by Brandon Wright Adler
I know the RIPS Blog has discussed, once or twice, the many hats that law librarians must wear. I would like to discuss a casualty to all of that hat-wearing (other than baldness) – the casualty of a law librarian’s scholarship.
One of the very reasons that I applied to be a RIPS Blog contributor, other than service to my profession, is that I knew it would force me to write. While the topic is within the general purview of Research, Instruction, and Patron Services, it allows the mind to lose itself in a task that is outside the direct scope of our daily duties. This has been very important to me over the last few months. As we get wrapped up in trying on and being fitted for our different hats, we often get wrapped up in the instruction and patron services part of our careers and tend to lose out on the research aspect. To be fair, some of us can and do get wrapped up in the research aspect as well; however, how much of that research is being spent on something that you are passionate about? How much of it is research assistance that you are giving to another patron, be it public, student, or professor?
This is where I was beginning to notice that something had changed, that something was missing. For me, becoming a law librarian had a lot to do with the love for research and scholarship. While I love nearly all aspects of my career, some weighted different than others, I longed for a passion project. Specifically, my passions revolve around legal history and rare books. I am the glorified Rare Book Librarian at my law library, but it’s not part of my title, it’s basically just another hat that I wear. We are understaffed, as are many law libraries around the country, so the time I actually get to spend working with the rare law books is very small. Let’s fast-forward and insert the call for RIPS Blog contributors and the opportunity to participate in my profession outside of my daily duties with my library.
Being a RIPS Blog contributor has added some fuel and reignited my flame for writing and research on topics that I am passionate about. It got me dreaming about my passion again. Not quite doing anything about it yet, but dreaming about what I want to work on next. That, in turn, got me excited about losing myself in information. Very long story short, I have now developed a regimen where I take at least 4 hours a week to work on my own passion project research. I take a couple of hours at the beginning of the week to invigorate my mind, then a couple of hours at the end of the week to play with where my weekday musings have taken me. While I never lost my passion for research, in general, I did have to reconnect with what fuels my own passions, and it ultimately makes me a better librarian.
While this post is basically an ode to my own re-connection with scholarship, the point is all the same. I’m not saying that you absolutely must be passionate about scholarship to be a good librarian. I am saying that I think you will be a better librarian if you remain in touch with what attracted you to this profession in the first place. If there is a passion project, be it scholarship, teaching, bossing student workers around, writing law library related poetry, or using Instagram to take pictures of your favorite Lego minifigures in different places in the law library culminating in a map for 1L student orientation– take some time for yourself. Schedule the time. One thing is for sure, when you take that time to nurture your soul, be it personally or professionally, you will notice a difference and so will everyone else.