(From my orientation talk to the incoming first year law students, August 21, 2008.)
As Vice Dean and Director of the Law Library, I am very happy to welcome our incoming and returning law students to UB Law. I’ve been a law librarian for 25 years at three different law schools, but after eight years at the University at Buffalo I am uniquely proud to be a part of this law school and to share in the exciting path we are taking together. We have an experienced staff here to serve your research needs and to help make your studies here more productive. Many of the librarians have been here for 25 years or more, and five of us are lawyers as well as librarians. They are also expert teachers of legal research, and will be working closely with you and your Research and Writing instructors throughout your first year. I hope you’ll also take full advantage of the expertise we have available throughout your law school career and beyond.
The Law Library occupies six floors of O’Brian Hall, with the main reading room on the second and third floors. In addition, we have hundreds of more secluded seats among the stacks on the quiet upper floors. We also have 32 individual locking study carrels, plus two carrels reserved for handicap access. You can check out a key at the Circulation Desk. We currently have one group study room on the second floor, but in the Spring after the renovations are completed we’ll be up to our full complement of four study rooms and 40 individual study carrels.
As part of the leading research university in the SUNY system, we have access to all of the resources available throughout the University Libraries. Of course, that means that other students and faculty at UB also have access to the Law Library. This can sometimes be frustrating, especially around exam time. The good news is that the seventh floor, currently closed for repairs to the roof, will reopen in Spring 2009 as a new, quiet reading room for law students only.
The Reference Desk is staffed from 9:00am to 9:00pm Monday through Thursday, and until 5:00pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We also offer a chat reference service during our regular reference hours. You can contact chat reference through our website and our Facebook page, or if you use AIM you can simply add “ublawref” to your Buddy list.
Our collection is extensive and fully inclusive of federal and state law materials, both print and online. Through the University Libraries we have immediate online access to millions of pages of journals and other research materials, and our Interlibrary Loan service can provide print or online delivery of almost any additional resources you might need within a week or two.
In addition to these traditional library services, the Law Library’s Koren Audiovisual Center provides most of the classroom instructional technology you’ll see in your courses here. Many of our faculty are quite innovative in their use of video and other technologies, all of which contributes to enriching your studies.
However, it’s important to remember that a library is not just, or even primarily, a building. It’s all about bringing people and information together. The confines of the law library are just one place where that happens. In fact, the law library is anywhere you are when you need us. Through our chat reference service you can ask for help anywhere you are, whether you’re in a remote corner of the library, at work, or at home. We also have a Facebook page, where you can keep up on new resources and services, search the library catalog, and ask questions or share your comments and suggestions. We’re starting to offer instructional videos on the UB Law School YouTube channel, and if you use Twitter, you can follow us there at ublawlib.
Before I close, I want to say a bit more about online networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. 123 of you have already joined the UB Law Class of 2011 Facebook group and begun getting to know each other. Some of you may be on LinkedIn; if you’re not familiar with it, LinkedIn is a professional networking website that has become very popular with lawyers and law firms. There are other sites focused exclusively on presenting networking opportunities for lawyers and law students: Avvo, LawLink, Legal Onramp, and CasemakerX are some of the more popular examples. Increasing numbers of lawyers are also writing blogs, posting educational videos on YouTube, and so on. I frequently hear from lawyers, especially solo and small firm lawyers, about the benefits of networking and marketing their services online. I encourage you to explore these tools and think about making use of them yourselves.
At the same time, remember that you are already embarking on your professional careers. You are here to learn to be lawyers, and that transformation into your professional role starts today. I urge you to use online networking tools wisely, in a way that will enhance your career rather than detracting from it. Employers do Google potential employees, and they will search MySpace and Facebook. Think about whether the photos you’re posting on your websites, and the things you’re writing about there, will help or hinder you in your career in a couple of years, and do your best to comport yourselves like responsible members of the legal profession.
I look forward to seeing all of you over the next three years. My office is in the Law Library, near the Reference Desk, or you can reach me online at Yahoo! Messenger or Skype as “jmilles,” or Gtalk as “jim.milles.” Good luck, and enjoy your time at UB Law.