Featured Member – Sandy Brewer

Sandy Brewer is just plain fun to interview. Sandy thought her library career would be in academe but when a full-time position at the law library at the Circuit Court for Howard County opened up, Sandy found her calling. Along with running the library, which she does solo, she assists several offices within the courthouse on various projects, enjoys committee work, and is always up for taking on whatever is needed. Sandy is a firm believer in making oneself visible in the workplace.

Before taking her current position, Sandy received her JD at Georgia State University and her MLS from Catholic University. Between law school and library school, Sandy became a mom; her daughter is now a junior in high school and her son is in eighth grade.  After obtaining her MSLS, Sandy worked at many of the DC and Virginia law school libraries including American University, University of Richmond, and Catholic University.

When asked about her professional achievements, Sandy did not hesitate with an answer. This is because Sandy started the first civil law self-help center in a Maryland court library, a program that other circuit court law libraries have emulated. Every Tuesday morning, Sandy has attorneys ready to assist low-income individuals with legal advice. Knowing that daytime hours don’t work for everyone, Sandy expanded the program to monthly evening sessions at the public library. She is also very proud of her work with the Howard County Pro Bono Committee.  In response to Sandy’s suggestion, the Committee will be organizing their first visit to the women’s prison in Jessup.  Volunteer attorneys will meet one-on-one with inmates, as part of a 3-visit series, to provide free legal advice in family law, wills, trusts & estates and financial matters.  Lastly, Sandy is excited about being admitted into the Maryland Judiciary’s Institute for Court Management Program.

Sandy is a great lover of the outdoors and an avid gardener. When asked if “you could do it all over again”, Sandy would be a National Park Service Ranger. And if she wins the Mega Millions jackpot, Sandy will give plenty of notice and then purchase a luxury RV to visit each National Park, bringing along every historical fiction book on her wish list… in print format!  When asked how she will get to the National Parks in Hawaii, Sandy said she will fly and then buy another RV upon arrival.

James G. Durham: New Deputy Director at Maryland State Law Library

The Maryland State Law Library is pleased to welcome James G. Durham as the Library’s first Deputy Director.  Before recently moving to Baltimore, James was Head of Public Services for the Gould Law Library of Touro Law Center in Central Islip, NY.  In that capacity, he had overall responsibility for the supervision and management  of the staff and services of both the reference and circulation departments.  He provided additional assistance to the Touro Law Center community by serving on various faculty and administrative committees and as the program administrator for the school’s summer study abroad programs in India and Israel.

From 1998 to 2005, James served as Publications and Reference Librarian at the Fred Parks Law Library of South Texas College of Law in Houston, where he developed significant expertise in web publishing.  During the course of his career, he has become an accomplished educator, possessing experience in library-based research instruction and as an adjunct professor of graduate and law school courses, including legal bibliography, various aspects of foreign and international law, and sexual orientation law.

He also has a noteworthy record of professional involvement in the law community.  James received his J.D. in 1997, from Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.  While in law school, he interned one memorable summer at DNA – People’s Legal Services in Window Rock, AZ, assisting with the legal needs of members of the Navajo and Hopi Nations.

Prior to entering the legal profession, James worked for the Columbus (OH) Metropolitan Library system, where he was the assistant manager of two branch libraries. He holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Library and Information Science degrees from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.  He began his new position on October 5th.

Featured Member: Kate Martin

San Diego native Kate Martin had a variety of jobs before finding her path in law librarianship, from rare book dealer, to – somewhat more unexpectedly – customs inspector at the Tijuana border and at LAX. When she started in customs, she was only the second female in a group of 180 officers, which presented some unique challenges. She recounts a number of colorful stories including the discovery of several brown paper shopping bags filled with human bones.  It’s easy to understand why Kate came to regard library work as “somewhat tamer than law enforcement.”

Not that library jobs were that easy to come by. Kate attended library school at UCLA, and her graduation roughly coincided with California’s passage of its Proposition 13. This cap on property taxes had an impact on many professions; Kate recalls that Los Angeles County fired thirty percent of its librarians during that era.  Although the job market was “even worse than it is now,” Kate eventually landed an internship at the Smithsonian. She found the East Coast much friendlier to an aspiring librarian; she remembers seeing more librarian positions advertised in the Washington Post in one weekend than she had seen in three months in California.

Kate subsequently worked in a number of law firm library positions, including doing interlibrary loan at Morgan Lewis and loose-leaf filing at Hughes Hubbard & Reed. She also worked at the LC’s Congressional Research Service. She eventually rose to the position of National Director for Libraries for McKenna Long & Aldridge, a position she held for 10 years. After the demanding atmosphere of law firm librarianship, Kate was ready for a change of pace, and in early 2011 accepted the position of Director of the Montgomery County Circuit Court Law Library.

