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SLA-SD Fall Seminar October 30, 2015: Registration Is Now Closed

Please join us for an exciting, interactive, and informative day!

Forging Forward: Techniques & Technologies for Gauging Success


As the landscape of information services and resources changed from physical to digital and physical, how have librarians changed the ways in which we gauge success? Learn new ways of measuring your customers’ or competitors’ research impact, your library services’ impacts in the digital age, improving services for your customers, and how to quantify and convey your organization’s successes to upper management.

Speakers and Topics will include:

  • Joseph  Matthews, JRM Consulting, Inc. – Forging Forward: Using Evaluation as a Stepping Stone
    Our keynote speaker is a consultant specializing in strategic planning, assessment, evaluation of library services, customer service, use of performance metrics, and the balanced scorecard.  Joe has co-authored several books, including Managing with Data: Using ACRLMetrics and PLAmetrics (2014), Getting Started with Evaluation (2013), Research-Based Planning for Public Libraries: Increasing Relevance in the Digital Age (2013).
  • Kathy Elliott, San Diego Zoo Global – From Tortoise to Cheetah: Streamlining News Aggregation with Inoreader and
  • Karen Heskett, UC San Diego Library – Helping Our Users Find Their Article Metrics
  • Carolyn Norman, National University Library – The Quality of Library Reference Services from the User’s Perspective—How Did We Do?
  • Deborah Robinson, Qualcomm Library – The Evolution of ResearchViews at the Qualcomm Library: Tailoring Proactive Research Deliverables to Meet Client Needs
  • Cindy Shamel, Shamel Information Services – Setting Yourself Up for Success

Date:     Friday, October 30, 2015, 8 am – 4 pm.

Location:  Marina Village – Bayview Room (Directions)

1936 Quivira Way     San Diego, CA 92109
Plenty of free parking available in front of the building.

Cost: Rates include continental breakfast, lunch, and mid-morning and afternoon refreshments!
Catered by Panera.
Dietary Special Needs?  Please contact Penny Coppernoll-Blach and Deborah Kegel with your dietary needs at

For questions, please contact Kristi Ehrig-Burgess at

Thanks to the contributions of our exhibitors, who help make the Fall Seminar possible! Each exhibitor will have a table at the seminar, and attendees will have several chances to visit with these vendors throughout the day.

  • EOS International
  • ProQuest
  • Safari
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Elsevier

Seminar Information: For questions, please contact Penny or Deborah at

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SLA-SD 2015 Q3 Virtual Board Meeting, Friday, Sept.11, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Hello SLA-SD Members,

With summer wrapping up, it’s high time to convene for our third quarter SLA San Diego Chapter Executive & Advisory Board Meeting, scheduled for Friday, September 11, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM (duration depends on the flow of the meeting, with a 2 hour max). During the meeting, board members will report on and discuss chapter activities and plans, review finances, and address any new and old business. All are welcome to attend — it’s a great way to learn more about our chapter, including ways in which you can get more involved if interested.

The meeting will be held virtually via GoToMeeting. See below for call-in information:

SLA-SD Q3 Board Meeting
Friday, September 11, 2015, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Please join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States +1 (408) 650-3131
Access Code: 914-609-101

A draft meeting agenda is available for download here: SLA-SD_2015_Q3_Board_Meeting_Agenda_Draft

Thank you for your time! — And let me know if you have any questions!

Amy Jankowski
2015 President
SLA-SD Chapter

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Upcoming Webinar Program for SLA San Diego Chapter!!

The SLA-SD Chapter’s program coordinator is bringing the next program out to our local San Diego area Information Professionals! Our next event is available exclusively for our past, present or future SLA SD Chapter Members…wherever you are this summer.

SLA Webinar with author, Bruce Rosenstein
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
10:00 am | Pacific Daylight Time | 1 hr

This book talk will be led by Bruce Rosenstein, hosted by Safari Books Online and organized by SLA-SD. Sign up for this free event HERE:


Creating the Future for Information Professionals the Peter Drucker Way

Books by Peter Drucker (1909-2005), the “father of modern management,” have been a beacon for people in special libraries and organizations of all types for more than 70 years.
Join Bruce Rosenstein, Managing Editor of Leader to Leader, who interviewed Drucker extensively and is the author of Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way and Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life; for an exploration of how you can apply Drucker’s insights to create the future for you, your organization and the profession.

