At Home on the Edge of a Profession

At Home on the Edge of a Profession.

“This gigantic room full of books was indispensable to our civilization, and this one person was indispensable to this particular room of books. To me, that seemed like a lot of responsibility without a lot of fanfare. As I spent the rest of the weekend listening to the jargon-addled ramblings of “important” academics and the slippery slick poses of high-paid confidence men, that seemed like just the tonic. I began the application process to library school within a week.

What I never expected was the camaraderie. I knew that being a law librarian would provide an environment where I could grow intellectually, where I could be a part of something more important than a single person and, I was soon to discover, a profession where I'd probably never want for work opportunities. I just never expected to like so many of the people I work with. And that started as soon as I was introduced to the field….

Spending the bulk of my time at the reference desk has enhanced my education by at least a factor of 10. While my classes are certainly valuable, they are only intermittently — and sometimes, accidentally — so. But every time I'm on the reference desk I'm learning something that will come up again. Whether it's explaining to first-year law students the value of West's Digest or carefully navigating the Sargasso Sea of the patent process with a pro se patron without actually giving legal advice, it is all worth my time. After the excitement I felt having just completed an attenuated session of tracking down an obscure Australian treaty, I told a colleague that working the reference desk is like a never-ending Mensa tryout but without all the people in turtleneck sweaters.

I suspect there will come a time when I'm not so sanguine about the idea of spending so much time on the reference desk … and I bet it will have something to do with legislative histories. But I'm not there yet. Right now I feel very fortunate to get paid to spend my days in a library trying to figure out legal problems without actually having to figure out legal problems. If someone had told me at the beginning of law school that there was a job where I could work on legal matters, where I would be encouraged to research and publish, but where I wouldn't spend my evenings wondering if I'd done enough with my days, I wouldn't have believed them.” [, via Virtual Acquisition Shelf & News Desk]

Ernie will appreciate this one.  [The Shifted Librarian]

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