The variety of librarianship jobs held over the years by Alexander Salopek prepared him for his current position at the Supreme Court of the United States. He also credits an introductory course at the iSchool with helping him visualize a "different sort of librarianship" in nontraditional settings.
Where do you work, and what is your role?
I work at the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C. I am the acquisitions/government documents librarian. I supervise the Acquisitions/Government Documents Section, which includes two full-time employees. My work involves the selection, procurement, and payment of the Court’s collection of information resources, both in print and electronic formats.
What do you like best about your job?
My favorite part of my employment is the people I work with.
Why did you decide to pursue a degree in LIS?
I was interested in more professional roles, and I enjoyed the work.
How did the iSchool help you get to where you are today?
Professor Linda Smith's 501 intro course (Information Organization and Access) helped me find a deep enjoyment in working in technical services and thinking about issues and jobs outside of the public images of either the librarian at the reference desk or the rare book librarian surrounded by ancient tomes. By imagining a different sort of librarianship, I was able to find what I am good at and what I enjoy—not just what I thought that I wanted to do or believed I should be good at. By doing what I am both good at and enjoy, I have found a good work/life balance.
What advice would you like to share with iSchool students?
I would tell students to try as many different things as possible. I have worked at several different jobs in librarianship (cataloging maps captured from Nazis, researching banking law at a law firm, finding Russian science articles in a major library depository, and teaching graduate students how to use a discovery service). This eclectic background has prepared me for the challenges that come from working at the Court and has given me a fearlessness when it comes to the profession.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy practicing yoga and cooking Ottolenghi’s recipes. I have been learning to Texas two-step with the DC Rawhides, which has been an experience that makes me feel like a clumsy, uncoordinated, awkward teen. I have been trying to engage more with my Croatian heritage and visit all of our national parks. I also maintain a colorful and varied sock collection.