Kate has found the change “invigorating.” She loves the increased freedom and personal interactions that characterize her new position.  She has enjoyed working with a more diverse group of library patrons, and expresses great admiration for the collection and for the stewardship of her predecessor librarians at Montgomery County. Among the initiatives Kate has instituted are a branding initiative for the Library, a recurring column in the Montgomery County Bar Bulletin, and Coffee Break events at the Library on Fridays for all courthouse staff and attorneys. She looks forward to continuing the outreach activities that the Library has already been pursuing. Active in both AALL and LLSDC, Kate developed the idea for the very well received Private Law Libraries Summit this past July in Philadelphia, and envisions developing a similar summit for court librarians.

 Kate enjoys playing Scrabble, reading, and adding to the “embarrassingly large” collection of teapots that she has built over the past 20 years and that is displayed around her Montgomery County home. Acquired during her various travels, Kate’s 450 teapots include a 19th century Limoges teapot, several Chinese Yi Xi teapots, and many animal shaped teapots including four Noah’s Ark themed pots. No doubt her experience as a customs inspector has made her an expert at bringing teapots back from everywhere that she has visited! She has offered to host a “teapot tour” as a LLAM program.                 

Kate describes herself as “still passionate” about law libraries after 32 years in the field. We’re very pleased to welcome Kate to LLAM!

Featured Member – Elizabeth Lukes

Elizabeth Lukes began her library career at the Baltimore Sun, where she started as an intern and later moved into a position in the library. While she enjoyed news research, through her work at the Sun she developed an interest in legal issues and law librarianship. After seeing an advertisement (in the Sun of course!) for the librarian position at the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), she applied, and has been in that job since 2006. She studied for and obtained her MLS in Florida State University’s online program.

Currently a one-person operation, the library at OAH serves a number of functions. Much of Elizabeth’s time is spent conducting administrative and legislative history research for the Administrative Law Judges (ALJs).  There are about 65 ALJs, a number which has increased since the OAH began handling foreclosure mediations in 2010.   In cooperation with a paralegal for Quality Assurance, Elizabeth also monitors changes in various agency regulations and procedures and apprises the ALJs of them. The variety of agencies, and their differing policies and practices, make this a challenging but rewarding endeavor.

The OAH has a number of interns from law schools every summer, who shadow the ALJs and help them research and write their decisions, and who no doubt find Elizabeth a valuable source of information and support.

In another aspect of her job, Elizabeth oversees the library’s print collection, as well as filing and maintaining the collection of signed ALJ decisions that are kept for seven years according to internal policy. The number of signed decisions varies widely depending on agency policy and practice. Some agencies reserve the right to reverse ALJ decisions, and others do not.

Also, the OAH library is open to the public. To view ALJ decisions requires advance filing of a Public Information Act request in order to protect the confidentiality of many opinions. Dealing with these requests is another aspect of Elizabeth’s job.  She recalls one patron who brought in a scanner to assist with his research.

Drawing on her experience producing focus group videos in a previous position at an ad agency, Elizabeth has also taken on the task of assisting other OAH staff members with preparing presentations. Recently Elizabeth chaired a committee that developed a video to assist people who wish to represent themselves in administrative hearings. A production crew from another state agency filmed and edited the project. The two-part video is about 30 minutes long and covers one Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and one non-MVA hearing. This video is available from the OAH Web site.

When she isn’t wearing one of the many hats she wears for her OAH job, Elizabeth works as a wedding videographer on the weekends. She and her husband have been pursuing this for about five years. She describes this as a “high adrenaline” endeavor which draws upon both her physical stamina and entrepreneurial interests. Often obtaining clients by word of mouth, she has worked with a number of ethnically diverse weddings, which she describes as fascinating to film.  She sees this work as an enriching experience and one that effectively counterbalances her “day job” in library work.

Elizabeth enjoys knowing the policies of the various agencies and being a conduit of information for the staff of the OAH. Further, she looks forward to managing the transition of OAH library as it moves from print to digital information.

Dee Van Nest Retires from the Maryland State Law Library

By Catherine I. McGuire
Outreach Services Law Librarian
Maryland State Law Library

Dee Van Nest

A library seems an odd place to find someone with a double degree in English and fine arts, but Dee Van Nest has infused her 39-year career at the State Law Library with the benefits of both. Dee has long been the point-person for fliers, signs, brochures, and exhibits, but when she retires at the end of April, she will take with her that fine arts expertise, as well as a deep institutional knowledge and thorough understanding of the sources of old English law that the Law Library staff has depended on for years.

