federal legislation have made a difference in saving species under threat of extinction.
 In “Saving our Birds”, a meditation on Martha’s death and the extinction of her kind in theNew York Times, John W. Fitzpatrick wrote
“The Endangered Species Act [of 1973] is by far the most powerful piece of environmental legislation ever passed. Today, the act continues to be a source of on-the-ground success — a steadfast reminder that timely conservation pays off . . . On this centenary of Martha’s death, it bears reflection that a strong federal Endangered Species Act would have saved the passenger pigeon a century and a half ago.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal partner responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act. Their website devoted to Endangered Species is a rich source of information for anyone interested in the conservation of species.
Massachusetts has its own Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) in M.G.L. c. 131A, with implementing regulations at 321 CMR 10.00. The Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP), part of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, is responsible for protecting endangered vertebrate and invertebrate animals and native plants and maintaining the official Massachusetts List of Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern Species.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Massachusetts Elections Statistics

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 4:00pm
PD43+ is a searchable database for Massachusetts elections statistics, extracted from the biannual report of voter registration, turnout, and election results put together by the Massachusetts Secretary's Office, also known as Public Document 43.  This website is a great resource for those interested in Massachusetts politics at all levels for accessing election data.  Trying to remember who ran for District Attorney in your county 20 years ago or who ran for Governor of our state 40 years ago?  Want to know how many percentage points a candidate lost by?  Interested in the 2014 Massachusetts primary results of September 9, 2014?

This database allows you to search Federal, State and Local election statistics since 1970, providing a breakdown of vote total by county, town, ward, and even precinct.  Full-text of ballot initiatives and results are available from 1972 to 2012.  You can also run a search by candidate and the website will provide a historial overview of all elections that they have run in, their success rate, and a list of their opponents in those races.

See our webpage, "Massachusetts Law About Elections and Voting."

Remember to Vote in the Election, Tuesday, November 4, 2014.  Polling Hours are 7am until 8pm.  See 2014 State Election Candidates.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Marvel Superheroes almost went to court

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 2:50pm
Legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby was the creator or co-creator (along with the equally famous Stan Lee) of some of Marvel Comics' greatest superheroes, including the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Iron man, the Avengers, X-Men, and more.  However, while Stan Lee was an employee of Marvel Comics, Kirby was treated as a freelance artist, putting him in the legal category of "work for hire", so he did not collect royalties for the work he did, nor does his family collect royalties now on the huge amount of money made from these characters in comics or films. (Jack Kirby died in 1994.)

On September 29th, the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to decide whether or not they would hear the case in which the family of Jack Kirby sued Marvel Comics (now owned by Disney) for compensation for the creations of Jack Kirby.  It was expected to be a landmark case in copyright law.  It will never be heard, because Marvel Comics has settled the case (on September 26th), just days before it might have gone to the Supreme Court Justices.

To read about this, one might consider these articles in the news:
How the Supreme Court and Jack Kirby Could Change Everything
Marvel and Jack Kirby Family Settle Long-Running Legal Dispute.
Marvel & Jack Kirby Heirs Settle Legal Dispute Ahead of Supreme Court Showdown

Wikipedia has information on Jack Kirby's life and career in general.

For information on copyright law, see the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries web page "Law on Copyright".
Categories: Research & Litigation

Crosswalk Courtesy in Massachusetts is Also the Law

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Sat, 09/27/2014 - 9:00am
General law chapter 89, section 11 lays out the law on crosswalks absent traffic signals. If a motorist is approaching a crosswalk, pedestrians have the right of way if they are in the path of a motorist or if they are within 10 feet of the half way point in the road. Motorists are not allowed to pass a vehicle that has yielded the right of way to a pedestrian, nor are they to block a crosswalk. If a pedestrian is injured by a motorist in a marked crosswalk, an investigation will be conducted, and if deemed appropriate, civil or criminal violations will result in a citation, or even a criminal complaint. Fines are not to exceed $200. If you break the law, you can face serious consequences.

For a refresher on Laws of the Road, download the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Drivers Manual.  
Categories: Research & Litigation

Suffolk District Attorney's Office Introduces Indy, a Golden Retriever and Labrador Mix

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Sat, 09/27/2014 - 8:30am
District Attorney Daniel Conley recently introduced Indy, a facility dog trained to offer stress relief to people in emotional turmoil.  Indy plans to work at least four years in Suffolk County.  Unlike service animals trained to aid one person with the activities of daily living, Indy has been trained by Canine Companions to encourage calm and security to a succession of strangers in tense situations.  The hope is that witnesses and victims may be better able to undergo stressful interviews after interacting with Indy.
Categories: Research & Litigation Removing the Beta Label and New Enhancements

