Charles B. Sears (1870-1950) would likely be astonished by the UB School of Law library that bears his name. In a time when the building is locked down by necessity, that’s a good thing. The law library’s array of digital resources and the librarians' agile ability to work remotely, means these vital services have continued virtually without a stumble.
“We’re doing our best to keep everything as normal as possible in terms of providing whatever services that we can,” says Elizabeth Adelman, director of the Charles B. Sears Law Library and vice dean for legal information services. “That means doing as much as we can electronically to provide resources, and making sure that people can help themselves in using those resources.”
As they always have, patrons – students, faculty and alumni, as well as the general Western New York legal community – have access to the library staff members who can help direct them.
Staff members at home are fielding calls to the library’s reference desk (716-645-2047) during normal reference hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Patrons can also reach staff by email with their questions (firstname.lastname@example.org), and can use the chat feature on the law library’s website, law.lib.buffalo.edu.
That availability is especially important for our local alumni. The New York State Supreme Court law library in downtown Buffalo, the other major avenue for Western New York lawyers to do legal research, is closed and has no online access.
“We’re here for our law school community,” Adelman says. “We will continue to support the research interests of the faculty and students. And we are happy to help our alumni - who we care very much about – as well as anyone who under normal circumstances would come to the law library.”
As UB School of Law students work remotely to complete their spring-semester work, librarians are making a special effort to be fully available. Besides the regular reference-desk hours, Student Services Librarian Brian Detweiler devotes an hour a week to an open Zoom meeting – essentially a face-to-face office hour for students who prefer a more interactive format. “Some students might want to have a more human touch,” Adelman says. “Sometimes people like to see who they’re talking to.”
In addition, she says, students can email or call to set up a one-on-one Zoom session to discuss a particular project – including the ability to screen-share so librarians can walk them through the technology of the research.