Bruce’s presentation will be particularly relevant for developing strategies regarding the recent discussions on ‘the future of SLA’ and the disruption that special librarians have experienced:

Creating a future-focused mindset (Build a better tomorrow by taking steps today)
Determining the future that has already happened (Look for clues in the past to forecast the future)
Becoming your own successor (Keep yourself in demand and in control of your destiny)
Shaping the future of your organization (Go beyond the planning stage and create real change)Building your future beyond your current workplace (Identify key challenges & opportunities in all areas of life)
The future is too important to be left to chance; participate in this important event as you create your own future!

Bruce Rosenstein

Bruce Rosenstein is Managing Editor of Leader to Leader, and author of Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way (McGraw-Hill, 2013) and Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life (Berrett-Koehler, 2009). He is an adjunct professor at The Catholic University of America’s Department of Library and Information Science, and was a reference librarian at USA TODAY for 21 years.

Check this Out! Attendees will also benefit from an introduction and overview of Safari Books Online (home to Rosenstein’s books in full-text) along with 44,000 other IT, business and professional development titles along with a free no-obligation 30-day trial.

Help with registration? Contact our SLA-SD Hospitality Chair, Kristi Ehrig-Burgess

Questions about this program? Contact 2015 SLA-SD President Elect, Eileen Schnur

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SLA Strategic Recommendations: SLA-SD Discussion Session, Monday, June 8 @ Ashford University, 4:30 – 6:00 pm

Dear SLA-SD Members,


As you know, SLA President Jill Strand recently announced that the SLA Change Consultants, Cindy Shamel and Ulla de Stricker, who were engaged by SLA to provide strategic recommendations in areas such as marketplace positioning and viability, membership revenue and growth, and conference modeling forwarded their report to the board – See more at: tasked with providing strategic recommendations to the organization in areas such as marketplace positioning and viability, membership revenue and growth, and conference modeling, forwarded their report to the SLA Board. The report is currently available to all SLA members through the following link: (SLA login required to access report). If accepted and enacted, many of these recommendations will translate into significant changes in the organization. It is an exciting time to be an active member, and all are encouraged to engage in this discussion of our future!


SLA has provided several opportunities for member feedback, including:


  1. By e-mailing your comments to the secretary of the board, Tara Murray, who will organize the comments by recommendation and forward them to the board on a weekly basis;
  2. By submitting questions for consideration at a virtual Town Hall for SLA members on May 27 – recording now available through Key Board Initiatives page:, “Change Consultant” section (SLA member login required)
  3. By sharing your thoughts in person during the comment periods at the board meeting in Boston on Saturday, June 13, prior to the start of the SLA 2015 Annual Conference;
  4. By speaking directly with board members throughout the conference; and
  5. By asking questions during the annual business meeting, to be held at SLA 2015 on Tuesday, June 16, at 5:00 p.m. (This will mark the cut-off for the board to receive comments.)
In an effort to engage our chapter members – and ourselves – in this discussion, SLA-SD will be holding a discussion session on the evening of Monday, June 8, 4:30 – 6:00 pm at Ashford University. During this time, members are encouraged to discuss the recommendations’ strengths and weaknesses; address strong points, concerns, confusion, and additional ideas; and ask questions among each other to clarify how these recommendations may affect us as individuals and as a chapter.


