What Do You Do All Day? A Law Librarian's Answer

From a law librarian’s get-well card:

On the outside: “We wish you a speedy recovery so you can get back to the office and do your job…” and on the inside, “…of course, we can’t figure out just what it is that you do!”

I think that most law librarian’s can identify with that sentiment shared by Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin President Diane Duffey in the recent LLAW Newsletter. In her book, Practicing Reference: Thoughts for Librarians and Legal Researchers, Mary Whisner shares her own anecdotes in the chapter entitled “What Do You Do All Day.” Highly recommended.
If you’re a librarian, do you have an answer to that question? Diane proposes the following exercise:

Imagine what your organization would do if you disappeared for, say, just a couple of weeks. Write down what you come up with. It will probably make you smile, when you think of the people you work for trying to “do just what it is that you do.” Come up with some amusing anecdotes. Consider using some of this material tactfully at your next review.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve given a lot of presentations to legal professionals. Almost every time someone comes up to me and says how great they think that librarians are. While I’m always pleased to hear this, I’m struck by the irony of it since many of them truly have no idea what we do. They just know that we do it well.