Megan Siu, Community Development & Education Specialist, Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA)
Tell us a little about your educational background and how you entered the legal information industry.
I am a new professional in the field of law librarianship with 3 years of professional library experience under my belt. I received a BA in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Alberta in 2013 and an MLIS from the University of Western Ontario in 2014.
I have an older brother with intellectual and developmental disabilities who is very near and dear to my heart. Almost all my life, I’ve been exposed to the policies, laws, and regulations that impact how he lives his life. When I had to start thinking about what I wanted to do career-wise, law was definitely on my mind, but I wasn’t entirely sure about how I wanted to pursue it. During the summer of my first year in university, it was pretty tough to find a job. With a bit of desperation, I pulled up a list of law firms and other law-related bodies in Edmonton and reached out to them about any opportunities they had. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up finding anything for that summer, but I received a tip about a part-time library assistant position at the courthouse during the regular school year. That fall, I started working for the Alberta Law Libraries in Edmonton and it is still one of my favourite places of employment to date. Near the end of my undergraduate degree, a mentor suggested that I apply for library school. After finding out that such a thing existed, I jumped at the opportunity and spent the following year working towards my MLIS at Western University in London, Ontario.
While I was in library school, I tried to keep my options open and diversified the courses I was taking and even found a part-time job at an academic library. However, when I graduated, my heart was still set on law libraries. Shortly after moving back to Edmonton, I started my first professional library job as the solo librarian for a mid-sized law firm in Edmonton where I worked for a year and a half. I am now employed by CPLEA, a not-for-profit organization that aims to help vulnerable communities understand their legal rights and responsibilities through public legal education and I’m loving every minute of it!
How has being involved in CALL helped you professionally (e.g. scholarships & grants, continuing education, networking)?
While I was exposed to CALL/ACBD through the student branch at the University of Western Ontario, I really started becoming familiar with the Association when I started my first law librarian job. Being a solo librarian is hard, especially when you’re new to the profession and don’t have anyone to show you the ropes. I was the only person in the office with a library background, so making informed decisions and proving my worth was quite challenging at times. CALL/ACBD has supplied me with many official and unofficial mentors, who I am eternally grateful for. These mentors have provided me with much support, which has continued to help me grow and test my potential. I also feel so fortunate to have received the Eunice Beeson Memorial Travel Fund to assist my attendance at the CALL/ACBD Annual Conference, where I learned from and networked with esteemed law librarians and legal information professionals from across Canada. I appreciate the diverse set of internal committees and special interest groups – I’m currently involved with the Membership Development Committee, Webinar Sub-Committee, and New Professionals SIG. I’m very excited to be spending the next 2 years co-chairing the 2019 CALL/ACBD Conference Planning Committee alongside my fellow co-chair and mentor, Josette McEachern and working with the rest of our Edmonton superstar crew!
What are three things on your bucket list?
- I would like to visit every province and territory in Canada at least once and I’m getting there. I just have Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador to go!
- My late maternal grandfather was an oil paint artist and art professor in Hong Kong and the Philippines. I would really like to visit some of the places that my grandfather painted to really take in his artwork and see how the landscapes have changed over time.
- I’m very new to gardening, but there is something so satisfying about literally harvesting the fruits of your labour. So far, I’ve grown a single cherry tomato plant on my balcony. I’d like to branch out to other produce!
What’s one change in the profession or industry you’ve embraced?
The versatility of the MLIS degree! As technology advances, so does the entire field of library and information science. People with MLIS degrees aren’t all necessarily traditional librarians anymore. Nowadays, in addition to traditional librarians in the streams of public, academic, and special libraries, librarians are information managers, project managers, records managers, knowledge managers, information specialists, researchers, and more!
What are three skills/attributes you think legal information professionals need to have?
- Receptive – to learning and to new ideas
- Communicative – to clientele, colleagues, and higher-ups and in various formats
- Willing to advocate – for the profession and for colleagues (both new and experienced)