Example questions:


  • How will the recommended changes to business partnerships / vendor sponsorship rules (centralizing requests for funding; sharing revenue 50/50 with HQ) affect our ability to fund SLA-SD Chapter programs (particularly Fall Seminar)? (section 3.1)
  • Regarding recommended changes to SLA’s educational products and services — such as positioning SLA as a lifelong career school for members — is there a strategy to encourage broader recognition of the value in SLA certifications and coursework by employers and other related industries? (section 4)
  • How do the recommended changes to leadership training (eliminating the January in-person Leadership Summit and replacing this with web-based training) affect our future leaders? Will web training be sufficient, or even better? (section 5.1.a)
  • Should content management of the SLA Annual Conference be entrusted to a single professional (or two), shifting content selection away from SLA units? Would this planning position be outsourced, or should this individual be a member or otherwise affiliated with SLA? (section 5.1.c)
  • What are your thoughts on the recommended consolidation and standardization of SLA Divisions? How would these affect members — positively and negatively? (section 6.1.a)
  • What implications do the recommended changes to Chapter organization have for our San Diego Chapter? (section 6.1.b)
  • Are the recommendations for securing immediate operating funds for  SLA Headquarters appropriate? Should SLA HQ plan to access unit funds to avoid deficit? (section 7.1)
Discussion attendees are encouraged to come prepared by reading the full recommendations and noting any particular areas that merit discussion. We will have several copies of the recommendations on hand just in case they’re needed. If anyone is unable to attend but has discussion points to offer, please send them along to me, and I will pose them to our group.


Event Summary
What: SLA Strategic Recommendations Discussion Session
When: Monday, June 8, 4:30 – 6:00 pm
Where: Ashford University
           8620 Spectrum Center Blvd
           San Diego, CA 92123
           **Note: Elizabeth Grossman, Ashford’s Senior Director of Library Services, will greet attendees in the Ashford lobby beginning at 4:15 pm. We will be meeting in a 10th floor conference room. Light refreshments of cookies, coffee, and water will be served!
Questions: contact, 630.251.3735


Please RSVP to Amy at:


Thank you – and I hope to see you next week!


Amy Jankowski
2015 President
SLA San Diego Chapter

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Competitive Intelligence: Interview with Dolly Goulart

Dolly Goulart is Director of Research & Analysis at the Qualcomm Library.


  1. How do you define Competitive Intelligence, and what does it encompass?

To me, competitive intelligence is the practice of proactively identifying trends or behaviors in companies or markets of interest. It’s rather difficult to accurately predict the future, but through various intelligence methods, one can start to identify key themes that can then help create a story or help to predict future areas of focus. It’s all about using information to help understand the landscape in a way that isn’t readily obvious.

  1. What kinds of organizations use CI? Within those organizations, who are the primary consumers of CI?

I think all organizations use CI to an extent. Even a mom-and-pop business uses CI when they look at other providers of the same service – what do the other providers charge, how long are they open, how can we charge less? Any business launching a new initiative, competing for market share, or simply trying to improve their own product(s) should be actively engaged in CI.  To which extent is largely determined by what they are trying to achieve. CI in the traditional sense is thought to be consumed by strategists and decision-makers in groups like corporate finance, business development, or marketing. However, it stands to reason that most employees benefit from some amount of competitive intelligence as it can help shape a product/business strategy at all levels of the organization and across all departments.

  1. What kind of sources do you turn to for information? Do you use data analytics, or social media, and if so, how?

Intelligence can come from multiple angles. If one is gathering information from just one source, regardless if it’s a public resource or a subscription database, it isn’t intelligence – it’s information. Someone needs to do something with it to make it intelligence. Looking at a variety of sources and identifying patterns or trends is very important. Relying on just news is inappropriate, one should also be looking at additional sources of information relevant to the business/market they’re investigating – sources such as regulatory filings, analyst insight, product sales information, hiring trends, etc. In terms of analytics, I think they’re important when you can use them to distinguish change. Many people talk about the importance of looking at social media for CI. It may be useful, but it only reflects one point in time. Typically, it’s very difficult to easily find a truly useful nugget of information from social media. However, being able to analyze differences in social media across time periods is very important. Were they talking about these issues last year, or does it appear to be a new area of focus? Using analytics for the high volume of information typically found in social media is extremely helpful.

  1. What skills are necessary to be a successful CI librarian?

The standard skills that makes anyone a good researcher also applies to CI, at least in terms of locating information. However, the trait that makes someone successful at CI is curiosity. If one is curious, they find themselves asking different questions and following different trails. Because of this, they oftentimes uncover information that wasn’t readily obvious from the sources they started with. That’s the key – being curious enough to uncover something different and savvy enough to know what to do with it.

