law librarianship

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I know a bit more about law than I do about medicine (this thanks largely to my experiences on the high school’s mock trial team) so law librarianship was theoretically a less daunting principle.  A friend of mine worked in the courthouse over school breaks in high school, thanks to a familial connection, and we once spent two days rescuing a nearly complete set of legal texts from their recycling bin, then organizing them and presenting them to our coach as a gift; this is nothing like law librarianship, of course, but it imbued me with at least a vague knowledge of what legal texts look like and are sortable by.  (Humorously, one of the only missing volumes was the one that described the criminal ramifications of and procedures surrounding murder, which one might argue was the most valuable subject.)

Jaeger Wells’ article is helpful in describing the realities of law librarianship.  He points out that the presence of mentors is helpful to any burgeoning librarian and says that his mentors “provided me guidance by helping me grow accustomed to the day-to-day technical responsibilities of law librarianship but also the more conceptual, macro-level problems facing the profession.”  That sounds advantageous.

He discusses “learning the structure of a search,” which is relevant in law librarianship and in librarianship in general, and learning how to use technology.  His school, the University of North Texas, seems to have actually embraced the advance of the “digital frontier.”  Other articles I have read have said things about how library schools arenotdoing this all the time, so this was comforting, even though he says that it was not always utilized in the law library.

He discusses the necessity of actually having experience working with a law firm in order to understand the rhythms and in order to understand budgeting concerns.  These are very real things that librarians will have to deal with, but not necessarily ones that even the best school can prepare you for.  Having real life experience is indeed helpful.

Wells concludes the article by saying “that a person cannot rely solely on either on-the-job experience or library school to become successful in law librarianship—rather, there is a delicate balance between the two.”  This doesn’t really come as a surprise to me; rather, it confirms something that I already suspected.  But it’s hardly unattainable.

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