7 Jul 2020
Author : InfoPro Community Manager
Finding direction and enjoyment in the world of law librarians
Reflecting on modest beginnings as a young mother with a law degree and a love of books, Gayle Lynn Nelson recently told us what she appreciates about her career, accomplishments and colleagues in the world of law librarians. This year she received the Private Law Librarians & Information Professionals (PLLIP) Vendor/Outside Champion Award for work promoting the value of information professionals to the broader legal community. For more than two decades, she has worked as a senior librarian relations consultant for LexisNexis. Prior to that she was a library director in New Jersey and New York. Join us for a quick conversation with Gayle.
Q1: What inspired you to pursue a career in the information professional field?
Well, to answer that, I have to go back a number of years. I had just moved back to the United States from St. Martin in the Caribbean after having my daughter. I was a little lost, not knowing what to do with my law degree and not wanting to practice. Having a small child meant figuring something out that would work for our family. My mother-in-law saw an ad in the paper for an assistant law librarian and showed it to me. I decided to go for it, and ultimately got the job.
I liked what I was doing, went to library school at night and ultimately received my MLS from Rutgers University. I went from assistant to director in six months and figured it was working, so this became my new career. Being an information professional was the best blend of my law degree and masters, utilizing all those skills in a place I love; the library. One might also say it was born out of necessity, needing to find a job that would put my skills and talents to work.
Q2. What can you tell us about your path from library director to working for LexisNexis?
After working as a library director at the county courthouse in Morris/Sussex Vicinage, I moved to law firms in New York City. My last position was at what was then known as Fulbright and Jaworski, now Norton Rose Fulbright, where I was library director in the New York office for almost four years.
I realized I wanted something more, and a good friend told me about positions being created by LexisNexis for information professionals. I decided, “Why not apply?” That was one of the best professional decisions of my career. I am inspired by people, and especially information professionals. They are so bright and kind. I knew supporting them and advocating for them would be just the thing I was missing in my professional life.
LexisNexis specifically wanted people with library degrees and relationships with librarians within the cities where they would work. That fit the bill to a T for me. I worked in both New Jersey and New York and belonged to both American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) chapter associations, in addition to Special Libraries Association (SLA). It was a fit made in heaven!
Q3. What do you enjoy most about your job as a knowledge and research consultant (aka librarian relations consultant)?
What I enjoy most is being with my customers, who are also my colleagues and friends. How many people can say they love what they do and the people they work with? I count my blessings to be in that category. Seeing what my customers are involved with and how I can help them solve problems is quite gratifying. Another thing I really appreciate is being challenged to learn new products and solve problems. One day is never the same as the one before, so it is always exciting. I am continually learning and evolving.
Q4: What changes do you think will be most challenging for legal information professionals over the next five years?
One of the biggest challenges I see involves the COVID-19 pandemic—figuring out where we will work—in an office in a city or an office in one’s own home. This has intensified the need for the right technology, as well as support for that technology to help us accomplish excellent work on behalf of our firm or organization.
And that brings me to another challenge: getting a sense of where technology will be in the next five years—how the way we do things will change and how we can help our customers grow with the change. I believe technology is pushing the use of analytics in the legal field. And that is only going to get more important over the next five years. I am lucky to work for a company that is at the forefront of analytics and its place in the legal industry.
Q5. What work accomplishment are you most proud of?
The PLLIP award is one of the accomplishments I am most proud of. Another honor that’s very special to me is recognition received with another information professional for an article we co-wrote, titled “The Millennial Invasion.” It won a H.W. Wilson Award and appeared in SLA Information Outlook®. I think being known as an advocate and resource is really the best triumph. I am delighted to offer a deep understanding of the needs of my customers, having been in their shoes, and to be there for them as a known, trusted resource.
Q6: What hobbies or interests outside the law firm help you stay balanced?
Oh, where to begin! I really like sweets and have developed into quite a good baker. Sometimes too much so, as it is not very good for me or my spouse.
Of course, as an information professional, I also like to read and am a member of a few book clubs, both within my community and professionally.
Another endeavor that brings me much joy is travel, which has come to a halt during this pandemic. I have traveled for my job, seeing customers, as well as in my personal life, and I really miss it right now. I believe travel, especially internationally, creates so much cultural enrichment that you cannot get except by experiencing it in real time.
Another favorite pastime for me is quilting. I was never that great in math, and quilting has provided a welcome challenge since it does involve math. It keeps my mind active and alive. Working on quilts and seeing the completed work is very satisfying, especially when I make quilts for others and see the delight on their faces when they unwrap their gift. Each one is different and tells its own story.
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