Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Me and My Law Librarian Friends But Were Afraid to Ask: Beth Adelman

By Shira Megerman

In the third installment in this series, I spoke with Beth Adelman, Vice Dean for Legal Information Services, Associate University Librarian for Law for the University at Buffalo School of Law, and President of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), on her experiences as a law librarian. 

Logo of AALL
Logo of AALL

1.        What attracted you to being a law librarian? 

I was a history major looking for something that would pair nicely with my love of research, and library science turned out to be a good fit. After I received my MLS, I provided contract library services for a short time and then landed a job in a law firm library. A move across the country led me to a job at a community college with a paralegal program. I also worked as a data librarian for a federally funded research center before and during my first year of law school. After law school I landed at Georgia State University College of Law Library serving as a reference librarian before being promoted to head of public services. Soon after, I made another move across the country to the University at Buffalo (UB) Law Library serving as head of collection management before being promoted to associate director, and later to director. Some of my professional experiences were more interesting than others, but I’m grateful for my broad perspective on the profession. 

2.       How do you positively impact your community as a law librarian?  

Librarians foster access to information; that is our expertise and is what we continue to do. Further, librarians are always looking for ways to provide free access to information. At UB, our most recent initiative is providing access to legal textbooks at no cost to law students. As the state’s public law school, this is an important service and one that we are honored to provide. Another project I’m very proud of is NYCRR Digital, a searchable open access archive of New York’s regulatory history. NYCRR Digital provides free access to the superseded pages (takeouts) of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations for the years 1945-2001 in PDF format. Aa a collaborative effort with court librarians in the region, this is the only available source for these materials in electronic format for the time periods covered.  

3.       What is your favorite thing to do outside of work? 

My favorite thing to do outside of work is to spend time with my family. A new addition to my family is my granddaughter, Amy, who has a keen sense of humor. She is a daily reminder of what’s important. Amy is 10 months old and is in what I call the age of exploration. Sometimes we crawl on the floor together to explore, and I can tell she appreciates the camaraderie of me joining her in exploring her terrain.   

Beth and Amy out for a stroll.
Beth and Amy out for a stroll. Picture provided by author.

4.       What have you learned from your law librarian peers? 

One of the greatest gifts I have learned from my peers is listening to what everyone has to say before I make a decision.  

5.       Who is your library hero? 

Faye Jones, she knows why.  

Beth’s grandcat, Shuman. Provided  by author.
Beth’s grandcat, Shuman. Provided by author.

6.       If you could create the law library of your dreams, how would it look? 

It’s very simple. The library of my dreams includes many library cats and magical fairies who feed the cats and clean the cat litter.   

7.       What advice do you have for those interested in serving in an AALL leadership position? 

Volunteer! Get involved, and make some connections. Complete the committee/award jury call for volunteers form that AALL sends out in the fall. If you are feeling adventurous and don’t mind a wildcard, consider checking the box that you are willing to serve on any committee or award jury. It increases your chances of a placement and may open your world to something new.  

Also, play a role in the success of the committee by showing up and being prepared and present in the moment during meetings, following through on any tasks you take on, and asking for help if you can’t follow through. Volunteering expands your network and is very fulfilling when you see the fruits of your labor make an impact on the profession. 


Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.