TS-SIS Long-Time Member Profile:
Jean L. Willis
Assistant Director for Support Services Sacramento County Public Law Library
On this page:
Place And Date Of Birth
date?? I am a woman of the world who is vastly amused by the likes of
Iron Butterfly’s “Inna Gadda da Vida”
shilling stuff like retirement financial Management planning to aging
‘60s radicals. Gotta laugh, or you’ll cry (actually
I did burst into tears the other day, when I saw how oooold Paul
McCartney now looks. James Dean was too right)! I was boooorn♫ in the
- All that jazz on AALLnet.
Skiing in its many, lovely formats. Hiking. Mountain climbing (when I
have the time to train for it). Reading. Bleeding edge, lefty politics
(I love being on a liberal list-serv sponsored by one of my law
librarian mates downundah). Travel. Yoga. Watching and critiquing
movies. Shooting the breeze with my pals either in person or online.
Golfing. Being silly and foolish. Breathing. Taking risks. My guy.
Inspiration For Becoming A Law Librarian
I dunno. At the time, it seemed like I’d make more money if I
went into law, rather than public librarianship. I think
that’s probably true. Now I combine law with public
librarianship, and I am happy as a clam. So sue me! I was single,
wanted to travel, and needed some bucks. Laughably, it seemed like the
path of least resistance! I call it the folly of youth.
Here I am with my current boss,
the ever incredible Coral Henning (otherwise known as the fountain of
knowledge), and my other partner in crime, Kelly Browne. Sacramento
County Public Law Library operates from the former Sacramento Police
Dept headquarters built in 1916. I like this photo because I am
actually the tallest in the bunch!! Yay!
My mentor is, very sadly, no
longer alive. Lynn Pollack is/was/will always be for me a law librarian
nonpareil. Lynn was the Director of the Law Courts Library from the
1970s through sometime in the 1990s. . Lynn was one of the most
dynamic, hard working, innovative and forward-thinking law librarians I
have ever had the pleasure to know. Lynn was an early adapter of the
entrepreneurial approach to managing a law library, as well as an early
adopter of the newly emerging technologies of the late 70s/early 80s.
Lynn took an extended leave from her position in the early 1980s, and I
had the honor of temporarily holding down the fort for her. It was an
exciting, scary, challenging, rewarding, breathless opportunity for me.
I learned and grew so much from her stewardship and assistance from
afar. Sadly, Lynn passed away from ovarian cancer in 2004. I still miss
her friendship and wonderful insights every single day.
Another wonderful law
librarian, who provided me with much positive influence, is another
Aussie, named Rob Brian. At the time that I lived and worked downundah,
Rob was the Director of the University of New South Wales Law School
Library. Rob later became the New South Wales Parliamentary Librarian.
Rob is a true gentleman, a scholar, a tireless advocate and a wonderful
person. I feel blessed to know him. We still correspond.
And I have to thank yet another
law librarian downundah, my former boss, Margaret McAleese, who was and
is the Director of the University of Sydney Law School Library.
Margaret was also a mentor, remains a good friend, and I am grateful to
her for continuing to forgive me for being a Yank!
I tip my hat to two other law
librarians who have helped me out frequently, offered excellent advice
and been great friends: Regina Smith, Director of the Jenkins Law
Library in Philadelphia, and Jill Kremer, currently working for Dialog
in North Carolina, but formerly a law librarian in Philly.
Current Position Challenges
Looking fabulous and being extremely competent at the same time.
It’s so hard to juggle competing demands, don’t you
- Too many to mention & most too boring to remember.
Favorite office ever was a corner office on the 12th floor of the NSW
State and Australian Federal Courthouse in centre city Sydney. The full
width of two sides of the office had large windows. One side provided
views all the way out to the Blue Mountains to the west. The other side
featured a lengthy view of the incomparable Sydney Harbor, including
the Bridge, out to the North and South Headlands.
- A current job that I enjoy is working part-time for Weight
Watchers, which I’ve done for over 8 years in both Sacramento
and San Diego.
- Next to worst job ever: bussing tables on a split shift
– early breakfast and dinner – six days per week at
the AFRC Shermanplatz hotel in Garmisch-Partinkirschen, West Germany in
the late 1970s. Serving young GIs on vacation wasn’t too bad,
but my work schedule left me with little free time to enjoy the Alps.
Very frustrating! Plus the work was slog and low pay, and my cranky
German boss abused me constantly for how I said
“ja.” Go figure! If I never hear the song
“You can take this job and shove it” ever again, it
will be too soon. Those GIs played it endlessly on the jukebox. Yeeks.
'Crazy' Non-Professional Activity
Only one? Which to choose: attempting rock climbing in El Dorado canyon
without instruction or equipment? befriending a “lady of the
night” in Jogjakarta, Indonesia and accompanying her back to
a brothel/gambling den in the red light district to drink tea?
apologizing to Isabelle Allende for the CIA’s complicity in
in overthrowing her uncle’s legally elected government, which
resulted in his untimely death and her exile from her country? belching
so loudly that it brought the entire college cafeteria to a dead
silence and then resulted in the animal house providing a standing
ovation? Hitch-hiking alone across Europe in my youth? climbing Mt.
Whitney in a day? working as an IT manager in a law firm? falling madly
and recklessly in love at 50? living with a Kashmiri family on their
donga boat on Lake Nagin in Shrinagar, India for six months? riding the
“chicken bus” through the Meseta Tarasca,
Michoacán? arriving in Sydney with $100 to my name (and
ending up working there for six years)? Etc.?
Probably skiing followed closely by my sweetie-pie, honey-bunch (but,
shhhhh, don’t tell him that. He thinks it’s the
other way around!!!!).
Earliest Childhood Memory
Having a GIANT screaming argument with mother about what I was gonna
wear that day, circa 3 years of age. And guess what? no lie: that
ridiculous argument continues today (well over 50 years and counting)
when I visit mom at the “happy acres” retirement
home. They have THE MOST stringent dress code that you can ever
imagine. They actually hand out a spreadsheet with EXACTING details of
what can and flip-flops are forbidden foot ware? That blue jeans and
cargo pants are ? It provides my mom with endless opportunities to
brow-beat me about every item of clothing that I visiting her, and my
her Deborah Tannen’s new book this year for
Mother’s Day. It is appropriately titled: You’re
Wearing That? As the froggies love to say: plus de choses changent plus
qu'elles restent la même chose.
Where In Five Years?
Doing something fabulous in an exotic locale, sweetie. Dubai, anyone??
I hear you can make megabucks
there, AND they have largest indoor ski mountain in the world, and
it’s in the desert, no less. I gotta ski that! I’m
also gonna need to make some serious cash to purchase that hippy-trippy
retirement planning stuff (… ♪♪♫inna gadda da vida
- Ho-hum. Numerous memberships in various organizations.
Lots of library stuff, as well as the “other” ALA
– Association of Legal Administrators
- some years ago when I did IT work in a law firm. Some
awards here & there for various “do good”
things. My favorite membership is in the Sierra Club; I have belonged
for almost as long as I’ve been a law librarian. When I lived
in Fresno, CA, in the 1990s, I led numerous hikes in the high Sierra.