Mule Tennis Player Spends Summer in Library (of Congress)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
 

After spending uncountable hours reading, studying and doing research there during the academic year, the last thing most college students want to do during the summer is go to the library. But not Andrew Brod – he spent almost his entire summer in the library, doing more reading, studying and research.

Brod is a rising senior and a member of the Muhlenberg tennis team, and this summer he concerned himself with courts of a different kind. He recently completed a 10-week internship at the Library of Congress through the

Andrew Brod with Senator Bob Casey
Brod with Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania at a constituent breakfast.
Library’s Junior Fellows Summer Internship Program. According to the LOC website, “Working under the direction of Library curators and specialists in various divisions, interns explore and increase access to the institution’s unparalleled collections and resources.”

One of 42 Junior Fellows selected from more than 700 applicants, Brod was assigned to the Law Library (his first choice). Brod interned with then-Senator Arlen Specter last summer, and after talking to the many staffers with law degrees, he sought a government internship tied to public service and, specifically, law. “This fit perfectly and I was thrilled when I got it,” he said.

Although Brod passed by the LOC every day last summer, and even went in a few times, he came out of this summer with a much better understanding of how it operates. “The size and volume of material there is incredible. There’s so much to explore and for people to use,” he said. “It’s so extensive that it’s undiscoverable.”

It’s a little less so now, thanks to the work of Brod and the other Junior Fellows. He spent his time alternating between two tasks – logging United States Court of Appeals records and processing legal gazettes from around the world. Although the work itself could be extremely tedious, it led to some interesting discoveries and culminated in a fulfilling presentation.

Working in the basement of the Madison Building, one of three that house the LOC in the

Andrew Brod with boxes of recarods and briefs
Brod and Danny Sirdofsky, a Junior Fellow from the University of Michigan Law School, with some light reading.
Southeast quadrant of Washington, Brod tackled the law stacks, what he described as a “football field in length of nothing but law documents.

“All of them are organized in storage, but they are not linked to anything and not accessible to anyone who might need them,” he said. “My job was to make them accessible by docketing them into this computer system.”

Specifically, Brod worked on cases from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the largest of the 13 federal appellate courts. “I did probably 5,000 of those briefs, and there were two other Junior Fellows in the Law Library, so between us we logged close to 15,000 briefs in 10 weeks,” Brod said.

After the briefs were logged, they were shipped out of the LOC to a storage facility at Fort Meade to free up space for even more incoming briefs.

For the gazettes, Brod had to compare the incomplete holdings of the LOC Law Library with a collection provided by the United Nations, filling in the holes so the gazettes could be put into bound volumes. That often entailed spending hours in the microfilm room, trying to match up years and differentiating between main gazettes and supplemental gazettes.

Sound boring? They made things a little more interesting for Brod by assigning him Japanese gazettes. “I can’t read Japanese,” he said. “But I was able to compare the gazettes based on their numbering system and how many pages each one had.”

Brod also worked on legal gazettes from Spain, Portugal, Singapore, Nigeria, Namibia and Israel, to name a few. “It was cool seeing the different formats of the gazettes and the variations among different countries,” he said.

Once, a legal specialist came into the LOC looking for Nigerian gazettes, and Brod, who had just been working on them, was able to provide them. “Right there was an active example of the importance of these gazettes,” he said.

All the while, Brod was looking for interesting “gems” to include in an exhibition the second-to-last week of the internship. Fellows from every division of the LOC had a table with their findings, complete with a display and a PowerPoint presentation. Lawyers, Senators and permanent LOC staff members came in and out all day to discuss the cases with the Junior Fellows.

“It was the most rewarding day of the internship – everything came to life,” said Brod. “I had spent most of my time

Andrew Brod in the law stacks
Brod walking down an aisle of law stacks.
in these law stacks in the basement, and here I really felt like I was connecting with other people who had a mutual interest in what I found. Lawyers were coming up to me and asking thoughtful questions, and I was able to engage with them on what we had discovered.”

To Brod’s delight, he found two cases that merged law and sports (one involving tennis) to include in the presentation. One was Joe Kapp’s antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, which ultimately led to the NFL revising its standard player contract. “It was related to the NFL lockout, so that was perfect,” Brod noted.

The tennis case involved former World No. 1 Ilie Nastase, who was sued by a spectator after a ball struck him in the shoulder. Even though the medical costs were only $13, Nastase was sued for $50,000 in special damages.

Although Brod was shielded from much of the rancorous debt ceiling debate that dominated Washington for most of his time there, the national budget does affect the Library of Congress, and there are fears that significant cuts could jeopardize the future of the Junior Fellows program. And that is something Brod, who plans to attend law school next fall, would hate to see.

“This is such an important program,” he said. “I got the satisfaction of helping to provide information for those who seek it. It was that link between the material in that building and how it gets to the people who need it.

“It was a great experience, and something I thought was very unique.”