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Staff Snapshots | Nathan Elwood

Oct. 14, 2021 | State Legislatures News | Print

Nathan Elwood

Hometown: Eureka, Mo.

Role: Legislative library administrator

Years of legislative service: Two

Skill or talent he’s most proud of: “I have always prided myself on my research skills. We work hard to ensure that, whatever questions come to the library, we provide a rapid turnaround and high-quality information.”


Why did you choose to work at the legislature?

For me, the work offered at the Legislative Library was at the confluence of many of the things I was most passionate about within my field and within my professional areas of study more broadly.

In my previous position at Fort Hays State University, I served as the liaison librarian for the social sciences—sociology, political science, criminal justice, etc. These topics would remain at the forefront of the research work I would do at the Legislature, but now the information I provided would be used as part of the implementation of real-world policy.

I would also be responsible for archival work, historical inquiry and legal research—all topics I had a strong passion for and a desire to explore further but little chance to do so within my previous academic library role.

Additionally, I saw in the Legislative Library a chance to revitalize a service that had been allowed to deteriorate over the years, and to create a modern, efficient information and reference service for our legislators and the citizens of Missouri. Working with a library that, in 2018, still used a physical card catalogue meant that I would essentially be starting from scratch in developing our library services. I am incredibly proud of what we have built in the last three years and look forward to all that we will accomplish in the years ahead.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

As a child, my mother always recommended that I “lie close to the truth.” In high school, a mentor looking over my fiction writing told me “never quit your day job.”  When I went off to college, my father instructed me “never drink before studying.”

I cherish all of these wise words.

Who or what inspires you?

My wife, Vera, is my greatest inspiration, and I’m not just saying that because she’s certain to read this article. Hi, honey!

Vera is also a librarian, and an immensely talented one at that. At every institution she’s worked at she has helped to advance and promote their services in innovative ways. In our last community, for example, after the public school libraries lost funding, Vera developed a partnership with them to house community library books in the school libraries and check them out directly to the students there. In her first year developing the program, she signed up nearly every single middle and high school student in the district with community library cards. She is also a disability advocate who trains librarians nationwide on how to better serve patrons with disabilities and how to reach ADA compliance.

More recently, she founded a mock trial team at her university, Central Methodist University, which she is now coaching into its second season. The team has been recognized statewide and nationally, and some of her first-season students have already gone off to law school after their experience with the team.

Vera motivates me to look at how I can do more, how I can better serve my community in all the things I do.

What’s one thing you love about your state?

Missouri is a gorgeous state with a rich history, so it’s hard for me to choose any one thing, but I have always found a particular joy in hiking along our beautiful bluffs and rivers.

What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?

I recently subscribed to the CuriosityStream streaming service, and I’m enjoying going through the many documentaries available there. I’m also rereading “Wuthering Heights” for the first time since my freshman year of college, and I’m enjoying it much more this time around.

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