Anne C. Matthewman, Chief Law Librarian & Assoc. University Librarian | Sir James Dunn Law Library, University of Dalhousie
Tell us a little about your educational background and how you entered the legal information industry
I attended the University of Windsor, (Hons B.A. in English and History), and the University of Western Ontario, (MLS). As I was finishing my undergraduate degree I was not sure what to do next but I did know I did not want to go to teachers’ college which my parents had suggested. A friend mentioned library school and that seemed like an feasible idea. When I graduated I got a part-time job at the Essex law Association in Windsor. They had never had a librarian before and I talked myself into a fulltime job. While I was there, I did an M.A. in English at the University of Windsor. I had a brief stint in the public library system and then returned to law libraries with the Toronto Lawyers Association and then the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University.
How has being involved in CALL helped you professionally (e.g. scholarships & grants, continuing education, networking)?
I think it was mostly the continuing education opportunities which led to networking which then led to being asked to serve on committees and the Executive Board. I learned a lot about the profession and being a professional from the examples of others. The Annual Conferences and workshops (both for CALL/ACBD and AALL) increased my knowledge level considerably. As the profession has evolved, being involved with Associations helped me move along with all the new developments and changes. I would never have accomplished these things on my own.
What was your first job or your first library-related job?
It was both my first job and my first library-related job. I worked as a page at the John Richardson Children’s Library in Windsor, Ontario during high school. Another page at the same library was Gail Brown, a fellow CALL/ACBD member. We also lived across the street from one another but went to different schools. What I remember most about that job was the endless mending of children’s books.
What are three skills/attributes you think legal information professionals need to have?
An ability and desire for continuous learning - often on the fly - as we are frequently asked research questions about things we know very little about. Fortunately, we know how to find out! When I first started out in a one-person library I learned a lot about the law from loose-leaf filing.
Diplomacy – We deal with people in all aspects of legal education and practice. Many of them are in a stressful situation and you have to judge how best to approach the interaction with them.
Organizational and prioritization skills – There are often several projects going on at once and we are continually interacting with people (see above). We must be able to triage reference and research questions along with administrative work and other obligations. Sometimes you need to drop everything to help someone find an answer and other times you can judge that the question is not so urgent and deal with it later.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I am a terrible cook and left to my own devices I just throw something together so I do not starve. Fortunately, I am surrounded by family and friends who know their way around a kitchen. Whenever my husband goes away he leaves the freezer full of things I can defrost and reheat.