Introducing…Sherry Xin Chen as the March 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

Sherry Xin Chen_Cropped

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Shanghai, China and moved to the United States in my twenties to pursue my graduate study. That was almost 16 years ago.

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

When I was a law student at the University of Michigan, I took an Advanced Legal Research class with the Director of the Law Library at that time, Margaret Leary. She showed me not only the method of doing legal research, but also the possibility of a joyful and rewarding career as a law librarian. Before I took that class, I have to say, as a law student I did not have any good idea what are good research skills and how to acquire them. That class really opened my mind and made me see what I was genuinely interested and capable of doing. After graduation from law school, I enrolled in the UM School of Information almost immediately and also worked part time at the UM Law Library. The experience I gained and the librarians I met there helped me start my career as a law librarian and I have always been very grateful.

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

Because of my background, I am naturally interested in this specialty. Within 2 or 3 years after I started my first full time position at the Boston College Law Library, Mark Sullivan, our former FCIL librarian retired so I stepped into his shoes to serve as a specialist in this area. For the most part, I am learning my trade by doing it—-by teaching the International Legal Research class every spring, by serving as a liaison to faculty and students with a FCIL interest, by working with our collection development librarian in acquiring FCIL materials, and by volunteering for FCIL’s Electronic Research Interest Group to reach out and serve a bigger community. It has been a challenging but fulfilling journey from the very start and I enjoy every bit of it.

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

I have been at the Boston College Law Library since January 2013.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I am a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese so English is my foreign language. I also studied Korean for four years back in college. I am proud to say that my Korean is still good enough for me to order in any Korean restaurant or understand the lyrics of the Korean pop song Gangnam Style with no special difficulty.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I would have to say that it is to teach a class almost every semester, either Advanced Legal Research or International Legal Research. Teaching forces me to really learn about my field, to internalize the knowledge and to be able to communicate it, to conquer my worst fear of speaking in public, to be super-organized but also expect the unexpected, to form close connections with my students, and to always find new goals or areas for me to work on.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Anything that is salty and fattening. The worst thing is that I feel no guilt for indulging myself with that.

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

Now I have a five year old who takes dominant control of our audio or video entertainment, my taste is forced to align with the kindergartener’s. The songs that make me get up and dance (if the songs do not, my daughter would!) are Let it Go in Frozen, Can’t Stop the Feeling from Trolls, and I’m Still Standing from Sing. I hope you are laughing with me instead of at me now.

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

Cooking like an Iron Chef! I love food, cooking and anything about it (but not baking though). My biggest dream is to enroll in a professional culinary school someday, in addition to being a very good law librarian at the same time.

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


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

It’s a privilege to work with all of you in this field. The wisdom, enthusiasm, and comradeship I feel in this community is something very special and I cherish every day.

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