Introducing…Erin Gow as the May 2019 FCIL Member of the Month

erin gow1. Where did you grow up?

Richmond, Kentucky.

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

Did I select it?? I certainly didn’t mean to – it just sort of … happened.

The final requirement for my library degree at the University of Brighton (they no longer offer this course) was a dissertation based on a research project at a host library. Middle Temple Library,  a law library in London, was looking for someone to research their users’ training needs, and since I had a background in education I thought this sounded interesting. I ended up learning A LOT about legal research, and enjoying it more than I expected to. Just before graduation a related law library, Gray’s Inn Library, had an opening in their graduate trainee program, which was designed for library graduates without any legal experience. I applied and was hired, and once again I ended up learning A LOT about British law and legal systems, and really enjoying the experience. When they invited me to stay on for a second year, I was delighted, and then when a job opened up back at Middle Temple Library, where I had done my dissertation research, I immediately knew I wanted to apply. I became a law librarian because of a string of opportunities, some first class training and support from amazing law librarians, and the fact that I ended up enjoying the work a lot more than I ever expected to!

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

Gray’s Inn Library had a specialist collection of international law, but as an American working in British libraries all the law was foreign to me! It was really becoming the European Librarian at Middle Temple Library that made me realize how much I enjoyed FCIL work specifically though. I loved learning about the intricacies of the EU and the challenge of finding foreign legal materials from across Europe.

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

I have worked at the University of Louisville Law Library for nearly 3 years (in March!).

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Not really. I took several years of Spanish in high school and at college, and started to work on developing a reading knowledge of French and German while working at Middle Temple, but I simply don’t use any of this enough to have retained very much.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Probably just the reality of being the European Librarian at Middle Temple Library for a little while. It’s an incredibly cool library and I really respect the librarians and library users at all the Inns of Court, so it felt like an achievement just to be hired there. In retrospect I also realize how much the job as a whole pushed me to develop a whole range of new professional skills and confidence, in a way that I didn’t even recognize as I was just getting up and doing the work to the best of my ability each day.

On the other hand, presenting at the British and Irish Association of Law Libraries annual conference in 2014 felt like a significant professional achievement at the time. It was fun to be aware of actually doing something significant (for me at any rate!), but also kind of intimidating.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Macaroni and cheese. I’ll eat it as a side dish or a main, homemade or from a box, fresh or frozen.

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

Honestly, I ‘m not really a dancer or a singer – see below.

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

I have always wanted to be able to play some sort of musical instrument or sing well. Unfortunately, I lack any sense of rhythm and can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

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

Orange juice – it’s my coffee.

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

I’m the current chair of the European Law Interest Group and would love to hear from anyone who would like to get involved with the group or share an idea for a project!