Five Charleston School of Law students are spending this academic year as Sol Blatt Jr. Law Library Research Fellows. The Charleston School of Law Foundation selected the first group of fellows who are receiving a unique opportunity to assist students and other law library users. The fellows staff the reference desk, assist with research questions and are a friendly face for patrons.
Dedication to helping students and the legal community is what set the fellows, Nikki Fults (3L), Diamada Riofrio (3L), Emily Klopf (3L), Kaitlin Jones (2L), and Libby Peterson (2L), apart during the detailed application and interviewing process. The Foundation selected the fellows from 32 applicants.
These bright individuals received both online and on-site training, spanning three months. The training included seven different online modules with PowerPoints, specific assignments and focused readings. The fellows learned research skills that separate them from other law students.
“Research is not as simple as typing a word into a search bar,” Riofrio said about the training. Training topics included primary and secondary sources of American law, such as cases, statutes, and regulations as well as legislative history, business information, and public records. “If you actually want to find helpful information, it takes more. I’m glad I have the chance to learn these skills in law school rather than when I’m handed a case for the first time,” she added.
Fellow, Libby Peterson, values her ability to “help other students and promote her own research through the library’s LibGuides.” LibGuides are a set of web pages the library provides for research assistance.
Each fellow is dedicated to one or more subjects to improve their research skills and gain possible specialty experience.
“As a third-year law student, I wanted to prepare for any tasks required of me in future employment. I am refreshing the basics in hopes of mastering the skill of researching effectively and efficiently,” Klopf said.
Research topics, such as case law, administrative law, executive orders, and South Carolina primary sources, are not the only training offered to these ambitious students.
Jones said that she has learned through the fellowship various library functions. “I’ve learned about the types of visitors who come to the library and the types of questions to expect. I’ve also learned how the library is organized, available resources and which resources are most helpful.”
Fults agreed and added, “While in the position, I have learned more about the services the library has to offer and have developed a deeper appreciation for the librarians. There is so much more going on behind the scenes than I was aware of before.”
Dean Lisa Smith-Butler, who oversees the library, describes the fellowship program as a great success. The fellowship has allowed the librarians to handle more complex research projects and library work. The library offers services not just for Charleston Law students, but alumni and practicing attorneys in the area.
With over 630,000 titles in print and electronic formats, help from the fellows is much appreciated and a service upon which law students and other library patrons can rely.
Story by: Melanie A. Rumfelt