Reflection on the LLNE Fall Meeting

by Rebecca Valentine, Associate Librarian, UMass Law

The fall meeting topic The Fog of War: International and Foreign Legal Research was certainly timely; I think more than anyone realized it would be at the time it was organized. The keynote and subsequent four sessions approached the topic differently, but still shared the common theme of the ways emerging technologies are impacting aspects of international law and information.

However, I must admit that my biggest take away was not just that we need to consider the impact of technology on information, disinformation, and the dissemination of both. But something more personal. About six months ago I transitioned from being a reference archivist to being a public services librarian at the UMass Law Library. While I loved the collections and the work I was doing at the archives, it was time to move on to learn new skills and better utilize the research skills I had already built up.

Entering the field of law librarianship has been both a challenge and a pleasure. The work can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to learning the vocabulary needed to help students and faculty. Sometimes I need to do an hour of research before I can even begin working on the reference question I received. Those situations can be a blow to my confidence in my reference and research abilities.

But one thing I have found comforting, is that the work of public services remains the same; and when I have had the chance to talk to other librarians about these public services, my legal vocabulary doesn’t matter.

One of the chances I recently received to have these discussions was the LLNE 2023 Fall Conference. What I found there was that law librarianship, more than almost any other field I’ve worked in, has been one of the most welcoming and supportive to newer librarians. While I had the privilege of being there with a colleague who facilitated introductions, I don’t think that would have changed the graciousness of the other librarians. Upon being introduced to many different people from all over New England, each librarian was willing to talk to me about the work I’m doing at UMass Law, and the work I would like to do in the future.

The experience made me realize that while I may not know all the buzzwords, keywords, or headnotes, all of that will come with time. But the skills I do have, mean that my work is still good and valuable. From participating in the Service Committee and helping to decide on and promote the fall service project, to attending the conference, being a part of LLNE has made me feel assured in my new career.

Interview with LLNE Spring Meeting Speaker Justin Simard, Michigan State University College of Law

We are so excited for the LLNE / SNELLA Spring 2022 Meeting! In anticipation of our day at Yale Law School discussing Critical Law Librarianship, we hope you enjoy this interview with the keynote speaker:

Justin Simard is an Assistant Professor of Law at the MSU College of Law where he teaches Professional Responsibility, Commercial Law, and Legal History and directs the Citing Slavery Project. Justin has a B.A. in History from Rice University, a J.D. and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Pennsylvania.
  1. Tell us a fun fact about yourself! I’m a host for a breeding mom for Leader Dogs for the Blind. That means that I help whelp and raise future guide dogs. Here’s a link that describes our work: Voices of the Leader Dog Community: Lauren Eckberg and Justin Simard – Leader Dogs for the Blind
  2. What is your favorite Michigan spot and why? I’ve only been in Michigan for a couple of years, so I haven’t had the chance to explore as much as I’d like. Bath, a town near East Lansing, has some great dirt roads for running and trails for cross country skiing. That might be my favorite spot so far.
  3. Do you have any pets? Yes. In addition to the breeding mom, Java, who is a black lab, I have two cats: Ella and Mäusel.
  4. What is your favorite hobby? I enjoy distance running.
  5. What do you enjoy most about being a law librarian? My favorite thing about being a professor is exploring ideas that are important to me and sharing them with my students and others. I love talking with law librarians because of our shared interests in legal research and citation.
  6. How did you end up where you are, doing what you’re doing? How did you end up in your specialty? I developed an interest in American intellectual history in college thanks to Professor Thomas Haskell, whose class I took in my first semester at Rice University. I had also been interested in the law, and Professor Haskell encouraged me to pursue a J.D. in addition to a Ph.D. In graduate school, my advisor, Professor Sarah Barringer Gordon, introduced me to the graduates of the Litchfield Law School. Using them as a starting point, I ended up studying how the legal profession’s work drafting agreements, performing due diligence, securing notes, and giving advice shaped the American economy. This commercial role brought lawyers into direct contact with the law of slavery. When I found out that some of the opinions they wrote were still being cited today, I began to study that influence and catalog it at
  7. What do you think is one of the most important aspects of critical law librarianship? It is important to examine what is often unexamined. Critical law librarianship can encourage the legal profession to reflect on what it often takes for granted.

LLNE Scholarship Application is EXTENDED to May 20th!

Greetings LLNE Members!

The members of the LLNE Scholarship Committee would like to invite you to apply for our open scholarships. We encourage you to apply for any (or all) of the scholarships listed below. LLNE Scholarships are available to attend or access the annual AALL or biannual LLNE meetings; for participation in continuing education/training opportunities; and for those seeking a degree in librarianship. Descriptions of our scholarship opportunities are listed below and on the LLNE website.  

Basic Scholarship information:

  • Meeting Scholarship: Help with registration fees or travel expenses, for LLNE members who wish to attend the Spring LLNE Meeting being held this June at Yale Law School, or the AALL meeting being held this July in Denver, CO.
  • Academic Scholarship: LLNE members who are enrolled in an accredited degree program in Library Science or in an ABA-accredited law school are eligible for one of our academic scholarships.
  • Continuing Education Scholarship: LLNE  members who wish to access continuing education and training opportunities beyond the programming offered at our biannual LLNE meetings and the annual AALL meetings may apply for one of our continuing education scholarships.

The application criteria and the application form can be found here, (LLNE scholarship guidelines and application process), and the application deadline has been extended to next Friday, May 20th. Please contact Dawn Smith at if you need more information.

Again, we encourage you to apply!

Posted on behalf of the Scholarship Committee