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Daniel F. Cracchiolo Law Library Blog: Blog

From iSchool to Law Librarianship: The Fellows Program

by Francesco Fasano on 2022-05-17T13:33:00-07:00 | Comments


July marks one year of being in Tucson and my time here at the Cracchiolo Law Library. As the semester’s end rapidly approaches and the library winds down from a whirlwind of projects, I want to write some thoughts down about the Fellows program here at the law library and encourage students from the iSchool to come visit the library and learn more about law librarianship. 


A quick background on the Fellows program. Historically, the program was tailored towards folks who have completed a J.D. degree that wanted to pivot into law librarianship. This recently changed under the leadership of our Library Director, Teresa Miguel-Stearns and the Director of the Fellows Program, Cynthia Condit. The program is expanding to be more inclusive of individuals with diverse backgrounds to meet the shifting needs of the profession. The program may accept applicants who do not have a J.D. degree or who are only exploring the possibility of a career in law librarianship. Fellows work as paid reference librarians, part-time at 20 hours a week, while completing their LIS degree


Fundamentally, we are devoted to providing research support for faculty, staff, and students as well as general reference services for the public. Research support comes in many forms, from fielding in-person and emailed questions sent to the reference desk, to taking deep-dives into faculty research projects. Common reference questions you may be asked by students are as simple as locating appellate briefs for historic cases, or as complex as assisting in preemption when they are writing a substantial paper. 


Faculty projects are incredibly diverse and offer a unique opportunity to hone interdisciplinary research skills. There isn’t a reliance on traditional legal research skills when conducting faculty research because they often require the utilization of a vast array of sources, such as medical journals, reports published by NGOs, and open access databases. That is not to say there won’t be simple case charts, but the meat and potatoes of research will be a more challenging endeavor. The Fellows program also provides avenues to hone in specialized and advanced research skills. I have TA’d in a course on foreign and international legal research with Marcelo Rodríguez and developed material for a class on administrative law with a focus on immigration with Sarah Gotschall. There are also opportunities to learn more about data and artificial intelligence with Cas Laskowski and advance legal research methods with Shaun Esposito


Fellows commit to service to the library beyond research and reference. Fellows will typically be active participants on various library committees, whether compiling resources for the Professional Development Committee, updating development policies for the Collection Development Committee, or interviewing candidates for  search committees. Much of the work of committees is vital to keeping the library functioning and gives Fellows agency at the institutional level. 


Apart from these set functions, the law library fosters a culture that allows for a high degree of professional development and job crafting. The library has a strong culture of support for its Fellows. If there is an opportunity we would like to pursue, or an ambitious project we've dreamt up, there are wonderful colleagues cheering us on and fanning the flames of our ideas. For myself, this has manifested in a few different ways. I have had ample opportunities for writing and scholarship, whether it is a book review, collaborating on a textbook chapter with my colleagues Jen Bedier and Hannah Plotkin,  or even blog posts like this on legislative history research. Additionally, one of my many favorite aspects of working at the library is the development of exhibits with materials from Special Collections with our Archivist, Jaime Valenzuela. These have included an exhibit on the Bisbee Deportation Case and an exhibit on the Supreme Court case, United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, 448 U.S. 371 (1980).


The network of Fellows runs far and wide in law libraries across the country. Access to this network is one of the strongest appeals of the fellowship. When searching for details about an institution or a future employer, there is a high probability that somebody knows someone who can give candid advice. The ability to tap into this collective knowledge demystifies job searches and stifles concerns about employment after finishing the programs. There are a wide range of open positions available in law libraries across the country and there is a need for new librarians to come fill these roles. 

If you would like to know more about the Fellows Program, please visit our webpage here. We are always looking for new folks to come learn about this exciting, rich field of law librarianship. If you have any questions please feel free to email me or swing by the reference desk at the Cracchiolo Law Library. Hope to hear from you!


As always, if you have any research related questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us! We are happy to help here at the law library

You have 24/7 access to the library via your CatCard. Email us for all research/reference questions, research appointment scheduling, and ALL QUESTIONS: reference@law-arizona.libanswers.com

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