Posted in Internship

Law Reference Internship, Week 3

My last intern shift last week was rather busy toward the end, and I did not have time to post reflections for the week, so I am posting this morning before my Week 4 shifts begin.

In general things were a little calmer at the desk in week three, but I did have a few experiences worth mentioning.  I had my first disappointed patron this week.  A public patron came in looking for information on a case from a small county and about which case the patron knew very little, short of the year that it occurred.  I did everything I or any of the reference librarians could think of to try and find the case, but we ended up having to recommend that the patron go to the clerk of court of the county where the case was likely tried.  This did not satisfy the patron at all.  Afterward, however, the reference librarians and I talked about the transaction and discussed how, despite one’s best efforts, we cannot always furnish the immediate answer, but we can try to point patrons in the right direction.

Another interesting experience I had occurred at the end of one of my later shifts.  The reference desk closes for a couple of hours from 5 to 7 in the evenings, and on two of those days, I work a shift that ends at 5, so I lock up, shut off lights, and leave with the other librarians.  Toward the end of one of these shifts last week, I had a patron come in for help finding and navigating one of our print resources.  This took quite a while (but we did figure it out, and the patron was quite satisfied and grateful for my help!), and when I got back to the reference office it was well past 5, so everyone had left.  Because my things were still at the desk, they had left the office open, and a (rather confused) law student was standing in the middle of the reference office wondering where the librarians had gone!  I informed him that we were closed, but he seemed rather disappointed, and I just couldn’t turn him away, so I shut the office doors so others would understand we were closed, and I started to help the student.  Unfortunately my message was evidently not received, as quickly thereafter two more students walked in for reference help, so I found myself in a sea of law students with no librarians to help me!  In the end, it turned out they were all working on the same assignment and stuck on the same question, so we all worked together, solved the problem quickly, and everyone left satisfied (at which point I quickly locked up and turned out the lights!).

Lesson learned this week: [When not helping a patron] Close up on time, or they’ll just keep coming!

Another lesson from this week: Helping patrons does not necessarily mean you’ll have their answers 100% of the time; sometimes helping a patron simply means pointing them in the direction of another agency or resource that can better address their questions.

Posted in Internship

Law Reference Internship, Week 2

Today marks the end of my first week of interning at the Maurer School of Law library.  At least one of the law school journals was conducting a cite check this week for the articles to be published in their next issue, so my induction into reference work was quite quick!  Cite checks can often pose an intellectual challenge for students and librarians, because the purpose is to verify the sources to which the author has cited, and often it seems these authors have either cited to hard-to-find sources or improperly cited their sources to begin with.  Most of this reference work involved mining our electronic resources to find the answers.

I also worked with paper sources a bit this week, once helping a student in a legal bibliography course locate the proper volume of a source to answer a question in an assignment and once to help a former law student, now public patron, locate and learn how to use a paper source that is a staple for initial legal research projects.  My own memory from my legal bibliography course last spring was an immense help for this!  The second interaction was particularly memorable for me, because I had to use my reference course skills to look beyond what the patron was asking (the patron was referring to a resource improperly, so it was difficult to determine what resource was actually sought) to determine what the patron actually needed.

Finally, today I showed an IU student from another program how to access cases using a legal database to which the entire IU student population has access.  (The resource she was attempting to use was restricted to law student access only.)  Through this interaction I got a taste of the one-on-one instruction I am looking forward to conducting as a law librarian in the future, showing the patron not only how the database itself works, but also how to navigate the law library website to find the resource in the first place.

Although this was a very busy first week, I am actually quite grateful for that, because it forced me to get over my nerves quickly and bolstered my confidence in my ability to actually be a reference librarian at a law school.

Lesson Learned: You can’t always trust what’s right in front of you – sometimes the patron will not know precisely what they seek, and sometimes the resource the patron is relying on to find their source will be incorrect.

Posted in Internship

Law Reference Internship, Week 1

I have now completed my first week as an intern in the reference department at Maurer School of Law.  Even though I only worked six hours this week, I feel like my internship is off to a roaring start!

Wednesday was my first day, working three hours in the late afternoon.  My patron reference duties were light that day – my shift consisted more of orientation and other start-up activities, such as activating my Westlaw and LexisNexis accounts.  I am also in the process of acquainting myself with the various digital resources to which the law students have access (and differentiating those to which non-law school patrons lack access).  In addition, I am reviewing my notes from my Law Librarianship course last spring and creating a resource guide for myself.

Today I had my first patron reference interaction!  Overall, it was definitely a success.  I knew what resource to take the student to (electronic), but one of the other law librarians assisted me by showing me where to find the resource on the law library website.

Lesson learned this week: Get better acquainted with how the law library website is set up, and what resources it provides for its patrons.

Posted in Internship

New Directions

Clearly, last semester’s workload got away from me, as I’ve been embarrassingly neglectful of my blog!  My apologies.

Recapping the semester, however, I have just learned that a paper I wrote for my Archives class has been selected for presentation at the IU Chapter of the Society of American Archivists’ conference in March!  My paper was on lawyers in archives, surveying issues ranging from archivists handling attorney requests for access to archival materials to lawyers donating their personal papers to archival collections and the ethical implications involved.  I am quite excited and honored to have the opportunity to present this paper in March, and am looking forward to the experience!

In other news, this week I am beginning a semester-long internship with the reference department at Indiana University-Bloomington’s Maurer School of Law.  As a requirement of the internship, I am meant to keep a log of my experiences, and I have decided to use this blog for those purposes.  I will post at least once a week, reflecting on experiences I’ve had and projects I’m working on.  My internship begins later this week, so more to come soon…