Jason Sowards

Jason on Creating Smaller Networks of Colleagues with Similar Interests and FOMO

Jason Sowards is a Law Librarian at the Nevada Supreme Court Law Library.

Why did you join AALL?

Honestly, I didn’t even know what AALL was until I was on a job interview for my first law librarian position and I was informed that the employer would pay for my AALL membership and offer enough in professional development funds to attend the annual meeting. How did I not know about the national association for law librarianship? Luckily, I chose to just smile and nod, and I think I succeeded in not letting my ignorance of such an important professional fact show. I joined as a student member as soon as I returned from my interview. It was the best potentially embarrassing moment ever.

Why do you stay a member?

I think I remain a member because I cannot imagine not being a member. I have benefited so much from the organization that, if I were to leave, I would have a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out). I know I would not be as good at my job without AALL, and I also know I would feel very professionally isolated if I weren’t a member.

What one membership benefit is most valuable to you?

The most valuable benefits are the various special interest sections and communities we can belong to that allow us to create even smaller networks of colleagues who have similar interests and who face similar challenges. I call on these groups with some regularity when I need to ask questions, or discuss policies and procedures, especially now that I have changed library types (recently moving from academic to courts). These groups have been invaluable sounding boards.

What is your favorite memory associated with AALL?

My “favorite” memory of AALL is actually an emotional one. I had been in Boston only a day in 2012 for the annual meeting when I learned my mom had passed away. I was standing in the lobby of the headquarters hotel when I got the call and, as you might imagine, I basically broke down. However, I was among friends. The person I was sharing a hotel room with immediately went and packed all of my bags. Another friend tracked down my supervisor to let him know what had happened. And yet another dear friend made flight arrangements to get me home as soon as possible. They handled all of this within a matter of minutes, and within an hour, I was at the airport, boarding a plane home. I don’t know what I would have done without them!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Over the past few years, I have become a craft beer fanatic (which some will read as “beer snob” and I am totally OK with this). By the time this profile makes its way online, I will have likely had my 1,550th unique beer. I hope to start making my own now that I have space to do so. I am also enjoying residing in a part of the country I never thought I would live, so I am spending a lot of time exploring locally and the west coast generally. I still haven’t learned to ski, though, which comes across as an abomination to locals as Lake Tahoe is basically in our backyard.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

I am usually reading and listening to four or five books at a time (because librarian with a long commute). As a sampling, though, is Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. I discovered Brown a few years ago when I picked up The Gifts of Imperfection and I have been hooked ever since. I love her down-to-earth writing style and the way she explains the emotions of shame and vulnerability in a way that make you not ashamed to admit you are learning more about shame and vulnerability. I’m also reading two books for upcoming conferences: Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness in anticipation of the SEAALL annual meeting in Nashville, and Bob Miglani’s Embrace the Chaos: How India Taught Me to Stop Overthinking and Start Living for the NELLCO Symposium in Albany.

What’s your favorite travel/vacation destination?

I have been going to the same beach near St. Petersburg, Florida, almost every year since I was 8 years old (I’m not going to tell you which beach it is because I’m that protective of it!). My beach isn’t not too crowded, and the Tampa/St. Pete area has quite the craft beer scene, so it is pretty much my perfect destination.