For its “Staff Snapshots” series, State Legislatures News is asking legislative staff about their role in the legislature. If you’d like to suggest a staffer for this series, please email Holly South at NCSL.
Joel Rudnick is a legislative librarian with the Delaware General Assembly, where he has served for a year and a half.
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
I feel like this position at the Delaware General Assembly found me rather than me finding it. Four different people in my life reached out to me upon seeing the posting. They all knew I was looking and thought this was a good fit. I met three of those people while sitting on the executive board of the Delaware Library Association, as well as its Legislative Action Committee. Getting the job was one of the many, many benefits I received from my involvement with those groups—including meeting fantastic people with many gifts.
That said, I fit in here culturally, intellectually, and emotionally. I work with enthusiastic, intelligent people. We all use our considerable gifts to offer nonpartisan drafting, research, publication or administration. I knew upon speaking with my interviewers that this was the job for me. They’re wonderful.
What skill or talent are you most proud of?
I am creative. Very much so. The facet of this I am especially proud of is my ability to create music. I play guitar. I tell people I am good, and they don’t think much of it—many guitarists, even most, say they’re good. After I play for them, I get more serious attention.
I also use my creativity to be funny, think outside the box and generally imagine. It can be fun and neat but also exhausting!
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
“Pay attention.” It’s all here.
Who or what inspires you?
Paying attention. Seeing compassion in others. Learning from myself and others. It’s something to take in and breathe out. I can get wrapped in myself. I am prone to grandiosity, and others help me to (sometimes) see it is not about me. Life goes on, even if I don’t.
What’s one thing you love about your state?
My favorite thing in it now is Blackbird State Forest. The park system falls under the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. The state forests fall under the Department of Agriculture. There are only three, one for each county. (Yes, Delaware has only three counties!) Blackbird is a hop, skip and a jump from my living space.
It seems to me that the forest is deeper than many of the parks I have been to, though not all. Less automobile noise in the background. More owl and other bird sounds. More insects humming. I have a reading bench. I really like it, and the stillness I sometimes find there.
What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?
I am almost finished with “The Portrait of a Lady,” by Henry James. The author has a good command of language; full characters; and a sense of the how one’s choices, the choices of others, and one’s role in the culture can make or break a person. I can’t quite process the language sometimes. Part of that is my inability to take in the intricacy and the old-timey vocabulary. I honestly think my edition is poorly edited, though!
OK, one of my co-workers, Jeff Chubbs, turned me on to Spotify recently. I am a little behind the times here, I know. I am in love with the idea that I can listen to a group’s entire discography: two bands I have explored on Spotify so far to a large degree: Queen and ELO. I have especially given attention to Queen. There is nothing else like them. They are like proto-heavy metal, if that genre was utterly positive and enthusiastic, while its creators also had a penchant for show tunes.
I am watching “Star Trek: Discovery” at the behest of my director, Mark Cutrona. I am on the second season. I love the main character, Michael Burnham. She is strong and trying to find her way with people very different from her. Every “Star Trek” has such a person: Spock, Data, Odo, Tuvok, T’Pol. Other than that, it is not really “Star Trek.” Maybe “Star Wars.” There are definitely worse things to be like.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.