The first time alum Elyse Meyers attended the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), she was still a student. But the second time she went, in July 2013, it was as a recent graduate and newly minted law librarian.
She’d attended the 2012 meeting as a student in the school’s Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program. A May 2013 graduate, Meyers went to work right away in two university law libraries, and when she started making plans to attend the 2013 meeting, she learned she was eligible for an AALL scholarship that would cover the conference fee.
Meyers is also a member of the Southern California Association of Law Libraries (SCALL), which paid for her plane ticket and hotel room for the four-day conference in Seattle.
“They were both very generous and made a big difference,” Meyers said.
The conference brings together different kinds of law librarians, she said, such as those practicing in academic or corporate law libraries. They attend sessions on topics like technology, research and leadership, and there’s a vendor hall showcasing new products.
But besides the programming, Meyers said, the most valuable aspect of the conference was the opportunity to talk with lots of other law librarians.
“It’s not a large field, so it’s nice to meet people who have the same focus and share ideas,” she said. “The best thing for me was being in an environment where a lot of other people have made the same career choice. It’s a really collegial community. So just going to a place where people want to meet other people and share ideas is really motivating, and very exciting.”
Meyers did her undergraduate work at the University of California-Berkeley, earning a bachelor’s degree in linguistics with a minor in Spanish language and literature. She then earned her law degree at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
She practiced law for almost four years before starting the MLIS program in fall 2011. She had realized what she enjoyed most about law was the research involved, and when she learned about the field of academic law librarianship, she knew she’d found her niche.
While working on her MLIS, Meyers served on the staff of the SLIS Student Research Journal, published twice yearly. She was a copy editor during her second semester, moving up to editor-in-chief her second year.
“One of the best things about working on the journal was working with [faculty advisor] Dr. Anthony Bernier,” she said. “There’s so much to learn from him, watching him be as dedicated as he is to the journal. And also I learned a ton about how to run a journal, and manage people, and think about scholarship.”
Meyers said she also worked with “a great team of people,” and learned about areas of library and information science scholarship that she wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise.
Also during her MLIS studies, Meyers completed a couple of law library internships: at the University of Southern California in fall 2012 and the University of California-Los Angeles in spring 2013. Both libraries happened to have job openings shortly before she graduated, and she was hired at both places. She works half time at each university, making for a full-time schedule.
At USC, Meyers teaches legal research to law students, helps develop the legal research course curriculum, and works with general librarians at the reference desk. At UCLA, she co-administers a research assistant program, for which she hires, trains and supervises student research assistants and prepares training materials. She also conducts research and works on special projects for faculty.
Meyers said she enjoys being able to take something she learns at one job and using it at the other job.
“I have a lot of great people to learn from,” she said. “I love working in an academic environment, I love being of service to faculty and academia, and it’s exciting to me to still be part of legal thinking but in a different capacity. It’s the perfect transition. I could not be happier.”
“Anthony [Bernier] was very influential. I came into SLIS knowing what I wanted to do, but he had so much to share with me about what to expect in the hiring process and how to prepare. He was an excellent mentor in that sense.
“An influential class was LIBR 244 Online Searching. That class was a great transition for me from the type of searching and researching I’d done as a lawyer to the type I’d need to do as a librarian. It helped undo some really bad habits I’d developed.”
“When people are in school, particularly people like me who didn’t have any library experience, they should try to do an internship. I got both my jobs because I interned at these places.
I also think doing something like working on the Student Research Journal or something in addition to your schoolwork to distinguish you a little bit is helpful. For people interested in law librarianship, I think it’s well worth getting in touch with the local chapter of a professional association and getting out there and meeting people in the field.”
“The online searching class has been very helpful. I think it makes you able to use online resources more effectively. Also, I was very glad to have had a little experience doing some short screencasting in library school. That’s been something that’s really valuable as I’ve transitioned to my job.”
“I’ve been to three law library conferences. SCALL also does its own conference. I’ve not attended a bad conference yet.”