Monday, June 24, 2019

Getting To Know TS Librarians: Jean Willis

1. Introduce yourself (name & position). Please provide a picture to be posted to the TechScans blog.

Jean Willis.  Currently Interim Director at the Sacramento County Public Law Library.  My “usual” title is Assistant Director for Support Services.  Our Board of Trustees appointed me to the position of Interim Director when my boss, Coral Henning, sadly passed away in late March.

2. Does your job title actually describe what you do? Why/why not?

Interim Director is quite accurate.  However, I feel that my “usual” title is squishy.  What does it mean?  Essentially, it is “Not Public Services.”  I supervise Technical Services and IT for our Library, which is an independent local district government.  So our IT Team handles all of the technology needs for our Library.  We are not part of any overarching organization, such as the County government, despite the Library’s name.

Our Technical Services Team consists of a Tech Services Librarian, who handles Acquisitions and Claims but also works regularly at the Reference Desk, handles virtual reference shifts, teaches legal research basics classes and serves on our Collection Development Team.  We have a Cataloger, who also works at the Reference Desk and handles virtual reference.  Both Librarians also are responsible for updating and maintaining some of website content, including Legal Research Guides, Step by Steps and Everyday Law articles. Then we have a Serials Control Assistant, who checks in most of our materials, handles some copy cataloging, and she also works regularly on our Circulation desk. 

Our IT Team consists of two Systems Analysts who handle everything from soup to nuts involving technology at the Library.  I supervise these two Teams, plus fill in at Reference, teach legal research basics classes, serve as a Passport Acceptance Agent and generally assist in the day-to-day management and administration of the Library.   Of course, the latter duties have increased exponentially since the Director’s untimely demise.  Because our other Assistant Director for Public Services retired about a year ago, and was not yet replaced, I am also now fully supervising our Public Services Department and our Civil Self-Help Center, which is staffed by an attorney and a paralegal.  Yes! I am ridiculously busy right now, especially considering that my “usual” job was already full-time.  Time management plays a huge role in my work life these days.  Plus I am grateful to have super, hard-working staff, who have really stepped up to the plate at this challenging time.

3. What are you reading right now?

Typically, I have several books going at one time.  Right now, I am really fascinated and taken by the Neapolitan Novels authored by Elena Ferrante.  Just wonderful novels about love, friendship and growing up in post WWII Naples.  Today I started book two, The Story of a New Name.  HBO is also dramatizing these works, and the video of the first novel, My Brilliant Friend, is available for viewing and highly recommended. 

The other book I’m reading is called The Betel Nut Tree Mystery, by Ovidia Yu.  This is set in 1930s Singapore and presents an interesting counterpoint to the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, which I also enjoy as light reading.

4. If you could work in any library (either a type of library or a specific one), what would it be? Why?

I am working in the exact type of library that I would choose (really).  Throughout my career, I’ve worked in almost every type of law library: in law firms, law schools, courts, legal aid and more recently public law library.  I’m truly happy to provide such a needed public service to our constituents.  It was exciting, challenging and stimulating to work in all of those other types of law libraries, but this answers my interest in providing true public service to our community plus access to justice for all. 

5. You suddenly have a free day at work, what project would you work on?

We want to expand our Lawyers in the Library program, perhaps to collaborate with the Sacramento Public Library, to offer this service in different areas of our county and on more and different days and times.  I simply don’t have time to develop this project right now but would love to see it come to fruition. 


B H Flowers said...

As you know I have an interest in your library due to its (in Australian terms) cross-pollination of law library reference/research and some of the lesser processes of court related legal proceedings for self-represented litigants. In Queensland (and probably all other Australian jurisdictions too) we could only dream of lending our know-how to the actual practice of the law in a courtroom. Though I wouldn't care to be wearing quite so many hats as you are right now. Thanks for the book tip - Ovidia Yu's "The betel nut tree mystery" - I've now ordered it. Weirdly I have only recently done one of these 'meet the librarian' profiles myself, and nominated Yansze Choo's "The night tiger" (set in Malaysia) as my 'book du jour'. So we're occupying a shared geographical space in our fctional preferences (I loved Elena Ferrante's books too, and found the outing of her real name so irritating I decided not to remember it). See you in Oz later this year...

Jean said...

Barbara - I had no idea someone "outed" Ms. Ferrante's real name. You are a wealth of info, as always. See you soon in Briz!