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From left: Ian Kipnes, Barbara Glennan, Brandon Baker, Bobbi Weaver

Originally posted in CWSL Employee Newsletter, 11/2014

There’s no such thing as a “typical day in the life” of a reference librarian at California Western.

“That’s why we like it,” says Barbara Glennan, assistant director for public services and educational technology. “Every day is different.”

Barbara is one of four librarians who share reference desk duty to make sure it is staffed whenever the law library is open. The others are reference librarian Brandon Baker; reference librarian and stack manager; Bobbi Weaver, foreign and international law reference librarian, and Ian Kipnes, the acquisitions and budget control librarian.

“All of the reference librarians are ‘dual degreed’, having completed a JD degree as well as a master’s degree in library and information science,” says Barbara. “We teach Advanced Legal Research, and specialized legal research courses as adjuncts. So on any given day a librarian may be preparing for class, grading papers, or in the classroom.”

All of the reference librarians wear many hats.

Brandon manages the library’s print collection including shelving and filing. Bobbi handles research projects focused on foreign or international law and manages the library’s faculty research assistant. She is responsible for collecting reference statistics, and creating displays in the library, such as the 90 year history display on the first floor. Ian handles paying the bills and keeps track of the budget for the entire library.

There are also no “typical requests,” however there are a few main types of questions the librarians get while on the reference desk.

Students usually ask for help with assignments in their classes, such as legal skills, or for an assignment with an internship or part time job, according to Barbara. They also ask for help researching for scholarly writing papers. Many people don’t realize that they can usually answer this question for themselves by a quick search in our catalog, which is available via the web http://kim.cwsl.edu.

“As a former practicing attorney,” Ian says, “I love that each shift is different and that I never know what to expect that day—as it was when I was in practice. I also especially like the fact that I get to interact with the students and faculty when I’m at the reference desk.”

“Being a reference librarian at an academic institution is tremendously rewarding,” Brandon says. “Whether I am assisting 1Ls with fundamental legal research, instructing 2L and 3L students in Advanced Legal Research, or joining a colleague for a jump down the ‘rabbit hole’ (e.g. interdisciplinary research), it’s the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction that comes from comprehensive academic analysis. I love almost every aspect of legal research and am grateful to be in a position where I am able to help others.”

“I love my job, especially the teaching aspects of it—both in the classes and at the reference desk,” says Bobbi. “As technology progresses, we have more opportunities to reach more of the CWSL community.”

“We are all here because we love what we do:  the research, the teaching, continually learning and honing our skills, and working with the CWSL community,” Barbara says.

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