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.