Introducing…Gabriela Femenia as the April 2017 FCIL Librarian of the Month

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1. Where did you grow up?

A lot of places, but mostly Silicon Valley. My high school was down the road from Apple, so I still kind of think of it as a local business.

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?

After leaving practice, I moved into academic administration while looking for a way to combine my law background with my interest in teaching and research. I knew I didn’t have the narrow focus to be an academic, and I also wanted a better work-life balance. After being introduced to some law librarians, it was obvious that’s what I’d been looking for all along.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?

I was fortunate that one of the law librarians I met before library school was an FCIL librarian, Maria Smolka-Day. She convinced me that it would be a great fit for me, assuming there was a job open when I graduated, which she cautioned might not be the case. Ironically enough, it was her job that was open, as she retired that year.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there?

The University of Pennsylvania Law School, which I’ve worked for since getting my MLIS in 2009.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I speak Spanish, since I was born in Argentina and grew up bilingual. I can read French, German, and Latin, although I’m badly out of practice speaking the first two, and I never really spoke Latin apart from reciting Winnie Ille Pu in class.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Becoming a reasonably experienced legal research instructor or achieving OCLC immortality as editor of a chapter in Sources of State Practice, although winning the impressively pointy Spirit of the FCIL-SIS award is a close second.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

I’m with Wallace on this one: Cheese! I have tried going vegan at a couple of points, and it is always cheese that is my downfall. Don’t even try to convince me that nutritional yeast is an acceptable substitute.

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill. It’s what I crank at every moment of victory in my life.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

Like all FCIL librarians, I would like to be able to download every language directly into my brain on demand, Matrix-style. Stopping and starting time would also be nice.

More realistically, I would like to have more artistic ability and a steadier piping hand so I could decorate cakes better (see below).

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you not go a day without?

The obvious answer is probably sarcasm, but I’ll go with fountain pens. I’ve been obsessed with them since buying my first one on a whim in college, so having to use a ballpoint makes me seriously cranky. I have way too many of them, including some treasured ones inherited from relatives, and I buy a new one every few months, especially whenever I’m in Washington DC and can get to Fahrney’s. One of the best birthday presents I’ve ever received is a custom fountain pen holder in the shape of a Ferris wheel, which my husband designed and 3-D printed for me.

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?

I bake for fun pretty much every Sunday, and since I don’t want an entire batch of whatever it is in my house all week, it goes into the office on Monday for my coworkers. If it hadn’t been for Kitchen Confidential coming out just as I graduated and having restaurant owners as my first clients, I might have toyed with a career change to pastry chef instead of librarianship. Yes, I am addicted to Great British Bake Off, although I’m going to have to defect to whatever new show the BBC creates for Mary, Sue and Mel, because Paul Hollywood on his own is not going to do it for me.

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