  1. How do you communicate the results of your research to decision makers?

Results can be communicated in a variety of ways, it really depends on the audience and the nature of the project. When our team is relaying results on a project, we always try to package it in an organized way that allows the client to quickly make a decision. What we don’t want to do is spend time doing research only to provide the client with an overwhelming amount of information that they then have to try to find the answer in. Again, if you haven’t done anything with the information, you haven’t turned it into intelligence…you’re still just relaying information. The act of identifying key points, trends or takeaways moves you closer to providing intelligence and makes it easier for the client to move forward.



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UCSD Librarian Shadow Day


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NOAA SW Fisheries Program Review

SLA-San Diego Chapter tour group

SLA-San Diego Chapter tour group

We reeled them in! Our “tour boat” returned from a two hour adventure at the NOAA Science Center stocked with information we will keep for a lifetime.

SLA-San Diego Chapter members got a VIP, behind-the scenes tour of NOAA SW Fisheries.  The group tour was led by an award-winning scientist and renowned captain – Dr. Roger Hewitt.  Dr. Roger Hewitt has led dozens of expeditions and field surveys throughout the world over a career spanning more than 40 years.  We were lucky enough to learn from his experience as he took us through the back halls, labs, and libraries that tell the story of what makes NOAA SW Fisheries Center a world class research facility.

It’s new! The original laboratory had been in a precarious position on the edge of a 200-foot cliff and needed to be moved. The new laboratory contains 38 research laboratories, including an experimental aquarium, a large animal necropsy lab, a specimen processing lab, a photogrammetry lab, an ichthyoplankton lab, genetic labs, physiology labs, oceanographic labs, specimen archives, electronic workshops and a unique large test tank facility for testing new sampling technologies, plus a library, conference rooms and office space for 275 scientists and support staff.  Our group got to see the inner workings!

Our in-depth tour also provided us with a better understanding about the scientist’s responsibilities.  These include, to name a few: maintaining healthy fish stocks for commercial fishing, conserving and recovering populations of protected species and restoring marine habitat.

Ah yes, and then, the library… Someone has to organize all this research and keep a well-stocked collection of resources to make the scientist’s job easier!  Special thanks for Ms. Debra Losey for opening her beautifully maintained library up for our viewing.   We learned how much planning went into this new functional space that now serves as the information hub of the center.

And those views!  I’ll save that for another blog entry.

The fun didn’t end there – tour members carried on the theme of the day by ordering up some excellent seafood at El Pescador Fish Market.  I thought it turned out to be the perfect way to give credit to our ocean conservationists!

Good times. Eileen Schnur, Your SLA-SD President Elect 2015


NOAA Tour 4NOAA Tour 2NOAA Tour 6NOAA Tour 5

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Medical Librarianship: Interview with Donna Dutton

This month, we interviewed Donna Dutton, the Medical Sciences Librarian at the Wilkins Biomedical Library, part of the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) at Naval Base Point Loma.

What is the NHRC?

NHRC is the Department of Defense’s (DoD) premier deployment health research center specializing in research and development efforts that support our nation’s armed forces. Scientists and researchers at NHRC focus on military population health, operational readiness, and operational infectious diseases, and execute the DoD’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP) within the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). We lead some of the nation’s largest military research efforts including the Millennium Cohort Study, the Millennium Cohort Family Study, and the Wounded Warrior Recovery Project.

Wow, that’s a lot of acronyms! How does the library support these programs? Who is your primary community of users?

The Wilkins Biomedical Library supports all of these efforts through our collection of print and online resources. We currently have one librarian and two staff members on the library team. Our patron community represents a variety of scientific and medical professionals, including PhD scientists, licensed physical therapists, registered nurses, research and clinical psychologists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, public health professionals, physiologists, and more.

Many of your patrons are advanced specialists doing cutting edge research. Do you have special medical training? Or is such training even necessary?

