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Staff Spotlight: Gabriela Femenia

August 10, 2021

Gabriela Femenia is this month’s staff spotlight! Gabriela has been a Biddle team member since 2009. She is the library’s Associate Director for Collections & Operations.

The Essential Questions

What is your role and how long have you been working at Biddle?

I came to Biddle in 2009 when I graduated from library school. I started as the Foreign, Comparative and International Law Librarian, which included providing research and reference services specializing in foreign and international law, overseeing the foreign and international collection, and teaching advanced legal research classes. I still do all of that, and since 2017 have added oversight of all of Biddle’s collections, including Archives and Rare Books, and I work with our director and the rest of the management team on library operations. 

What has helped you adjust to working from home?

I’m lucky to have a separate home office space, so I can balance work and home life a bit better and have Zoom meetings or record course content behind a closed door. The best self-care item I acquired last year was a hammock stand, so whenever the weather permits I can recharge in my yard.

What book/s are you reading right now?

My most recent reads are Heather McGhee’s The Sum of Us, Agatha Christie’s Death Comes as the End, and Daniel Drezner’s Theories of International Politics and Zombies. I recently picked up an Audible subscription for when I’m walking the dog, and am halfway through Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta’s Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History.

Lightning Round

Cats or dogs?

I love meeting other people’s cats but am a dog person at home, with a particular fondness for herding breeds 

Fiction or non-fiction?

Both at the same time! 

Comedy or horror?

Definitely comedy. The only horror movies I can tolerate are funny ones.

Sweet or savory?

Sweet unless cheese is involved.

Coffee or tea?

Tea. I reserve coffee for when I need a nuclear option, especially around Daylight Saving Time.

Wildcard Qs

Where did you work before your time at Biddle?

I was an intellectual property attorney in San Francisco, then switched to academic administration in international programs at Penn’s GSE before going to library school.

Do you listen to any podcasts? If so, which one/s?

I listen to so many great podcasts on food, history, politics, law, entertainment, and culture. My favorite serious ones are Slate’s Amicus podcast on the Supreme Court, NPR’s Code Switch, Stay Tuned with Preet, A Taste of the Past, and Now & Then with Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman. For fun I like Pop Culture Happy Hour, You’re Wrong About, The Worst Bestsellers, and Hit Parade. As a loyal listener of The Sporkful, I was an early adopter of the amazing new pasta shape Dan Pashman invented.

What is the last television series you binged?

This is Pop on Netflix. It was such a fun retrospective of 90s and early 2000s music, and I always appreciated the talent of Boyz II Men and their importance to Philly, but now I know exactly how robbed they were of their rightful glory.

What is your favorite reference question or most memorable library experience?

One of the reasons I love specializing in foreign and international law is that I so rarely get the same reference question twice. There’s always something new to learn from every reference interaction. One of my most memorable ones wasn’t a foreign question, though. When I was an intern at the University of Washington law library, which was open to the public, I had a patron come in wanting to know how to stop the federal government from sending brainwashing waves through their television. They seemed satisfied when I directed them to the Washington state law encyclopedia’s section on telecommunications law.

What are your passions outside of work?

As anyone who’s worked with me since my early days as a lawyer knows, I bake as one of my main hobbies, and since I don’t want to eat all of it mysself, I bring the baked goods in to share with my coworkers. I have watched every season of Great British Baking Show multiple times and have a major problem with collecting baking cookbooks. My greatest baking achievement so far is mastering laminated dough for croissants and danish, and I want to get puff pastry down. I also acquired a gas-powered pizza oven during quarantine so first I need to perfect my Neopolitan style pizza technique.