Questions with Puron: Featured RIPS Member – Andrew Winston, Chief, Public Services Division, Global Legal Research Directorate, Law Library of Congress

Compiled by: Karin Johnsrud

Questions with Puron is an interview series launched by the RIPS PR & Recruitment Committee to highlight the diverse views and professional strategies of the constituents of Research Instruction and Patron Services Special Interest Section (RIPS-SIS). Twice per month, our beloved penguin mascot poses a series of questions to one of the many librarians who make up RIPS. For this installment, Puron talked with Andrew Winston of the Law Library of Congress

Puron: Share your favorite new (or new-to-you) resource for 2020! [could be a website, database, secondary source, anything]

Andrew: My favorite new resource is a new online interactive guide to our law library’s collection of foreign legal gazettes: We have one of the largest collections of official gazettes in the world and are currently collecting from about 175 national jurisdictions and about 100 subnational jurisdictions.  These gazettes are primary sources of law published by governments, including new legislation, regulations, decisions of courts and other bodies, and other official notices. This new guide, developed by our Collection Services Division and Digital Resources Division, enables you to search for information about our holdings of gazettes by jurisdiction, title, content, and format. You can click through to the record in our online catalog for more detailed information (and to request the material for use when visiting our law library) or click through to those titles freely available online. It is a powerful research tool for those seeking primary foreign legal materials.

Puron: What brought you to law libraries?

Andrew: I came to law librarianship after practicing law in large firms.  I went to library school originally intending to return to the world of law firms with a new focus on knowledge management and competitive intelligence.  However, I had the opportunity to perform a practicum at the University of Richmond Law Library during library school, and after that to participate in the Graduate Recruit Program at the Congressional Research Service. Those experiences led me to reconsider my plan, and I went on to positions at the University of Richmond Law Library and the Law Library of Congress. 

Puron: What does instruction look like for you?

Andrew: Instruction for our law library is very much an online experience today! Shortly before the pandemic led us all into a new era of remote work, we had launched a new instructional initiative by starting to develop webinar versions of our in-person research instruction classes for the public. This positioned us well for the new world of telework.  We took the opportunity to expand our webinar program to include web-based versions of all of our legal research classes, and soon after that, we adapted our more in-depth research classes for congressional staff, offered in conjunction with the Congressional Research Service, to a webinar format. Our webinars include lecture-style instruction, in-class exercises, and Q&A from attendees.

In addition to our regular series of classes for the public and Congress, our Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Divisions have also been offering monthly webinars on emerging legal topics in jurisdictions around the world. We also recently launched a new webinar series that focuses on collection items, such as the Serial Set or rare books.

We’re still thinking about what our instruction will look like in the post-COVID era. We plan to keep, and likely expand, our web-based instruction even when we return to onsite classes. What the balance of classes will be, and whether we will end up with a hybrid webinar and in-person approach to instruction, are open questions at this point.

Puron: What was the best vacation you ever took?

Andrew: I really enjoyed a short vacation in Montreal some years ago.  Some might consider it a counterintuitive destination, because it was kind of a spur-of-the-moment trip during the holidays.  A foot of snow fell the day after we arrived.  It was great fun being in a city that is used to dealing with a lot of snow in the winter, because life definitely goes on!  Everyone bundles up and goes about their usual lives.  There is an extensive system of subterranean connections among the various offices, universities, shopping centers, hotels, etc. referred to as the “Underground City,” and it was intriguing to explore a city from that perspective.

Puron: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Andrew: Hiking is a favorite pastime for me. I love spending time in the mountains in the western part of Virginia, but I have a broad view of hiking and enjoy different terrains and landscapes.  For me, a hike can be anywhere: a trip on foot to a part of the city I have never visited can be a perfect “urban hike.”  It’s proved to be a good form of exercise and stress reduction in recent months, too, allowing for fresh air and social distancing.

We hope you enjoyed getting to know Andrew. If you would like to hear from more members, join the conversation on our Twitter RIPS-SIS (@RIPS_SIS) or connect with us on Facebook The PR & Recruitment Committee will also be reaching out to select members for participation in this series. If you would like to be featured, or want to recommend someone, please email Emma Wood at

About malikahhalllibrarian

Malikah Hall is a Reference Librarian and Instructional Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University. She was previously the Diversity Fellow, Research Services Librarian, and Lecturer in Law at Cornell University. Malikah is very active in AALL where she is the current RIPS Law Librarian Blog editor, Immediate Past Chair of PEGA-SIS, a member of the AALL Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and a member of the AALL Legal Research Competencies Review Special Committee. Malikah graduated from North Carolina Central University with a J.D./M.L.S. joint degree. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her sweet dog and anything true crime related.
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