On September 13, the BU School of Law community was treated to a festival that thrilled, engaged, delighted, educated, and enriched all who attended. What was this festival you might ask? It was our third annual LibraryFest.
If you are like me, then hearing the term LibraryFest for the first time begs questions like, “what exactly is a LibraryFest?” LibraryFest is an event hosted and conducted by the excellent staff of the Fineman and Pappas Law Libraries, and it is designed to help students engage with our resources. LibraryFest brings most of our major information vendors such as Westlaw, LexisNexis, Wolters Kluwer, CALI, Proquest, and many more, to campus to engage, one-on-one with students in a fun and nonjudgmental environment. We stationed approximately 30 vendors in the Pappas Reading Room this year, and students were encouraged to make the rounds, to talk with the vendors, to learn about how best to use their products to enhance their legal educations, and most importantly, to win prizes and have fun.
Yes, I said prizes. Not only did we invite vendors to campus to engage with our students, we also invited them to donate prizes to enhance the festival-like atmosphere of LibraryFest. We challenged each student to speak to at least four vendors. Each time students chatted with a vendor, they received a stamp. Each time they collected four stamps they were entered into a drawing for a host of great prizes like an iPad, a $100 Nordstrom gift certificate, a laptop, and even an authentic light saber of the quality fit for saving entire galaxies from star wars-like destruction. This was not a mere plastic toy saber either! It was the REAL DEAL! To sweeten the pot even further, upon visiting four vendors, students received a ticket for our free and delicious, LibraryFest, nacho bar extravaganza. Yes, there really is a free lunch at Boston University School of Law during LibraryFest.
What are the goals of this endeavor you might ask. Well, for me, a law library is about far more than research. It is about cultivating, nurturing, and developing lawyers ingrained with a passion for lifelong learning. With events like LibraryFest, students discover the joy that accompanies learning about a new legal research database that solves problems, renders the heretofore undiscoverable findable, and imparts knowledge and expertise that many, if not most, other students and other lawyers simply do not have. Students begin to discover that this career they are embarking upon is one that requires constant learning, the constant discovery of new facts, constantly realizing new ways of knowing, new ways of discovering, new ways to research. Indeed, events like LibraryFest teach our students that constantly working to learn new things can, and should, be a joyous undertaking.
I know it will sound like the impassioned ravings of a lunatic law library director when I share with you our students’ reactions. However, it is absolutely true that students came up to me during LibraryFest and said things like, “Professor Wheeler, I never knew we have so many interesting and unique library resources!” Now, even I was taken aback by statements like these from law students. However, they seemed to genuinely find learning about our various legal research databases and platforms fun. I find this stuff fun, but I’m a law librarian after all. But, finally figuring out a way to make these library related discoveries fun for law students makes my entire career worthwhile. This is why I do the work that I do, and it is also why I love it so very much.
LibraryFest is usually held about the third week of classes during the fall semester. As I write these words, I am realizing that alumni attendance and participation in our LibraryFest event would really make it exceptional. Please, alumni, consider this an open invitation! Marrying student learning about legal research resources and student engagement with our most valuable resource, you our alumni, would really make this event surpass all previous expectations. In short, that would really ROCK!
This is your Law Library Director and friend,