1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town outside of Portland, Oregon called Canby. I was born and raised there. The town is very typical, rather quaint, and unremarkable except that it is known for its world-class dahlia farm. Very random.
2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?
I actually didn’t know law librarianship was a thing until law school. I went to law school knowing I wanted to pursue the law, but not necessarily in what capacity. At my law school, during 1L year the law librarians co-taught legal research and writing with adjunct professors and that’s how I learned that law librarians existed. However, it wasn’t exactly “love at first sight” with terms and connectors and The Bluebook, etc. But, not far into 1L year our class’s law librarian announced that the library was hiring RAs to work some evening shifts. My immediate thought was “I want to work at the library!” I have ALWAYS loved libraries and books.
Well, I loved working at the law library. I would pick up extra shifts when I could, and the library director or the law librarians would sometimes give me extra projects because they saw my interest. Over the next year and a half I asked questions and got to know them all. I was shocked to learn they all had law degrees AND library degrees. I was also struck by the fact that they all seemed very happy, were very well-respected within the law school, and were just generally wonderful/knowledgeable people. However, it wasn’t until my 3L year when it was manifestly clear to me that I really dreaded a) the adversarial nature of practicing law, and b) the pressure of billable hours. So, I seriously began to consider other options.
It sounds kind of cliché, but I literally had an epiphany one day. One particular afternoon I was perusing blogs about law librarianship as a potential option and I realized that I had considerably less angst about getting a whole new graduate degree in MLIS than I did taking the bar exam. I figured I should probably listen to that. So, I marched into the library director’s office, announced my decision, and asked what I needed to do. She asked how I felt about Seattle–because she recommended the University of Washington program–and I said “great!” (since I was from the PNW). Next, I requested a book on law librarianship from ILL. I read all about all kinds of different areas of law librarianship and when I read Mary Rumsey’s chapter on FCIL librarianship my mind was blown…and set. That was it! I did end up taking a year off between law school and library school, taking the bar exam, and practicing a bit, but my goal stayed the same (was even more solidified, actually): FCIL librarianship.
3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?
My interest in FCIL was really just an extension of my general life interests. I have always been drawn to “other”: other languages, other cultures, other places…food! So, when I started law school I naturally wanted to take international law. After that first class, I ended up taking every international law class I could–all my electives were somehow related to international law or things. I studied abroad in Rome both rising 2L and 3L summers, and I did one clinic that went to the United Nations for a week. I also did immigration law clinic where I got to help someone from the Democratic Republic of Congo apply for asylum–to this day this is still one of the most meaningful things I’ve been able to do with my legal education. During law school I also became friends with my international law professor (I’m still in contact with him), and I joined the board of the International Law Association at my law school too. I’m so grateful for all my international experiences that gained from my legal education.
4. Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there?
I work for the Jacob Burns Law Library at The George Washington University Law School. I started here in September 2019.
5. Do you speak any foreign languages?
I speak French most fluently. I majored in French and then lived in Paris for a year teaching English. I also speak Italian (I’m in love with the place), and I can read Spanish enough to find materials in it. I also took advantage of being a university employee last semester and took a beginning course in Latin. While I am unable to continue at the moment, I hope to carry that on at some point. I also have a life goal of learning Russian.
6. What is your most significant professional achievement?
This is more of an “opportunity” than achievement, however I had the opportunity to intern at the Dag Hammarskjöld Library at the United Nations in New York for a few weeks at the end of library school. It had been a dream of mine and I’m still so grateful that I was able to do that. In terms of actual achievement I’d have to say two things. As previously mentioned, I’m very proud of being involved in getting our client granted asylum in the US in immigration clinic in law school. I was humbled and grateful to be able to use my legal and language skills to impact someone’s life so meaningfully. Second, in library school my colleague and I wrote a piece on Ghost Guns that got published in ALA’s Documents to the People. I’m early on in my career, so it’s the first I’d seen my name in print. I can’t wait to reflect on this question in years to come! This is…three things–whoops!
7. What is your biggest food weakness? Tortilla chips. It’s a funny one but I can literally eat almost any size bag of tortilla chips (salted, of course) in a sitting. Costco size might be pushing it, but I’m not going to test that one.
8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance? Boston’s More than a Feeling. It’s one of those “stop where you are, lip sync, and air guitar right now” kind of songs for me.
9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?
I wish I could play a musical instrument! I would love to be able to play the cello, or viola, or jazz piano. My husband is an amazing saxophone player so it would be incredible to be able to join him in that. Maybe someday.
10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you can’t go a day without? Maybe this falls under the “basic necessities” category, but I’m going to surprise myself by saying: Tea. Being from Portland, I was once such an avid coffee drinker that it was a common joke among my family and friends. Health problems required me to quit that habit and I found solace in black tea a few years ago. It feels weird to say, but I now actually prefer tea! I start every day with a pot of English Breakfast Tea. (What a lame thing to say–maybe I should think more on this.)
11. Anything else you would like to share with us?
1) For anyone considering law librarianship and is still deterred by the student loan burden, the vast majority of government and academic law librarian positions make you eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. It was a law librarian that told me about this in law school, and I am passing this along to any prospective law librarians still trying to figure things out. It was this fact that pushed me over the edge to take the dive into this career, and I haven’t looked back.
2) Less importantly, this photo is my first “shelfie” that I ever took…last week. I don’t know how I never knew a shelfie was a thing, but when I learned the word of course I had to. The mug was a gift from a dear friend in Italy that clearly understands what makes me tick.