Editor’s note: Post written by Jeff Woodmansee
I recently participated in a written interview for a local profile online piece, and it got me thinking that this would serve as great fodder for this week’s blog post – while most of us thoroughly enjoy our careers and are now used to the language of selling our value to others, what is it about your career that you love? Or, to pose it as it was originally posed to me:
Finish this sentence: My job is awesome because . . .
Below is my answer.
Working for UALR Bowen School of Law, and in the field of law librarianship generally, has been a career path that is not only professionally challenging and fulfilling, but provides me with some amazing opportunities to take on a leadership role in helping to shape the future of legal education. Today, law school officials and recent grads across the nation are being forced to adapt to harsh new economic realities in terms of available jobs and making enough money to pay back student loans. At the same time, rapidly changing technology has completely reshaped how courts function, how citizens access justice, and how we prepare today’s students for the legal profession needs of tomorrow. This is certainly true for the new age of law librarians, who will no longer be viewed as book museum managers existing solely to serve in support roles for others, but are increasingly seen as the experts best suited to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to connecting our digital world to the practice of law. Today, we’re teaching courses focused on online research skills, designing websites, giving presentations at attorney training seminars and forums on legal education, marketing our brand through social media, mentoring students – I could go on and on about how exciting it is to be directly involved in tearing down some outdated stereotypes and serving a more active and visible role at our institutions.
At Bowen, I use a fairly informal approach and try to draw on my background in educational psychology and pedagogy to reach students in a way that enables them to make practical connections between tried-and-true research skills and the countless online resources they are now expected to navigate efficiently. For me, it’s all about being authentic and giving them a wide range of skills that will make them more marketable for that summer law firm clerkship or first job after graduation. Outside of the classroom, my librarian colleagues and I have long served on the front line in fulfilling the school’s mission of increasing “access to justice” for our widely underserved area communities by providing basic legal reference and helping them find legal forms and online information to prepare for court. It’s certainly been enriching to work with such dedicated librarians, to constantly be motivated by our many inspiring students, and to be able assist in the important work of so many outstanding law professors – brilliant legal minds and scholars like Professors Michael Flannery, Rob Steinbuch, Lindsey Gustafson, Sarah Howard Jenkins-Hobbs, Theresa Beiner, and Tom Sullivan, just to name a few, in addition to having my own opportunities to pursue legal scholarship on 1st Amendment issues and public information access litigation.
Finding such professional fulfillment while having just enough flexibility to be able to pursue other goals and have an enjoyable home life with my family have made this the perfect career choice.
What’s your answer? Your job is awesome because…
We RIPS bloggers certainly look forward to your comments!
For more, consult Harvard Law Library’s The Future of Libraries: The Future is Now? Suggested Readings, at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/futurelawlib/Suggested_Readings.
(by Jeff Woodmansee, RIPS Law Librarian Blog Contributor)