April 20, 2018

Bill Sleeman | Movers & Shakers 2007

The Uses of Curiosity


Originally intent on becoming ‘the next Teddy White’ (author of ‘The Making of the President’ series), Bill Sleeman discovered early on that librarianship would allow him as much opportunity as journalism to pursue his curiosity and make a difference in the world.

In his work at the Thurgood Marshall Law Library, Sleeman has a professional interest in keeping government information accessible, but he also has a passionate personal commitment to making sure citizens have the information they need to hold elected leaders accountable and to participate in community government. He’s using his platform as chair of the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) to campaign for unimpeded public access.

Sleeman has been active in building and digitizing collections of ‘unique archival materials that might otherwise have been lost to researchers,’ including the ‘African-Americans in the Law’ project (documenting the development and growth of the African American legal community in Maryland from 1877 to 1977) and Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He’s gratified that the latter ‘has grown into an important research tool in understanding our nation’s efforts to come to grips with all forms of discrimination.’

As part of a team-taught seminar on Maryland’s landmark legal precedents, Sleeman helps students understand current law by studying the working documents behind Maryland’s leading cases. Law professor Garrett Power says Sleeman ‘not only helps the students master the intricacies of web-based research but also deserves credit for the creation of many of the special collections they are using in the Law School’s archive.’

Sleeman says the words on an American Library Association poster featuring Zora Neale Hurston perfectly capture what he enjoys about his work: ‘Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.’




CURRENT POSITION Assistant Director for Technical Services, Thurgood Marshall Law Library, University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore

DEGREES MLS, University of Michigan GSLIS, 1986; MA in Legal and Ethical Studies, University of Baltimore, 1997

WEB SITE www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/usccr/index.asp