I do not have any special medical training. Most of what I know I have leaned on the job and by taking various seminars and workshops through library professional societies like SLA and MLA. Before attending library school, I worked as an administrative assistant at the VA Medical Center and the UCSD Cancer Center. Those jobs were my original exposure to medicine and medical terminology. Part of my duties were to retrieve library materials and do Medline searches. I loved that aspect of the job and it is what inspired me to go to library school and specialize in the biomedical area. It is certainly helpful to have a medical/science background to be a medical librarian, but it is not essential.

How is your library different from medical libraries in civilian hospitals or research universities? Are there unique aspects to working for the military?

One difference is that we don’t have patients on site at NHRC, so we don’t need general library materials to serve a community of patients and their families, as many hospital libraries do. The research support is very similar to a research university. We differ in that we don’t have a large student population, although we regularly see student interns come through from the local colleges and universities. I am required to have a government security clearance – I guess that is one unique aspect of working for the military.

Tell us a little more about your duties as librarian.

My duties include providing reference, organizing training sessions on using our tools and resources, developing the collection, and providing outreach to our user community. We are an active participant in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine and lend materials from our unique collection on a regular basis as well as borrow from our fellow NLM libraries as needed. I joined NHRC earlier this year after a period where they did not have a professional librarian on staff; so currently, a good portion of my time is also spent working with our IT department to ensure that the resources (catalog, e-journals, link resolver, and databases) are functioning as they should. We are about to migrate to a new online catalog, and have a facility move on the horizon (creating a centralized collaborative commons area where researchers can meet and engage together) — so there is a lot going on to keep me busy.

What do you like most about your job?

I love knowing that I can play a part in the scientific research and discovery process. Here at NHRC, I am motivated by knowing that the library supports research that in turn benefits our country’s service men and women.

Donna has worked at the NHRC since March, after an assessment of the library revealed the need to have a professional librarian on staff. Previously, Donna worked at Amylin Pharmaceuticals, a local biotech company. She holds an MLIS from UCLA. Donna has been a member of SLA since 1993, and participates in the Military division. She is currently serving as Employment Chair and previously served as PR Chair for the San Diego Chapter.

#MyMission Donna Dutton 140312


-Tim Gladson, SLA San Diego Communications Committee

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SLA-SD 2015 Slate for Open Positions

Open positions for 2015 San Diego Chapter Board of Directors include President Elect and Co-Directors. 

The Nominations Committee, chaired by Past President, Talitha Matlin, are pleased to announce the following slate:

President Elect

Eileen Schnur is the Director for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Command Library (SPAWAR).  She served as the Reference and Outreach Librarian in dual command capacity with Naval Postgraduate School and SPAWAR before assuming the role as Director.  She started out her career as a Library Media Coordinator for a k-8 school.   Eileen has also gained experience as an academic librarian, working for Texas A & M’s Bell Library as a Reference Librarian just out of library school.  Her current professional volunteer experience includes serving on the Executive Board as the elected Navy/Marine Corps Service Director for SLA’s Division of Military Libraries, as well as SLA-SD Chapter’s Vendor Coordinator. She also holds certifications as a teacher and school librarian in the states of California and North Carolina. 


Penny Coppernoll-Blach is the Biomedical Reference Librarian at the UC San Diego Library, where she has worked for over 12 years.  She has also held positions at CP Kelco, Dialog, and University of Illinois at Chicago Library of the Health Sciences.  She was a Director for SLA-SD back in 2006 and has also served in the past as Membership Chair for several years.

Deborah Kegel has worked at UCSD Libraries for over 25 years. She currently serves as Librarian for Astronomy, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Physics; and is the Physical Sciences and Engineering Reference Coordinator. Prior to this, her job responsibilities included Head of Public Services, Interim Department Head, and Collections Coordinator for the UCSD Science & Engineering Library. Deborah earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and mathematics at Wake Forest University, and an MA in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the MLS at Indiana University. Professional affiliations include Special Libraries Association, Physics-Astronomy-Math Division and San Diego Chapter; and the American Society for Engineering Education, Engineering Libraries Division.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the SLA-SD Nominating Committee,

Talitha Matlin

Cindy Shamel

Amy Jankowski

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Law Librarianship: Interview with SANDALL

In this interview, three members of the San Diego Area Law Libraries network (SANDALL) discuss the unique aspects of law librarianship. Our panelists’ credentials are given at the end of the article.


