Upon entering SJSU's SLIS program, I was in a situation that I think many fellow SJSU-SLIS graduate students can relate to - specifically, I had very little experience in the field of library science. Having worked at many law-related jobs before entering the program, I did not have a long list of library-related jobs that would demonstrate my interest in the field. Making a career change, I knew, would not be easy. Despite these hurdles, I knew that the best way to meet any challenge was head-on.
One of the first steps I took was to gain more information about the area of library and information science that interested me. My particular interest is in law librarianship and I recently joined Southern California Association of Law Libraries (SCALL). The organization is a great way to meet other law librarians, network, and gain valuable insights about the field.
On May 21, 2010, SCALL presented the "New Attorney's Research Skills: What They Have vs. What They Need" Workshop at the USC Gould School of Law. At the workshop law librarians from law firms and law school libraries discussed a variety of relevant topics, such as how to teach law students who are digital natives versus digital immigrants, and how to keep law students engaged in learning about legal research.
Workshops like this are ideal opportunities for SJSU-SLIS students like myself, who want to learn more about a particular library science field. There is certainly no better way to learn what law librarians from both the private and academic sector do than to attend this workshop.
For example, the workshop included a dynamic roundtable discussion, where law firm librarians, law school instructors, legal research instructors from the private sector, and former law school students discussed a range of topics. These topics ranged from what material to teach in legal research classes to the types of research skills expected of new attorneys. The participants of the discussion presented thoughtful opinions and perspectives based on their real-life experiences. Just from listening to the dialogue, I felt that I had learned a great deal about the field.
The workshop is also an excellent way to meet other law librarians and develop contacts. By networking with other library professionals, you can find out if an organization needs interns. You can also find out how these library professionals obtained their present positions. Additionally, by attending events such as these in an area of your interest, you are demonstrating to future employers your passion and commitment to the field.
Hopefully, I'll see some of you at future SCALL events.
Sandy Li just finished her second semester at SJSU-SLIS and is interested in becoming an academic law librarian.