by Emily Siess Donnellan
I read a lot about law librarianship. Probably because I’m relatively new. I’ve been a law librarian for about 2 years, and I’m still trying to navigate the profession. It may also be because I manage our library Instagram account (@ConcordiaLawLibrary). I spend more time than I’m willing to admit trolling the #lawlibrary and #librariesofinstagram hashtags for inspiration. Through this research, I’ve developed a small idea of the services that other academic law libraries offer.
What I’ve seen lately is the repackaging of library services. Most academic law libraries already offer workshops, vendor-sponsored trainings, and a multitude of other ways to connect with patrons. The problem I’ve found is that libraries aren’t repackaging and marketing these programs. An unfortunate reality is that if services aren’t repackaged and promoted, both students and faculty tend to forget about them.
I’d like to share my library’s experience with repackaging. We recently began offering a “new” service called Legal Research Mondays (LRM). We offer training workshops on different topics in legal research. If it is tangentially related to legal research, it’s fair game. The last session discussed Casetext and HeinOnline. We delved into best practices for navigating each database focusing on how and when to use these services. For example, HeinOnline has a lot of information, but if you want quick access to a case, it may not be the best database to choose.
The session featuring Casetext and Hein was great because we had the opportunity to collaborate with the Law School’s Casetext student ambassador. It also happened to be our largest workshop turnout to date! Coincidence? I don’t think so.
After the program, I thought about why it was our largest turnout. The food was good, but we’ve served food at each Legal Research Monday event. I think it has more to do with the fact that students enjoy learning from their peers. After all, that is how students learn in a law school classroom. Professors present a topic, and students are expected to not only learn from lectures but also teach themselves about a concept.
This idea of self-learning and learning from their peers has spilled over. After the first year of law school, students have adapted to this style of learning. If libraries can capitalize on this it could provide a valuable connection with students and student representatives.
Collaborating with student representatives can also help law libraries save money. Often student representatives have a small budget for events and access to swag items from vendors that help get other students in the door at events. In a time of budget cuts, it’s always good to look toward other sources of funding for events, and student representatives may be able to help fill that gap.
It’s still early in the semester, but I’m going to call the repackaging of our usual lectures as “Legal Research Mondays” a success! The services look shiny and new to our current cohort of law students, despite being something we’ve always offered. Additionally, collaborating with student representatives has been very positive and has brought new people to our workshops.