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 2:59pm

The Library of Congress launched in beta two years ago.  Today, I’m happy to announce we officially removed the beta label. That’s roughly three years quicker than Gmail took to remove its beta label, but we won’t give you the option of putting it back on  URLs that include will be redirected to

There are a range of new enhancements in this release.  One of the exciting additions is a new Resources section.  This section provides an A-to-Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress.  If you are not sure where something is located, try looking through this list.  I quickly jump through the list using Ctrl+F and searching.  You can find the new Resources page in the navigation on the top right or in the footer on every page.  Check it out and leave a comment below. Resources

With our February update, we added Browse and Advanced Search.  Both of those have been improved with today’s release.  You can now browse a list of bills sponsored and cosponsored by all Representatives or Senators.  There’s also a great days in session calendar view which links directly to each day’s Congressional Record.  Instead of focusing on just one Congress, you now have the option to browse across all Congresses.  The Advanced Search has improved with more than thirty new fields available to construct increasingly detailed and intricate searches that you can then save.

The LIVE icon appears when a committee is streaming.

Most-Viewed Bills on

The popular Top Ten on THOMAS has now morphed into the Most Viewed on We’ve had the three most-viewed bills on our homepage since the site launched but now there is an expanded view with an archive going back to late July.

House Committee hearings and meetings are now available to watch live on  An icon appears next to each committee that is broadcasting. Archived videos going back to January 2012 are available to view and are listed by date.

We really value the feedback that we receive about Whether it is a comment on this blog, via the feedback form, or a tweet, we read them all. One of the items suggested was to have a page where you can quickly see what is in each tab. With this release, there is now a link to “All Bill Information (Except Text)” from legislation, which provides a list of the summary, major actions, all actions, titles, subjects, cosponsors, committees, and related bills.

All of these build upon those featured in our June release when we added nominations, accounts, and saved searches. Robert once again updated the enhancement page for this release to include:

September 2014

New feature – Resources

  • Resources enhances the accessibility and comprehension of content through a variety of information curated by information professionals at the Library of Congress.
  • The new section features enhanced access to the top-ten most viewed bills, as well as an archive.

New Feature – House Committee Hearing Videos

  • The House Committee video live streams and archives are now available in They may be accessed through a landing page and through Committee profile pages.

Improvement – Advanced Search:

  • The new advanced search adds support for a number of additional fields, including nominations, Congressional Record, and member. Additional legislative fields are also supported.
  • The bioguide ID available when searching member fields and the committee ID is now supported when searching committee fields.
  • Advanced search now defaults to two open advanced search “lines.”
  • A search of legislation now defaults to the current Congress.

Improvement – Browse:

  • The Browse page has been restructured.
  • You may now search across all Congresses in Browse.
  • New reports and tables are available to display:
    • Bill by Sponsor/Cosponsor
    • Days in Session Calendar
    • Roll Call Votes

Miscellaneous Improvements:

  • The bill type is now a multi-select facet.
  • A “view all” version of the bill detail page is available.
  • Member profile page urls support the bioguide ID.
  • Committee profile pages include a Committee facet.

Just because the beta label has been removed doesn’t mean we will not still be hard at work updating the website.  We have a plan for new features and enhancements to launch throughout the next year and beyond. works great on all platforms and devices!

Categories: Research & Litigation

Thinking of Assisted Living

Massachsuetts Trial Court Law Library - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 7:30am
The intention of assisted living facilities is to offer adults who may need some help with activities such as housecleaning and meals to live on their own.  The underlying philosophy of assisted living is based on providing needed services to residents in a way that enhances their autonomy, privacy and individuality.  

The Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs offers a wealth of information to assist you in deciding whether assisted living is the right option for you or your family member in choosing the most appropriate residence.   Massachusetts considers the facilities similar to apartment living rather than a long-term care nursing facilities. 

Prior to making a decision to move into a facility, a prospective resident is giving the Assisted Living in Massachusetts: A Consumer’s Guide.  The guide includes questions and answers and other helpful information about costs, the residency agreement or contract, the disclosure of rights and services, staffing and services, activities, Special Care Residences, and more. There is also a “consumer checklist” for you to use when you visit a facility. has additional information including the affordability of assisted living, eligibility, benefits, and so much more.   
Choosing the Best Long-Term Care Option, a publication provided by the Attorney General outlines the options available including questions to ask a potential caregiver.
Categories: Research & Litigation

Magna Carta Event Celebrates Constitution Day

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 10:27am

The following is a guest post by Liah Caravalho, program specialist with the Office of Legislative and External Relations at the Law Library of Congress.