How many law librarians are there in San Diego? Who employs law librarians?


Lisa Foster: I don’t have a figure for all law librarians in San Diego, but the SANDALL membership last year was around 110. I believe all of the local law schools and courts (superior, federal, and appellate) have law librarians who manage their law libraries and assist patrons with research. Likewise, several of the larger local law firms employ law librarians. A handful of corporate libraries, such as the one at Qualcomm, hire librarians with a legal background to conduct patent research.


Do you need a JD or paralegal training to work as a law librarian?


Betsy Chessler: In law firms, there is a mix of credentials. Some law firm librarians have JDs, and some, like myself, have paralegal experience. Almost all have MLIS degrees.


Lisa: At TJSL, and other academic law libraries I am familiar with, we also have a mix of credentials. Most of us who do reference work and teach have a dual JD/MLIS. Some of the librarians in technical services (such as cataloging) have the MLIS but no JD. We also have one librarian with a JD only, and another with JD/MLIS and LLM (advanced law degree). A mixed bag. The same was true when I worked at the San Diego (County) Law Library. The librarians there have mixed credentials.


Michele Knapp: Use and understanding of legal materials and research can be learned through on-the-job training. However, educational requirements vary depending on the organization. At USD, all of our reference librarians and administrators have a JD, but most of our technical services librarians do not. In my experience, it is mixed at most libraries. It is more common for academic law libraries to require a JD than it is for court, law firm, or corporate libraries.


How is law librarianship distinct from other library specialties? Are the differences primarily in reference services, or do they extend to collection development and technical services?


Lisa: In my opinion, the only thing that distinguishes law library work from other library specialties is the specialized legal resources that we work with. I think there are more similarities among the library specialties than differences. Other librarians such as corporate librarians also perform research, and sometimes it is legal in nature (such as patent research). Our reference work follows the same principles that are used in public and general academic libraries. As with medical or engineering libraries, however, some subject specialization is definitely helpful.


Michele: Not only do we assist students with research in their academic studies; we also train them to use resources as legal practitioners. Materials used in the practice of law are quite different than those used in academia. Given a lawyer’s ethical duty to clients, we teach the importance of doing a complete job with legal research and of determining whether a law is still valid.


Betsy: Law librarians need to not only know what legal resources are available, but also how they interact with each other, and what the legal process is. Is this a primary source (statute, case, regulation), or a secondary source (treatise, commentary, etc.)? Is this a state or federal matter? Or something else, like tribal law? And of course you need to know how to update everything.


What specialized research services do law librarians provide? Is the work similar to that of a paralegal?


Betsy: I work for a large law firm (1000+ lawyers) and we answer a wide range of questions about lawsuits, witnesses, companies, intellectual property, and legislative history, in addition to general factual research. We also do the typical ILL requests, where we obtain scientific articles and legal treatises. We also gather competitive intelligence and marketing information. Sometimes we do handle paralegal requests.


Lisa: In an academic law library, doing legal research is not our core function. Our core function is to teach the law students to do their own legal research, so we do not do research for them. We help them locate the resources they need to do their own research, and we help them learn to use the resources. When I do research, it is usually to assist a faculty member with a project, or to prepare my own instructional materials.


Michele: My work involves instructing students on legal research methods and strategies and teaching legal research in the classroom. Our reference department offers a series of legal tech talks to educate students and faculty on current technology tools and trends. I work with members of our three student-run law journals, assisting them with citation-checking, choosing paper topics, and understanding best practices in publishing. I assist faculty members with their research. Additionally, I manage interlibrary loan operations. This includes obtaining materials from other institutions for USD students, staff, and faculty and sharing our materials with other libraries. We participate in interlibrary loan with numerous types of libraries — academic, corporate, government — many of which are not law libraries.


