AALL Spectrum—Leader Profile of Library Services Director Sarah Mauldin

Sarah Mauldin, the library services director for Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP, and a long-time member of the American Association of Law Libraries, was profiled in the latest AALL Spectrum.  Below are a few highlights of the interview, but you can read the full profile in the November/December 2016 issue of the Spectrum.

Sarah on demonstrating the library value’s to the firm:

When asked how she demonstrates the library’s value to the firm, Sarah responded that part of it is “being very good at what I do.”  She also “take[s] on projects that aren’t necessarily library projects, but are for the good of the fi­rm” and spends a lot of time onboarding new associates and summer associates.  According to Sarah, “My fi­rm has given me the opportunity to spend two hours training associates instead of the usual 10 to 20 minutes that many other librarians get. In the end, the associates look better and I have a wonderful selection of attorneys who understand when to seek my assistance, because eventually, they will be the leaders of the firm.”

Sarah on challenges facing law libraries:

“From a law ­firm standpoint, getting people to understand the balance of print and online – and that even if something costs more, there may be value in purchasing it – is a constant struggle. Intellectual property law is in all four of my offices; but I can’t have the print of everything in every office.  The goal is to provide the same services to people in outlying offices without spending any more money. You need to shepherd people through what’s best for the fi­rm and the future of the ­firm.”

Sarah thinks outsourcing is also a challenge. “It raises the question, what about our value? How can someone who doesn’t know the attorneys provide the same level of service? Having a professional law librarian who understands your ­firm’s business can’t be replaced.”

Sarah on being an effective leader:

“It’s also important to understand that you don’t know everything – be willing to appreciate the fact that someone might know more about something than you do. Every now and then you’re going to need to reach out to someone who knows more.”

Thanks to Sarah for being an active and dedicated member of the Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals Special Interest Section of AALL.  As information professionals, we are well aware that we don’t always know everything, which is why it so essential to have a great network of law librarians and information professionals like Sarah available to us!

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