Student Marianne Sterna Wins Scholarship and Sets Her Sights on Law Librarianship

Marianne Sterna, SLIS student and winner of a 2009 American Association of Law Librarians (AALL) award – the LexisNexis/John R. Johnson Memorial Scholarship – started out as a clerk at San Diego’s Office of County Counsel. But through research, networking, and hard work, she’s forged a new role as law librarian.

“They had never thought about having a real librarian in the office,” Sterna said. “I’m trying to show them what it’s like.”

Sterna learned the ropes of law librarianship by joining her local chapter of AALL, the San Diego Association of Law Libraries (SANDALL), where she sought out mentors and visited nine law libraries to witness how they work. She took those lessons back to the office and began to incorporate reference services, a newsletter, and budget analysis into her job. Sterna intends to add even more services as she continues her studies at SLIS, such as RSS feeds of relevant legal news.

“I want to help my co-workers know what’s going on in relevant legal areas and give them information quicker,” she said.

Through SANDALL, Sterna found her LIBR-294 Professional Experience for Fall 2009, which will give her hands-on experience with digitization and electronic records management. She’ll work with a librarian at the University of San Diego to help digitize an oral history of the law school’s notable alumni and professors.

On top of the internship and coursework, Sterna juggles her full-time job at the Office of County Council with raising five children, who range in age from 10-year-old twins to 17.

Sterna counts two WISE (www.wiseeducation.org ) courses she took in Fall 2008 among some of her most valuable experiences so far in her SLIS education: a theology librarianship class through the University of Illinois and a legal resources class at Syracuse University. According to Sterna, the theology class sparked new ways for her to look at librarianship. “In theological colleges, librarianship is viewed as ministry that seeks to lead people to wisdom,” she said. “As a librarian, you want to inspire people to go deeper and further in their search for knowledge.”

The $3,000 scholarship was presented at AALL’s annual conference in Washington D.C. in July 2009, and Sterna found out in early June that she won a travel award to attend. The association awards the scholarship to library science degree candidates “with meaningful law library experience” and the intent of going into law librarianship (http://www.aallnet.org/).