by Nicole Downing
Working in a law school library, I interact with students all the time. They ask questions at the reference desk, schedule research appointments, and beg me to print a case brief when their technology backfires moments before class. I lead workshops and teach instructional sessions at their journal orientations or for their writing seminars. These are all interactions tied to my role as a reference librarian.
There are so many other ways to be involved with students at the law school outside of traditional library services. This post will focus on attending law school events. I know many librarians already participate in these opportunities, but I also know librarians can be an introverted crowd. For those not yet stepping outside the library walls, what I am proposing may go against your natural inclination. But it is worth a try to be involved, and there are plenty of options for getting started.
There are many events to attend to support students, and they can improve your relationship with the students and the reference services you offer. What are some opportunities for librarians to leave the library?
Speakers & Panels: Student groups are always sponsoring lunchtime speaker events with attorneys, judges, faculty, and the students themselves. Students want people to attend, just like we want students to attend our workshops! If it is a topic that interests you or a student you know is speaking, don’t miss the chance to attend.
Student Events: Students often plan larger-scale events, such as journal symposiums or moot court competitions. Attending a symposium can be a great way to support a journal you work with. Judging a moot court competition helps the students and allows you to interact with them in a different capacity.
Social Events: Social events come in all forms and can be hosted by many different law school departments. Ice cream socials, food truck festivals, coffee hours, and orientation welcome events are all opportunities to chat with the students. Plus, you can get some ice cream or a cup of coffee!
Alumni Events: Students are often invited to alumni receptions, and they can be incredibly intimidating events. If the event is open to you, attend with the goal of helping students navigate the waters.
Attending these events can lead to many rewarding benefits. The more students see your face, the more they come to recognize you. This means they are likely to think of you when they have a library-related problem you can help with.
It also allows you to engage as a member of the law school community. The library is your space, but one of the wonderful things about working in a law school library is the law school itself. Stepping outside the library allows you to improve perception of the library and librarians. It also gives you additional opportunities to market library services.
Finally, it can be great for the students. Librarians are generally considered friendly faces. We are significantly less intimidating than many faculty members, which can be incredibly helpful for a student floundering at a social event. You don’t need to monopolize their time, but you can engage them in conversation while they work up the courage to speak to a big-name attorney or professor they want to consult on their journal article. They’ll remember that bit of friendly conversation.
If you haven’t taken that step yet, attend a symposium or student-sponsored speaker event. They don’t require anything other than your presence! Work up to a social event or even an alumni event. As librarians, we’re an integral part of the law school system. It’s great to show our faces outside the library, even when we aren’t offering library services.