Dee started her Judiciary career in Spring 1972, when the State Law Library was housed in the old Court of Appeals building in downtown Annapolis on the site of the current Department of Legislative Services building. She distinctly remembers the glass floors on the second and third floors as “scary — it took a while to get used to walking on them.” The building, she recalls, had lots of wrought iron and marble, and stayed cool in the summer. She didn’t get to enjoy the glass and wrought iron for long, though. A few months after starting the job, in August 1972, the Library, along with the Court, moved into its current location on Rowe Boulevard. Dee designed the organizational system to move all of the books, with the help of a phalanx of college students. “It was fun,” she says. “Everyone pitched in, and we really enjoyed ourselves.”

Dee Van Nest and Ruth Hodgson

Dee’s expertise in English law sources began when she was asked to assist in a search for a 1713 English statute under Queen Anne, dealing with breaking out as opposed to breaking and entering. Having studied Chaucer in college, Dee enjoyed the British writing, and decided to learn everything she could about the English legal system to be better prepared for similar questions in the future. “Over the years,” Dee says, “the knowledge has come in handy.”

Over Dee’s four decades here, there have been many changes in how the Library looks, functions, and serves its customers. Of all the technology changes, though, Van Nest says, “the neatest thing was Lexis.” In the late 1970s, shortly after Mike Miller joined the Library as director, the Library got its first Lexis connection, a single machine that was kept in one of the side offices. When a judge or law clerk needed a Lexis search run, either Mike or Dee would structure the search and run it on the stand-alone machine. “Searches weren’t cheap,” Dee says, “you paid by the minute. It was important to be careful and proficient, to keep the cost down.” Lexis was such a big deal that a local television network filmed Dee doing a search for the evening news.

Dee and Judge Peter B. Krauser

One of Dee’s biggest challenges, and one of her most rewarding projects, was the design of the Library’s Special Collections Room and the preservation and display of the Library’s collection of John James Audubon’s Birds of America elephant folio prints. Dee worked closely with the Baltimore-based company that designed the display case and the Philadelphia-based preservation group that restored the Birds to their now-glorious state. The Birds are displayed at the front of the Library, one or two at a time. For the last several years, it has been Dee’s pleasure and privilege to choose the next prints for display, carefully don the requisite white gloves, and rotate the birds.

Bernice Bernstein and Dee

Like her recently retired colleague Bernice Bernstein, Dee remembers the Library as a place people visited often. Today, she says, most of the Library’s patrons call or email for assistance rather than coming in person. She knew most of the appellate judges, law clerks, and local attorneys by sight as well as by name. She misses those face-to-face interactions, though she admits much of the technology is more convenient for users.

Dee doesn’t plan to just sit back and relax in retirement. She will continue to show her favorite Irish Wolfhounds (her current furry love is Rhett), and will spend more time working with therapeutic riding, assisting children with special needs, at a stable in Crownsville. She is also, as always, continuing her cooking and canning, with plans to perhaps do some teaching in that area. And most importantly, she looks forward to extra quality time with her grandson, Sam.

“The best part of the job has been the intellectual challenge. It’s never boring,” Dee says. “No matter how long you work in a law library, you will always encounter a question that you have never researched. What could be better than that?”

Susan Herrick and Mary Jo Lazun

Susan Herrick, Katherine Baer, and Joan Bellistri

Steve Anderson

Carol Carman and Dee

Featured Member – Bernice Bernstein

Bernice Bernstein Retires from the Maryland State Law Library

By Catherine I. McGuire
Outreach Services Law Librarian
Maryland State Law Library

When Bernice Bernstein joined the then-named Maryland State Library on June 29, 1966 as Assistant Librarian, she planned to stay for a maximum of five years. Little did she know that she would be retiring, with more than eight times her original goal, in February 2011. In her more than 40 years with the State Judiciary, Bernice has seen a number of significant changes. She has worked under three Directors (Nelson Moulter, Mike Miller, and Steve Anderson.) She has seen several former law clerks become judges. And she has seen the Library through one major move and several slightly smaller renovation upheavals, including asbestos removal and the construction of the Special Collections Room.

In June 1966 when Bernice began working at the Library, the institution was housed in the Court of Appeals building in downtown Annapolis, across from the Capital. The stately facilities – three tiers with glass floors and steel stairs – were used by members of the Legislature and the Judiciary together. Bernice took the place of Ruth Burton, who had moved on to become the first head of the newly-established Legislative Services Library. In addition to her regular library duties, Bernice also handled requisitions and supplies for the legislature.

Almost simultaneously with her 1966 start, the Court of Special Appeals was established, with the swearing in of the first Court of Special Appeals judges in January 1967. Bernice recalls that the new Special Appeals judges had chambers in the Jeffrey Building on Francis Street, which ironically also housed the new Legislative Services Library.

When it was decided to tear down the old Court of Appeals building to make room for a new Legislative Services Building downtown, the Library moved to the new Courts of Appeal Building, in August 1972. The Library staff, which consisted at that time of five full-time and two part-time employees, helped by a few summer students, packed the entire collection using a color code system developed by Bernice’s co-worker, Dee Van Nest. Special attention and precautions were taken to pack and move the John James Audubon Birds of America elephant folios.

