Interview with our 2011 Caption the Cartoon Contest Winner: Sherry VonBehren from Drake University Law Library

Last year, PLI asked you to caption a cartoon featuring a PLI treatise and be entered to win an iPad.  Ms. Sherry VonBehren of Drake University Law Library was our winner (click here to see her caption) and below, Sherry answers some questions about libraries, librarians, and how technology is changing our field.


Tell us a little about yourself:

I’ve been working at the Drake LawSchool Library since August of 1985. When I started, my daughters were nine and twelve years old (almost). Now the older daughter works in the financial industry and has a Masters degree from Drake while the other is a registered nurse.

I’ve done many jobs at the Law Library, from labeling new books, filing cards into the obsolete card catalog, and making thousands of pages of photocopies of court cases to using a computer program to interlibrary loan items around the country, providing legal material from our electronic databases, and preparing library displays on such varied topics as the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, visits from Chief Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, and U.S. soldiers getting their wrongful WWII era convictions overturned just a few years ago.

What is a typical day like for you? :

First, I process the library’sinterlibrary loan and document delivery requests. I may need to put out anothercollection of “new books” or add recent faculty publications or student publications and awards to the large display cases.

I’m always developing new displays for the law library. The displays draw attention to library resources, give information on a law school subject, give tips on how to manage final exams stress, highlight law school lectures by visiting legal experts, law school symposiums, other law school activities, etc.

Why did you choose this career? :

I’ve loved libraries since I was achild. I had enjoyed my volunteer work at a public library and I liked the idea of doing the detailed work that keeps a library functioning. I had no idea of learning about legal resources when I started at the Law Library, it happened as my responsibilities changed over the years.

How do you feel technology has changed the field of law and/or librarianship? :

Technology has certainly changed how legal professionals do their research. Having legal resources available electronically has changed how fast legal sources can be found and has added tremendously to the number and variety of resources we can now access. Libraries must keep up with ever changing methods of finding answers to legal questions.

Helping law students, law faculty, attorneys and members of the public use electronic legal sources requires the skill to use electronic databases and especially the ability to advise patrons on how to conduct efficient, cost effective, and successful legal research.

What do you like most about your job? :

Most of all, I like being able to help people. I feel that providing the legal materials they need is an important job.

I also like developing informational displays. I’m very fortunate that I have a good amount of freedom to be creative and develop the displays in the manner I think will work to further the mission of the Law Library and the entire Law School.

How do you think the field of librarianship is changing? How is it staying the same? :

As ways of accessing legal materials have changed due to our use of computers, so have the options on how librarians must be able to connect with library users and the research skills they must learn. Those research skills must also be continually updated.

Librarianship is a helping profession. Most library workers are very service oriented. Our sincere desire to help people has stayed the same.

Do you use your iPad for anything work related, if so, for what? :

I have not used the iPad at work yet, but other people at the law school do use iPads at work and love them. Several people were quite excited about my winning the iPad.

Thank you again for such a wonderful gift. I was certainly surprised and excited to get it as well as very appreciative.

Wish you’d won an iPad?  You’re in luck! We’ll be having another caption the cartoon contest this year so stay tuned for the details on how to submit your caption via the website or stop by our booth at SLA (# 153) or AALL (# 323)!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *