What do Librarians do During the Summer?

Although school is out for most students, it is wrong to think that school is out for your librarians. In fact, the summer months are busier than ever for your crackerjack library staff. We spend the summer getting it all ready for everyone to return to school in the fall, students and faculty. It is called planning ahead – and it encompasses hours spent at conferences, local educational sessions, meetings with librarians at firms and other schools, and getting to know the research agendas for other faculty members at Brooklyn Law School.

Many of our professional conferences are held in the summer to accommodate academic summer schedules and the usual slow down in business at firms and court libraries. The two major conferences that BLS Librarians attend in the summer are the Computer Assisted Legal Instruction conference (also known as CALI), and the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries  (AALL), which typically attracts about 2,000 of our colleagues to a single venue.

Frightening, isn’t it?

We go to professional conferences to hear from our colleagues about new ways they are helping you – our clientele – to discuss products with our vendors (like Westlaw, Lexis, BNA, CCH, and Bloomberg), and, to share our own knowledge with others. For example, Jean Davis spoke at AALL about preparing students to work at clinic offices in foreign venues. This was based on her experience working with BLS students who were doing internships at South Africa and Hong Kong. Kathy Darvil, as a newish law librarian (less than 5 years), is charing a committee to welcome new law librarians into the profession. Interestingly, I have spoken to three BLS grads in the last month about becoming law librarians. I personally moderated a well attended panel discussion on how law firms and academic institutions are going to have to change to meet the economic pressures felt on Main St. (and Wall St.).

We also use this time to do some housekeeping. Just a small sample includes:

  • Associate Director Linda Holmes, along with Acquisitions Librarian Singh and several members of the paraprofessional staff, are painstakingly going through our physical collection to get rid of materials that are no longer relevant or needed. This will free up shelf space, and ultimately study space, for more productive use.
  • Hainan Yu and his staff are replacing workstations in the computer labs to accommodate faster processing speeds and newer Office applications.
  • Jeff Gabel is going through our database subscriptions to ensure we do not violate our copyright restrictions when printing or lending to other libraries.
  • Rosemary Campagna is designing new library maps to help orient our entering class and possibly even our returning students.
  • Librarians Maria Okonska and Karen Schneiderman are experimenting with building mobile applications to allow students and faculty to use library resources easily on their handheld devices.
  • Harold O’Grady built a new online research guide to accommodate his new course on Securities Law research. And of course, all librarians are updating their research guides, contacting faculty members about their research projects, and helping with expanding the library collection to meet your research needs.

Finally, the best thing that librarians are doing is taking a vacation because all of this summer work is exhausting  – and they want to be ready to greet with energy and enthusiasm in August! (VS)