The formal relationship of the Library with the Judiciary was established in 1978, when it took on its present name of the Maryland State Law Library.

The Library’s collection up through the 1970’s had consisted mainly of print and microform materials. With the introduction of computer technology, the Library’s operation changed substantially. Bernice’s entire operation went from a manual system to a much more sophisticated system allowing faster input of information and a quicker response to inquiries, all of which she considers a plus.

One down side to the growth of computer technology, in Bernice’s opinion, has been a loss of personal interaction with customers and co-workers. Bernice remembers that once upon a time, she knew most of the regular Judiciary patrons because they came to the Library in person. Now that they can access much of their research from chambers, the Library staff and Judiciary patrons interact much more frequently via email and telephone, and less frequently in person.

The basic arrangement of the collection has stayed the same, with periodic shifting as needed by the expansion of various series. Over 40 years, the Library has added numerous online research products to enhance and expand the collection.

Over more than 40 years, Bernice has accumulated her own ‘library’ of special memories. Two stand out the most for her.

The first is when Bernice was expecting her first child. On Friday, May 6, 1977, she worked late to clear up any details before the birth. Mike Miller, Director of the Law Library at that time, mentioned Bernice’s circumstances to Chief Judge Robert C. Murphy, who then sent Bernice a personal letter congratulating her on the happy event and thanking her for her dedication.

The second memory is of her nomination by Court of Special Appeals Judge Arrie W. Davis for the Daily Record’s Unsung Legal Heroes awards program. On May 8, 2008, Bernice received word that she had been selected as one of that year’s recipients. The award is, she says, the highlight of her career.

In her years at the Library, Bernice has made many dear friends. To this day she stays in close touch with some of her original colleagues, Joan Saalwachter Princeotta, Bev Mattheau Roberts, and Pat Phillips Bucheimer.

Bernice will miss the people at the Library and the Judiciary. She says she will even miss the work. A self-described “regimented individual” who has always been “more career-minded than domesticated,” she knows the change to a more relaxed lifestyle will take some adjustment. She looks forward, however, to having more time with family and friends, and especially to not having to drive on icy winter roads. Bernice is even thinking about learning to cook!

Featured Member- Andy Zimmerman

If you know anything at all about Andy Zimmerman, it probably doesn’t surprise you to learn that before embarking on his 15-year (to date) law library career, Andy was a legal writer. He began his writing endeavors while a law student at Fordham, giving up a job as a library filer for more scholarly pursuits. One of his early jobs, with Matthew Bender, involved writing case annotations for Moore’s Federal Practice.  After graduating with his J.D. from The Dickinson School of Law, Andy wrote for Prentice-Hall Tax and Professional Practice (a division of P-H Law and Business) for about 5 years, and also free-lanced.  After earning his library degree at Pratt Institute, he worked in law firms in New York (Proskauer Rose and Dewey Ballantine) and Cleveland (the former Arter & Hadden), then moved to Maryland, where he was librarian at the Baltimore office of Hogan & Hartson before becoming Director of Library Services at Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger, and Hollander.

It was while employed at Proskauer Rose, and keeping a set of research notes to help him in his everyday work, that Andy conceived the idea which eventually developed into Zimmerman’s Research Guide. With support from his library director, Andy connected with LLRX, and his writings evolved from a set of in-house notes for his and his colleagues’ use into one of the earliest legal reference works in online database form.  Now hosted by LexisNexis, the guide currently averages 37,000 site visits per month. His frequent updates and additions to the Guide can be followed on Andy’s ZRG blog and on the Guide’s Facebook page.

Andy has been observing the changes in legal publishing from various perspectives since his days at Prentice-Hall. He notes the continuing contraction of the legal publishing industry, the increasing complexity of purchasing decisions, and the bifurcation of the legal information world, where “so much is becoming free, when so much else is becoming more expensive.” Another of Andy’s contributions to the growth of current and reliable legal information on the Web was his article (co-written with Trevor Rosen) “Is there a Future for an e-USC?” which appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of Law Library Lights. This article, as well as Andy’s discussions with Peter LeFevre of the House of Representatives Office of the Law Revision Counsel (OLRC), likely influenced the launch of OLRC’s USCPrelim, a pilot project to update the online version of some titles of the United States Code on an ongoing basis – a first step toward the creation of an unofficial-but-nearly-current edition of the USC similar to the e-CFR. For more information on USCPrelim and Andy’s contribution to its development, see the Law Librarian Blog posting of September 29, 2010.

Andy says: “I would like to leave the information world a better place.” He has already made a pretty good start on that!

When not writing research guides or his blog, Andy enjoys road biking and playing guitar. He lives in Baltimore County with his wife, a professor of religion at George Mason University, and his teenage daughter.