In the fifth installment in this series, I speak with Avery Vinson, Legal Research Professor & Student Services Specialist at the University of Florida School of Law, on becoming a law librarian.
1. What attracted you to becoming a law librarian?
I give all the credit to Avery Le, who was my legal research professor and the first law librarian I met, for persuading me to become a law librarian. My best friend (Pepe) and I spent many hours in Avery’s office during law school threatening to drop out. Avery walked us back from the cliff and (perhaps on more than one occasion) tore out pages from her Meditation Coloring Book and desperately flung them at us in a last-ditch attempt to get us to chill out. Did we chill out? No – we are still anxiety-ridden, BUT Avery Le did convince us that we could use our law degrees outside of the legal profession itself, which I always kept in the back of my mind in case I decided to make a career transition. A few years into practice, I began researching MLIS degrees and decided to enroll in a program which allowed me the flexibility to work as an attorney during the day and attend my library courses at night – and I loved my classes! I decided that law librarianship would be a natural fit for me then and there because I do love law … just not practicing it. I love my job now!
2. How do you positively impact your community as a law librarian?
Although I am a very new law librarian, I have always been passionate about access to information, especially information concerning the law. Libraries in general, but especially law libraries, are one of the only spaces that even the playing field for the general public. Our resources are free, and patrons receive the same treatment regardless of if they are a partner at a top law firm or a lay person with no background in law. We will help you find resources and we will treat you with respect. Besides libraries, there aren’t many spaces in our society that do that at no cost to the patron. Simply by working as a reference librarian, I can guide patrons to information that they may not have known existed. I truly believe access to information leads to better self-advocacy and a higher consciousness-raising on the individual level and egalitarianism on the societal level. All librarians contribute to that!
3. What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I have a lot of outside interests, but I’ll limit them to what I love most. I have a black cat named Elio (yes, from Call Me by Your Name) and he is very sweet, but if he doesn’t get enough attention he becomes very, very rambunctious. I spend almost 10 minutes every single day physically removing him from my window blinds because one of his favorite attention-seeking activities is climbing them. This is not my favorite thing to do outside of work, but playing with him and cuddling with him and taking him for walks are some of my favorite activities. I also love espresso. I used to be a barista, so I make myself a cappuccino basically every single morning. After removing Elio from the blinds, that cappuccino is the highlight of my day. I cook and bake a lot, too. I’m really a sucker for all things food & beverage related. If I’m not cooking at home, I love traveling and trying new restaurants with friends.
4. What have you learned from your fellow librarian peers?
Collaboration. Law librarians and legal researchers seem to have personalities that love teamwork and collaboration. Coming from legal practice, it is a breath of fresh air to forfeit the ego and instead work together collegially.
5. Who is your library hero?
I have two – Avery Le for forcing (encouraging) me to complete law school and for piquing my interest in law librarianship and Shira Megerman for forcing (encouraging) me to become the new Chair of the Jewish Law Librarians Caucus. I need the push – especially relating to leadership positions, but I am incredibly thankful to have met them and been influenced by them to try new things!
6. If you could create the law library of your dreams, how would it look?
We’re suspending disbelief, right? I’m easy to please – a cat café. C’mon – students (without allergies and without an aversion to cats) would love it! I mean, I would . . . and I could bring my cat to work without worrying about him climbing window dressings.
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.