July-August CBA Report

I f you walk past my office on any given day, you are very likely to hear me say, “There’s a great book on that!” Like so many lawyers, I was a very verbal child and a vora- cious reader. In a crowd, I was often the one “With a dreamy, far-off look, And her nose stuck in a book.” ( Beauty and the Beast, Disney). I am not entirely sure where my love of books and reading originated, although I think that since my parents doubled my baby room with my father’s study and all its overstuffed book- cases, it only seems fair to credit them. Books, reading, and stories fill many of my childhood memo- ries. My parents liked to share stories of how, before I could read or write, they would find me carrying a beloved book around the house, stopping to sit down in place, flip the pages, and nod peri- odically. The way they would tell the story, the words on the page somehow spoke to me even before I could speak them. My favorite part of every school week was when the teacher passed out the Scholastic book flyers. Impatiently, I circled every book that looked interesting, often marking up the entire catalog. I wanted them all, and the harshest part of the week was when my dad set a limit to the number of books I could choose for the week. As a child, I read a lot. I mean, a lot. I mean, like, winning an award for most books read in the 2nd grade Multiple Sclerosis read-a-thon so that my sponsors actually had to donate a lot of money, a lot. Like, earning an award from the high school library for checking out the most books, a lot. Incidentally, both of those awards are books, which still proudly rest on my bookshelves. I hadn’t thought of these pieces of my personal history until I was humbled by Health & Well Being Committee Chair Tabitha Hochscheid’s request that I write a little about what led me to my current position as the reference librarian at the Hamilton County Law Library. I wasn’t quite sure what to share that might be of any interest to anyone. My path to the law library was—a smidgeon winding. But, it is a perfect merge of my library and legal careers. As Kirkegaard famously noted, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” And, in looking backwards, the path makes complete sense. Because of my love of books while growing up, I was a regular at every bookstore in town, not to mention quite a few libraries. I started volunteering at my school library when I was 10, followed by a work-study permit for three years in the Walnut Hills High School library during study hall. In college, I worked as a library clerk in the Barbour-Newberry Library in the dorms. Then, at the UC Law Library as a 2L and 3L. After law school, I found my footing in a few different legal positions. Each experience, each case, each project, each report, each memo, each brief, each letter is a brick helping form the road to where I stand today. In 2009, I put out my own shingle. At the same time that I opened my practice, I also took a chance and applied for a part- time position posted at the Main Branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (aka, “Main at PLCH.”). They needed someone to work a schedule that was only nights and weekends, which blended well with my court appearances during the days. Shortly after I started at PLCH, I added an additional part- time position working on the legal hotline at Pro Seniors. That work led to a full time position for the next eight years, during which I also stayed at the library. At Pro Seniors, I worked under a number of different grants, culminating in The Annie W. and Elizabeth M. Anderson Legal Fellowship for the Prevention and Resolution of Financial Exploitation of Seniors, which ended in December of 2017. And, at that time, there was not another one to follow it. So, on unsure footing, I picked up as many extra shifts at the public library as I could, and returned to as many part-time hours on the legal hotline as I could, and tried to figure out my next steps. Not only did Tabitha’s request for this story remind me of where I’ve been, but, I recently finished Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Option B,” about facing adversity, reinvention and creating joy for oneself in the face of all of it. Reinvention is in part a key to adapting to when life veers off into the unknown, and takes a detour from what we think it is going to look like, or should look like. She often points out that resilience is one of the keys to managing stress and creating a healthy and balanced life. Every day, I feel so grateful and appreciative that the Hamilton County Law Library was looking for a reference librarian who had both legal and library experience. I love helping our patrons find the cases, treatises, forms, articles, and books they need. Every day, it feels like fate, or as Marilla Cuthbert would say about my favorite literary plucky red-head, “It was Providence.” ( Anne of Green Gables , L.M. Montgomery). Kurlanksy is a reference librarian for the Hamilton County Law Library. MY PATH to the Hamilton County Law Library By Amy L. Kurlansky www.CincyBar.org July/August 2019 CBA REPORT l 17 Balanced Living