The Law Library hosted Yale Law School constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar in commemoration of Constitution Day on Tuesday, September 16. Professor Amar’s lecture, “Magna Carta and the United States Constitution,” celebrated the signing of the United States Constitution 227 years ago on Sept. 17, 1787 and served as the third lecture in the Magna Carta lecture series.

Professor Akhil Reed Amar gives the 2014 Constitution Day Lecture. Photo Source: Amanda Reynolds.

The lecture highlighted the ways in which the United States Constitution has drawn upon and broken with English constitutional precursors such as Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights of 1689 and the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679. Professor Amar also gave a captivating account of how the United States Constitution evolved through the reconstruction amendments and later political movements such as women’s suffrage.

Professor Amar began his remarks by describing the unprecedented transformation that resulted from the drafting of the Constitution. We received the promise of freedom, self-governance and the open invitation of ordinary men to voice their opinions through freedom of speech and voter participation. All of these freedoms were granted at a time when monarchical governments ruled many other nations. As he stated “[f]ree speech is baked into our constitutional cake, unwritten, but it is part of the very process by which, We the People of the United States, in this year [1787] that changed everything, did ordain and establish the Constitution, even before it is textualized in the first amendment.”

The original Constitution was revolutionary for the times, but Professor Amar also pointed out that it was “conciliatory toward slavery” by counting slaves as three-fifths of a person, which allowed Southern States to gain more power in the House and Electoral College. He reminded the audience that Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase “all men are created equal” for the Declaration of Independence and that phrase did not appear in the Constitution until President Lincoln reinterpreted the language to abolish slavery with the 13th amendment.

Professor Amar also argued that later generations continue to reinterpret the Constitution through the prism of later constitutional amendments. Women suffragists, for example, would include women in Lincoln’s reinterpretation of “all men are created equal” to bolster their movement. Similarly, he described how this tradition of interpretation and even misinterpretation extends back to Magna Carta because later generations believe Magna Carta is about trial by jury. He argued that Magna Carta in 1215 was not about trial by jury as we know it because “peers” referred to lords and barons only and not the guarantee of the right to due process of law for ordinary men.

Professor Amar concluded his lecture stating that “today we are the product of many generations of constitutional advancement,” so perhaps it does not matter if Jefferson did not really mean “all men are created equal” or if Magna Carta did not truly represent trial by jury in 1215 because later generations were inspired to redefine their meaning. According to Professor Amar, what really matters is an understanding of our history and a realization that our Constitution has evolved as “We the People” have evolved.  Our Constitution is both written and unwritten – the unwritten part is a reflection of how we act and what we believe as a nation. We get to decide what constitution we will give to future generations.

The exhibition “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor” will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the first issuance of Magna Carta. Opening November 6, 2014 and running through January 19, 2015, the 10-week exhibition will feature the Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta, one of four remaining originals from 1215, along with other rare materials from the Library’s rich collections to tell the story of Magna Carta’s influence on the history of the rule of law. 

The Magna Carta lecture series is co-sponsored by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress.

Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Everett Wiggins, Metadata Technician

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 9:59am

This week’s interview is with Everett Wiggins, a metadata technician here at the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background.

I am the oldest of three siblings, born and raised in rural mid- Michigan, where people generally either make corn flakes or cars. It was an idyllic childhood, full of books and open space to explore. I played piano, trumpet, and percussion during high school.

What is your academic/professional history?

I am a librarian, not a lawyer, and I’ve worked with information my entire life. I finished a Masters’ in English at Indiana State University, then spent ten years working in bookstores before realizing that I should be a librarian. After finishing that degree at the University of Michigan, my wife decided to pursue a Ph.D. at Syracuse University.

While in Syracuse, I worked as a reference librarian for Hiscock & Barclay, LLP, a two-hundred attorney firm with ten offices. I have also worked in both public and academic libraries (and at the Baseball Hall of Fame library for a summer), and for database providers.

How would you describe your job to other people?

Unless the law is freely available, we can’t be expected to know and obey it. I help put old laws online by providing the descriptive keywords to make them findable. It isn’t glamourous work, but it is important that we be able to read and understand our history and the laws that govern us.

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

Really? It’s the Library of Congress, our National library and one of the best libraries in the world. The Law Library collections have helped rebuild the law after disasters in other countries; they inform Congress; they provide resources and assistance for scholars from around the world. As a librarian, my goal is to connect people with the information they need. I can’t think of a better place to be for doing that.

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

Since 2010, there have been over one hundred and forty interviews for In Custodia Legis. More than half of them found the extensive non-English collections (about half of the Law Library holdings) surprising.  What surprised me, though, was seeing so many different ways to say the same thing. We have an amazing staff here–none of them expressed this in the same way!

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

If you see me at home, I’m probably wearing a kilt.

Categories: Research & Litigation


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