Reflecting on My Second Year as a Law Librarian

by Emily Siess Donnellan

Saturday was Concordia Law’s graduation ceremony. This time of year makes me reflective. Graduation is both a beginning and an ending. It is the beginning of our grads new path and it is the ending of their law school careers. Today, since I am feeling introspective, I want to reflect on my second year as a law librarian.


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2017-2018 Highlights

This year Ning Han and I began a lecture series called, Legal Research Monday’s. I wrote about this series in a previous blog post, and would be remiss if I didn’t again mention the success of this program. We consistently had a good turnout of students and were able to engage our patrons in a new way. This may be something your library is already doing, but it is new to us since our law school is only five years old. Previously we haven’t had the staff bandwidth to host a library focused lectures series.

This year also marked the beginning of our faculty liaison program and scholarship tracking. It was great to get to know our faculty’s scholarship on a more personal level. I’m also excited to train research assistants in the fall as part of this new program. I fully admit, my scholarship tracking spreadsheet is in a state of a disarray though and doesn’t have a clear focus. If anyone has a good example of how their library is tracking faculty scholarship I would love to see it!

This year I also moved our libraries statistical tracking from a paper format to an online format. This has allowed for much easier tracking and manipulation of data. It also allowed me to see which of my student workers were doing most of the day-to-day tasks like shelving and patron counts. From this data I was able to assign projects to my less engaged workers.


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Improvement Areas

Patron behavior and respect for the library was probably the biggest challenge we faced this year. For some reason our 1L’s were very rowdy! We had issues with Frisbees, an overuse of birthday banners, rising noise levels, disappearing reserve study materials, and dogs in the library. Occasionally it felt I was working in a madhouse. Given that our library is closed to the public, I want to make our primary patrons, the students, feel at home. I do not want them to feel this at home though. Next year I’d like to start the year off explaining our rules and expectations, making it clear that while this should feel like home, it is not their home and needs to be treated respectfully.

I also would like next year to just generally flow smoother. This year, every other week, I was dealing with something critical. This may just be the life of a law librarian, but between desk workers calling me at all hours of the night (mostly because our fire alarm was acting up or our elevator was broken), last minute scheduling snafus, and teaching responsibilities, I was exhausted and I never felt like any given week went smoothly. Don’t get me wrong, I managed the chaos, and to everyone not in the library things were running smoothly. I don’t want it to just look that way, I want things to generally run without needing constant attention.


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Despite the “needs improvement” section of this blog post I loved my second academic year as a law librarian. I got to know all of our students, collection, and faculty. I feel like I’m fitting in well at my job and accomplishing a lot! During my 2L year of law school I had a breakdown and remember crying openly while walking home on the campus quad. I had realized I didn’t want to practice law. It was devastating that a goal I’d be working toward hadn’t been my dream at all. Now, I wish I could rewind to that time and tell myself that everything is going to work out just fine. I needed law school, and library school, to reach this point. Law librarianship is the career of my heart. I’m excited to come to the office every day and tackle new problems. I’m especially excited to see what the 2018-2019 academic year will bring!

This entry was posted in Customer Service, Issues in Librarianship (generally), Patron Services, Work/Life Balance. Bookmark the permalink.

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