by Christine Anne George
It’s that time of year. A fresh class of 1Ls enters the hallowed, paper-chased halls of law school. Perhaps it’s due to being hooked on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend or maybe I listened to too many musicals during my move—just kidding, I know there’s no such thing as too much Broadway—but I can’t help but think of the 1L library tours in terms of…well, a show-stopping musical number. I think it would look something like this…
The lights come up on the lobby of a law library. STUDENTS are milling around, looking at their phones, drinking coffee. LIBRARIAN steps out in front of the group. She clears her throat a few times, trying to bring the group to order, yet fails. Miserably.
LIBRARIAN: tentatively as a tune from a certain NSFW hit Broadway musical starts ♫Hello. My name is Christine George. And I would like to share with you the most amazing place.♫
STUDENTS continue to ignore LIBRARIAN.
LIBRARIAN: louder ♫Hello. My name is Christine George. It’s a place with precedents from a long, long time ago.♫ Pauses for acknowledgement and when none comes, but the talking at least stops, continues. ♫It has so many amazing parts. You simply won’t believe how much this place will shape your (study) life.♫ Gestures to the students to follow and starts walking into the stacks and begins to speak. Now if you’ll follow me, we’ll start off in the reference section with some secondary sources.
GUNNER: What’s a secondary source?
The string section swells to a familiar tune that makes the audience think that perhaps LIBRARIAN should have a mask on…maybe a sweeping cape too.
LIBRARIAN: ♫Research memos, dealing with causation.
♫ Attorneys, faculty, want a good foundation.
♫ Seeking out a clue, knowing not what you should do.
♫ A summary of law will set you right.
♫ That overview can lead you to your cite.♫
speaking Now I should mention that while I’m showing you our print materials today, they are available through various databases—
There’s a flash of light and VENDORS appear.
VENDOR IN RED: ♫Anything you can do I can do better!♫
VENDOR IN ORANGE: ♫Ha! I can do anything better than—“♫
LIBRARIAN: Uh, guys, this is kind of my moment. Do you mind? They don’t even have passwords yet.
VENDOR IN ORANGE: Right, ok.
VENDOR IN RED: Sorry.
A second flash of light and VENDORS disappear . STUDENTS stare at the place where the VENDORS were.
LIBRARIAN: Ok, where was I?
STUDENTS continue to stare at the empty space.
LIBRARIAN: sighs I lost you, didn’t I? Look, the takeaway here is that print research is still a thing. Not everything is online. The access you have now isn’t forever. Do you have any questions?
STUDENTS are silent.
LIBRARIAN: Fine. Off to the finale.
A drum beat starts and other librarians begin to appear in groups and start humming and harmonizing. REFERENCE LIBRARIANS, ACCESS SERVICES LIBRARIANS, CATALOGING LIBRARIANS, ELECTRONIC RESOURCES LIBRARIANS, enter from all wings, to congregate around the STUDENTS as a song that started out in an animated movie, but totally made the Broadway transition, plays.
LIBRARIAN: ♫ From the day you arrive as a 1L, continuing til you retire
♫There’s more to read than can ever be read
♫More to seek within each index
♫Of Statutes, ‘cyclopedias, and digests
♫But it’s better online, to use Shephards/KeyCite
♫To check the law on the endless rounds
♫Of your le-gal research
♫Precedent rules us all
♫In print and digital
♫Lexis and West
♫Soon you’ll find your case and the path unwinding
♫In the library where you do your…research!♫
ALL LIBRARIANS dramatically hold up a print volume a la lion cub as the song ends and the stage goes dark.
Not that I’ve given it much thought or anything.