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.

Introducing…Xiaomeng “Alex” Zhang as the October 2016 FCIL Librarian of the Month

alex-zhang1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Shenyang, a city in northeast of China. It was the capital of Manchuria Qing dynasty, the last dynasty of China and it was also occupied by Japanese for quite a few years during the World War II. As a result, Shenyang, today, has a diversity of history, culture and architectural styles.

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

As a philosophy and law major, I always enjoy critical thinking, researching, and writing. My advanced legal research class experience at the University of Kansas Law School and my later internship at the Law Library of Congress exposed me to the law librarianship field and made me realize that law librarianship is a perfect field that would not only allow me to continue to develop my critical thinking, legal research and writing skills, but also give me the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with others through teaching, research, and reference work.

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

I was extremely lucky to get to know many great mentors at the very early stage of my career: Jenny Selby (former Head of Reference and International Law Librarian at Michigan Law Library) introduced me to the profession. Barbara Garavaglia (current Director and former Assistant Director of Michigan Law Library) trained me and is still training me to become a better FCIL Librarian day by day. I started to learn about FCIL selection from Barbara and Jenny while I was still a student at the School of Information of the University of Michigan and I fell in love with and became attached to the area immediately.

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

University of Michigan Law Library. A bit over 7 years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages? 

I work with materials in many different languages on a daily basis, but I do not speak any besides English and Chinese (which is actually my native tongue).

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I would say the best is yet to come 🙂 But I feel VERY honored to become the vice chair and chair elect of FCIL-SIS this year and look forward to working with all of you to accomplish something significant!

7. What is your biggest food weakness? 

Thai food.

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

I am a big fan of K-pop (Korean Pop Music), so I would say Super Junior’s Sorry, Sorry.

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

I would like to improve my empirical research skills a bit if time allows. I would also like to learn Spanish.

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

My new watch 🙂

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

I enjoy reading, writing, and traveling.