Last week, fellow Slawyer Kim Nayyer wrote about the launch of the new Congress.gov in Washington. It will eventually incorporate the well-known THOMAS federal legislative information website.
Earlier this week, In Custodia Legis, the blog of the Law Library of Congress, ran an interview with Meg Peters, an Information Architect in its Office of Strategic Initiatives. She is part of the team that designed the new site.
Since October 2010, In Custodia Legis has been running an interview series featuring members of the library staff. There are over 80 interviews in the series so far. The Law Library of Congress is the world’s largest law library, with a collection of over 2.65 million volumes spanning the ages and covering virtually every jurisdiction in the world.
Many of the employees who have been interviewed have fascinating jobs and fascinating stories to tell. For example, one staffer explained a few weeks ago:
(…) Many people think of libraries as dry, uninteresting and on the sidelines of modern life. Perhaps I can use two facts to demonstrate one point: libraries today still provide a vital public service, and that is especially true of the Law Library. Only a few years ago the Law Library played a key role in assisting the Afghan government. The Taliban had destroyed all copies of Afghan official documents, leaving the Karzai government with very little documentation on which to base their legal system. The Law Library had a considerable collection of pre-Taliban legal documents and was thus in a position to help the Karzai government restore its basic legal documents and subsequent precedents developed under the pre-Taliban legal system.
The Law Library also played a similar supporting role in the 1990s. Probably not many people know that Dr. Oleg G. Rumiantsev, who is sometimes referred to as the Russian James Madison [author of the US Bill of Rights and one of the ‘Fathers’ of the US Constitution], used the Law Library’s collection in drafting the new Russian constitution. Dr. Rumiantsev, who was then in the United States, was a frequent visitor to the Law Library and he drew extensively on its legal collection, particularly focusing on examples of constitutions that contained the checks and balances typical in western constitutions.