Aaron Parsons

Aaron Parsons


Reference Librarian
San Francisco Law Library (CA)

Aaron Parsons

1. What motivated you to market your library with the free Lunchtime Speaker Series?

Our library is the only free public law library in San Francisco, and it is our mission to provide free legal information, resources and services so that people may conduct their legal affairs and preserve their rights. Our motivation for marketing our library with our Speaker Series was to help raise awareness of our library, facilitate access to justice, and to educate the community about important legal issues. We select hot legal topics and find local experts to present them to the community to both inform them of their rights and highlight the resources we have in our library to help them solve problems. Our programs bring in a broad spectrum of patrons, including the public, attorneys, non-attorneys, judges, court staff, government employees, professors, local legislators, students, librarians, paralegals, legal secretaries, and vendors.

2. How has the program been received so far, and how will you evaluate its success?

The program has been received very well. Some ways that we have been able to evaluate its success is that presentations are usually well-attended, the positive feedback from attendees and speakers, and some of the higher profile speakers within the legal community that we have been fortunate enough to have. By striving to “get the word out” about our programs, the attendance continually increases as different sectors of the community become aware of it. We notify San Francisco Supervisors, legislators, bar associations, the public library, the courts, attorneys and law firms.

3. What “if only I knew!” advice would you give others wanting to replicate the program?

Trying to put on programs such as these can seem overwhelming at first, from coming up with ideas for speakers and topics, often cold-calling or emailing, advertising, preparing materials, projector connectivity, and other logistics. I learned to “keep the ball rolling” and ask questions, including reaching out to other libraries that had speaker programs before us, or even just bouncing ideas off colleagues. Eventually, as is typical, a process evolves, and it gets easier. As far as cold-calling and emailing go, most speakers are flattered, and make it a positive experience, even if it doesn’t work out to have them speak, which is often the case.

4. What’s the best way to spend a day off from work?

On my day off, I like to hike or bike, enjoy time with family or friends, read and watch movies or sports. When I’m able to travel, I like to visit historical places, especially on the East Coast and the Southeast.

5. What are you currently reading?

I’m listening to Leonardo DaVinci, by Walter Isaacson, and reading The White House: The History of an American Idea, by William Seale