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Library of Congress Announces New General Counsel

Release Date: 16 Dec 2022


Dec. 16, 2022

Media Contact: William Ryan,

Library of Congress Announces New General Counsel

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced today that Margaret Williams will become General Counsel of the Library of Congress effective New Year’s Day. Williams has been at the Library for 35 years, serving most recently as Deputy General Counsel. She succeeds Elizabeth Pugh who will retire on December 31, after a distinguished 44-year career with the federal government including 22 years at the Library.

“Elizabeth has assembled and led an amazing team in the Office of General Counsel, including her Deputy General Counsel, Margaret Williams. I am exceedingly pleased to appoint Meg as General Counsel,” Hayden said. “For the past 35 years, Meg has done an extraordinary job of keeping the Library humming. Most recently, Meg led the legal work behind the Library’s COVID-19 response and conversion to a hybrid workforce. I am thrilled to be able to appoint such a strong successor to Elizabeth and I look forward to continuing to work closely with Meg in her new role.”

Williams has been at the Library for 35 years. She attended the University of Virginia, and after receiving an MSLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joined the Library’s FEDLINK program. There, she taught librarians in federal agencies how to use the Online Computer Library Center system for cataloging and interlibrary loan. Later, she worked with Library management to design and implement new accounting and contracting systems for the program and coordinated FEDLINK contracts to acquire online services, books, serials, and other library support services.

After receiving a JD from George Mason University, Williams joined the Office of General Counsel in 1998, becoming the Library’s first Deputy General Counsel in 2015. Highlights of her legal career have included contracting, grants and fiscal law work on contracting processes, revolving funds and the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. She has also worked on the Teaching with Primary Sources program, fundraising, the National Collection Stewardship Fund, sequestration and other challenging fiscal issues, acquisition of the Waldseemüller map and Carta Marina and the Library-wide ethics program, including ethics training and

Williams’ other key contributions included working with legislative branch colleagues and the Packard Humanities Institute to construct and outfit the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center and relocate staff there and the merger of the Library police force into the U.S Capitol Police. Williams has also led the effort to reclassify and update the Library of Congress Regulations system, developed legislation to benefit the Library and worked with the Library’s labor unions and management on issues of concern to all staff such as COVID-19, telework and ways to make the Library more effective and to expand opportunities for everyone.

Regarding Pugh’s service to the Library, Hayden noted, “Elizabeth has been so much more than a lawyer for the Library. For two decades, she has been a leader and trusted confidante. She has worked behind the scenes to bring the Library into the 21st century. We wish Elizabeth all the best in her future endeavors.”

Pugh began her legal career as an attorney with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Education. She then moved to the Department of Justice, where she held positions of increasing responsibility as a litigator and manager. Immediately prior to joining the Library, Pugh worked as General Counsel of the National Archives, where she was instrumental in opening the Nixon tapes to the public. Pugh has a BA in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, an MA in Higher Education Administration from the Ohio State University, and a JD from Cleveland Marshall College of Law. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Cleveland State University for her public service, and gave a TEDX talk about it. A former Secretary, Treasurer, and President of the Capitol Hill chapter of the Federal Bar Association, she has served on the National Advisory Board for Cleveland Marshall College of Law, the Women’s Advisory Board for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, and the Board of the Wildcat Conservation Legal Aid Society. She has also volunteered as an interpreter at the National Zoo.

Pugh’s personal career highlights at the Library are the Rosa Parks Collection acquisition, where she worked closely with donor Howard G. Buffett’s personal attorney, and the acquisition of the Waldseemüller Map, which culminated in a ceremony where Angela Merkel personally transferred the map to the people of America. Over her decades of service, Pugh has overseen legal support for every aspect of the Library’s operations, from acquisitions to procurement to legislation to facilities to litigation. She has been a key advisor on the numerous reorganizations in the Library and all the stages of transformation to the digital library of the future.

Pugh’s commitment to strengthening the Library has reached far beyond legal work in the Office of General Counsel. In addition to long service as an advisor to the Executive Committee and other senior management roles, she has supported service units by having Office staff work on details, inaugurated a “Law To Go” training series for the entire Library staff, and established an ongoing brown bag lunch series for the hundred or so attorneys working throughout the Library. During her time at the Library, she has also been instrumental in building collaborations with other federal agencies, including creation of General Counsel groups for Legislative Branch and federal cultural agency General Counsel, active participation in the federal General Counsel Exchange, and  establishment of a long-running series of collaborative meetings between federal agency lawyers and librarians.She also volunteers as a staff docent for the Library, leading tours for judges, attorneys, and federal officials.

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PR 22-121
ISSN 0731-3527

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