Daniel on the Value of the KnowItAALL Newsletter & His Favorite AALL Memory
Daniel Radthorne is a Reference Librarian at the Tarlton Law Library at The University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas.
WHY DID YOU JOIN AALL?
For me, joining AALL was synonymous with joining the profession. I came to law librarianship from a private legal practice, where I had the benefit of watching top-notch academic and firm libraries perform what seemed like library magic. I knew I had a lot to learn, and that AALL would provide access to the resources and networks that could help me begin building a new career.
WHY DO YOU STAY A MEMBER?
I have been really impressed by the active communities within AALL, the regular professional development opportunities, and the stockpile of resources available to newer law librarians. I have been a member of a large state bar association where the only forms of substantive “engagement” were the annual dues and a CLE requirement. I appreciate that AALL creates so many more avenues for professional enrichment and personal connection.
WHAT ONE MEMBER BENEFIT IS MOST VALUABLE TO YOU?
While I am a big fan of the regular Webinars, the KnowItAALL newsletter might actually be my favorite benefit. In a general sense it is a daily reminder that I am a member of a great community with similar interests, but I’ve also been really taken with the consistently high-quality material. After learning the nuts and bolts of my job as an academic law librarian, the next thing I focused on was learning about the profession as a whole. What do law librarians think about, what are their priorities, and how do they conceptualize the value they provide? The blogs, news stories, and other links included in KnowItAALL are like a daily snapshot of that professional psyche. I have found this incredibly valuable as I continue to grow professionally.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY ASSOCIATED WITH AALL?
My favorite memory is the first time I stepped on the floor of the exhibit hall at the 2018 AALL Annual Meeting in Baltimore. I was still a practicing attorney, and had traveled across the country to the convention on a fact-finding mission. I wanted to explore whether law librarianship might be right for me. Until I stepped into that convention center, I don’t think I really understood the scale of the profession—I had only met about half a dozen law librarians in person. Yet, here was this huge convention center full of hundreds of people, vendors, and resources. The best part was that everyone I talked to was a legal research nerd, just like me. It helped me realize there was a whole community out there that I could become a part of.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I enjoy rock climbing, hiking, and backpacking. I recently moved to Austin, Texas, where I’ve had a wonderful time exploring state parks that are jam-packed with unfamiliar plants and wildlife. I am also a big fan of board games, home DIY projects, tabletop RPGs, and college basketball.
WHAT BOOK(S) ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I tend to read multiple books at once, and I am just finishing up three very different titles: 1) The Food Explorer by Daniel Stone, about the early 20th century USDA program that sent botanists around the world to find new and interesting foods; 2) The Library Book by Susan Orlean, about the mysterious 1986 fire that almost destroyed the largest public library in Los Angeles; and 3) The So Blue Marble, by Dorothy B. Hughes, a fascinating work of early detective fiction by one of the most criminally underappreciated pioneers of the noir mystery. Some colleagues and I also just started our own tiny book club. Our first book is Robert K. Wittman’s Priceless, a memoir by the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team about his career as an undercover agent investigating art theft.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL/VACATION DESTINATION?
I had the opportunity to travel to Japan two years ago and ride the Shimanami Kaido, a bike path that connects the islands of Honshu and Shikoku via a series of dramatic, towering suspension bridges. The scenery definitely takes your breath away (as do the steep hills—I was glad I rented an ebike). I also have a soft spot for my wife’s family farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, as well as the area around Inverness in northern Scotland where she and I eloped seven years ago.
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