In the fourth installment in this series, I spoke with Stefanie Weigmann, Associate Director for Research and Instructional Services, at Boston University School of Law, Fineman & Pappas Law Libraries, on becoming a law librarian.
1. What attracted you to being a law librarian?
I worked in the library when I was a law student at the University of Michigan. At the University of Michigan Law Library, at the time, law students could answer basic reference questions at the reference desk. I really enjoyed the work, and after trying various different types of legal work in public interest, at the courts, and at a firm, I finally decided that I was the most happy answering legal reference questions at a reference desk. I prioritized my own happiness, and have had a generally very fulfilling career doing what I enjoy.
2. How do you positively impact your community as a law librarian?
I’m not sure that I have impacted my community. I ended up raising my daughter mostly by myself in a town where I had no family, and being a relatively solitary person, that ended up taking most of my energy outside of work. I find that work and my child take enough out of me that I barely have time to even think of doing anything beyond those two things. I envy people with unlimited amounts of energy, but I hope that I have at least positively impacted my work place and my daughter – although the jury is still out on both those things.*
*Note from Shira: It is important to know that you can take care of your needs, your family’s needs, anything you choose, and do as much or as little as you want within the field, and that is more than enough as a law librarian. There is no “right way” to be a librarian. Stefanie is my supervisor, and I can say definitively that she positively impacts our community, and is one of the most compassionate people I have ever worked with. She is also incredibly modest. One of the positive ways she recently impacted the community was by adding board games to our collection as she actively cares about student wellbeing.
3. What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I enjoy taking walks, bicycle rides, and reading. I bike to work, so I am able to get that in as part of my routine. For several years, I had a dog who I inherited from my mother, and I really enjoyed the routine he forced on me of walking twice a day. Perhaps I will get another dog someday. Finding the time to read was difficult until my daughter was in high school. So, recently I have gotten back to reading, but I still haven’t built up the reading stamina I had before my daughter was born.
4. What have you learned from your law librarian peers?
Librarians, in my experience, are some of the kinder people in the world. My colleagues have almost uniformly been lovely. And I admire those of my colleagues who give back to their community be it through AALL or a local organization. What have I learned? How to serve your work community. How to connect with students and other patrons. How to care that everyone has access to information.
5. Who is your library hero?
I think my library hero is Brian Flaherty. He has unflagging energy, a positive outlook, kindness for his colleagues and the students, and a curiosity about how to teach better and live better. That is amazing. I have had many wonderful librarian colleagues over the years, but if picking a hero means someone you would like to emulate, then Brian is my hero.
6. If you could create the law library of your dreams, how would it look?
My dream library would have lots of comfortable, individualized seating. It would have different types of spaces, some for collaboration, some for quiet study, some for hanging out. It would have a café. Lots of scanners. It would make clear that librarians are there for the patrons through its design.
7. What advice do you have for those interested in serving in an AALL leadership position?
I don’t really have advice since I never had such a position, but I would say that you should give to AALL what you are able. Not everyone is going to be able to be engaged. If you can do such a position and want to, my observation is that the more you volunteer and put yourself out there, the more likely you will move into a leadership position. AALL rewards participation and they want and need active members.
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.