Thursday, September 01, 2011

Intro to the Law Library. How I Got My Start: Going back to Tennessee. Part 1

I graduated from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications and minored in Sociology. I originally wanted to pursue a career in Radio/TV Broadcasting and Journalism. After moving to Texas 2 weeks after graduation, the reality began to sink in, realizing I will not obtain a job in the local broadcasting industry without any form of experience under my belt. Therefore, I began to work for a staffing agency, primarily performing administrative/clerical work at law offices and other places to get my foot in the door for a permanent position. That was 8 years ago.

Let me take you all back to the beginning of my exposure to the law library. I was a freshman in college and received financial aid to pay for my tuition and room/board. I was also awarded work-study and I thought it would be wonderful to work on a college campus. I went to the financial aid office to see the various job openings, applied and had interviews with the supervisors. I was hired as a part-time student employee at the Cecil C. Humphrey's School of Law Library. I did not know what to expect working at a law library, let alone a law school. Little did I know this will be the beginning of me pursuing a career in law librarianship and legal informatics.

My first responsibility working in the law library as a student employee was to shelve books. It may have been boring and monotonous to some, but it was actually helpful , I became familiar with the different locations and subject areas inside the library. A major plus for me was to place the cataloging cards in the correct order. It was a tedious task, however it help me to be detail-oriented and developed an organizational skill. Last, but certainly not the least, I began to perform loose-leaf filing duties on a daily basis. Loose-leaf filing binders and working with pocket parts introduced me to the major publishing companies at that time: Thomson West, CCH, Aspen, Matthew Bender, Oxford, and BNA. I witnessed seeing students having access to the databases, LexisNexis and Westlaw on the campus computers and laptops. That's how I knew about those big giants in the legal industry.

Though I was a part-time work study student working at the law library, the staff made me a part of their family. I participated in the inspection of the law library by the ABA (American Bar Association) and AALS (American Association of Law Schools), along with the opportunity to provide coverage at the reference desk assisting students, faculty and the general public locating materials and resources. I worked at the U of M Law Library my entire college career and I must say I had great memories and experiences. Thanks to Beth Behrens, Ruth Stolarick Smith, Greg Laughlin (former library director and dean), Dorothy Colburn, Howard Bailey, Robert Gatewood, Valarie Maclin, Simone Travis-Tate, Michael DiMarzo, and others I will never forget.

Note: The law school is no longer at the University of Memphis main campus. As of 2010, the U.S. Postal Service Customs House is now the new University of Memphis Law School located at: 1 North Front Street, Memphis, TN 38103 in Downtown Memphis.

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