Do you sometimes have difficulty drawing a line between the research of a librarian and the analysis of lawyer?


Betsy: Our research requests are getting more and more complex, and I think they do sometimes stray into analysis that a lawyer should handle. In that case, we provide preliminary information and tell the attorney that he or she needs to determine the legal ramifications of any information provided.


Lisa: In law library work, it is important not to cross the line between providing research assistance and giving legal advice. That has not been a problem for me in the academic library, but it was more difficult when I worked for the County’s public law library. A lot of the patrons there are laypeople handling their own cases, and they often misunderstand the librarian’s role. Members of the general public frequently asked for information that would constitute legal advice (such as what forms to use for their case). We told them that we could not provide legal advice, but instead helped them find the books or online resources that would help them discover the answers to their own questions.


Michele: Usually, it is easy to draw that line. More often, the difficult part is getting the patron to realize the limits of our assistance. I have worked with patrons who want an answer to a legal question, although they do not always realize that what they are asking for constitutes legal advice. I cannot provide such information, even though I am trained as a lawyer. When this situation arises, I explain that although I cannot offer legal advice, I can direct them to materials that may help them. When it is clear that a patron needs legal assistance, I offer referrals to local agencies that may be able to provide them with representation. Unfortunately, a growing percentage of the population cannot afford to hire an attorney, so we see more and more pro se litigants in the library.


What do you enjoy most about being a law librarian?


Betsy: I like the variety of questions. I never know what will pop up in my inbox each day. I also have had the opportunity to work on many pro bono projects (legal work for the public good), which has included research on villages in Ethiopia and background for Supreme Court amicus briefs.


Lisa: I enjoy several aspects of law librarianship. Like Betsy, I like the variety and the fact that I am always learning. I like being able to use my legal background to help people, without the stress or long hours of practicing law. I like working with law students, and teaching them research skills. I like the collegiality of the profession. Librarians are very service-oriented, and are always willing to help each other, even between different institutions.


Michele: Like Betsy, I enjoy the variety of tasks and research involved in the job. Every day is different and the law is always changing, so I never get bored. Teaching, whether in the classroom or in an informal setting, offers endless rewards. Seeing the light bulb go on above a student’s head when they understand how to use a resource or how to choose the best research strategy is particularly satisfying. Additionally, I enjoy meeting and collaborating with other librarians. I am fortunate to be able to attend conferences and participate in committee work, all of which has introduced me to smart, creative people with innovative ideas.


What is SANDALL? What events do you have coming up?


Lisa: SANDALL is the San Diego chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries. Our next seminar will be in January on the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA). Additionally, we host a monthly “Buddies” luncheon that pairs professional law librarians with library students, new librarians, and other information professionals who are interested in the field of law librarianship. We host social events several times a year, usually at the holidays and in the summer. We have other committees such as Social Responsibility (planning public service activities and events that members can participate in) and Advocacy (keeping members informed about political and legal issues important to librarians, and taking positions on issues such as pending legislation of interest to librarians).


Michele: SANDALL offers library tours and educational programs as well. This year, I am working on group tours of the Salk Institute and a local museum. I look forward to collaborating with SLA-SD and attending the Networking Happy Hour in October. We welcome new members, whether or not they work in a law library. Currently, we are beginning a new membership year. For more information, please see


Thank you so much for your time.


Lisa Foster is a Reference Librarian at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She holds a JD from California Western School of Law, and practiced municipal law in the San Diego area for 23 years. Michele Knapp is the current Vice President of SANDALL, and works as the Reference and Interlibrary Loan Librarian at the University of San Diego Legal Research Center. She holds a JD and practiced criminal defense law. Betsy Chessler is a research analyst at Morrison & Foerster, LLP, a general service law firm with over 1000 attorneys and 17 offices worldwide. She worked as a paralegal for six years before becoming a law librarian, and is a former president of SANDALL. All 3 earned their MLIS from the University of Washington.


Local Law Libraries



-Tim Gladson, SLA San Diego Communications Committee

Posted in NewsComments Off on Law Librarianship: Interview with SANDALL

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