Introducing…Melissa Abernathy as the November 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

2018.11 melissa

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Monterey Park, CA, a suburb about 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.  Monterey Park is known for having a vibrant Chinese-American community, producing several Chinese-American mayors and one U.S. House Representative (Judy Chu).  It’s also home to the best dim sum, hands down.

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

As a second year law student at Lewis & Clark I worked as a faculty RA, Westlaw student rep, circulation desk worker, and was very involved in law review.  Between those four positions I spent a LOT of time in the law library.  One day, a reference librarian and I waded through the CIS index and down into the bowels of the microfiche collection, on the hunt for some legislative history I needed for cite-checking.  I have to admit I shot her a few dubious glances as we dug deeper and deeper, dutifully writing down SuDoc numbers.  Like magic, she unearthed the item we needed and loaded it onto the microform machine.  Color me impressed! By my third year I was hanging around the reference desk enough that the librarians began mentioning the possibility of library school.  Many of them had matriculated through Penny Hazelton’s program at the University of Washington so I applied straight away and was accepted.  As they say, the rest is history.

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

I got my first taste of international law working with the International Environmental Law Project during law school.  One research assignment involved endangered gorillas crossing protected areas in three countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Treaties, domestic legislation, and Virunga mountain gorillas, oh my! You could say I was hooked. Several international law courses and papers later, I ended up applying to an FCIL librarianship position at the University of San Diego straight out of library school.

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

I have been with the University of San Diego, Legal Research Center since 2007.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Sadly, I do not.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I’m most proud of the inroads I’ve made with FCIL teaching at USD since starting here over a decade ago.  We now teach several classes in the LLM in Comparative Law Program and U.S. Law and Policy Program (foreign scholars mainly from Korea), as well as provide FCIL training for our Vis International Moot Court team and International Law Journal students. Most recently we added a 1-credit, 7-week course on International Legal Research for which I am the instructor of record.  We’ve only offered the course twice so far but the response has been very positive.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?


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

Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker, or really any version.

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

Like many FCIL librarians, I would love the ability to speak one or more foreign languages.

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

A good belly rub for my sweet 17-year-old pup, Shadow.

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

My husband and I are expecting our first baby (a boy!) this December.

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