Wharton Takes Over as Law Library Director

Reposted from University of Virginia School of Law News & Media / February 1, 2018Mike Fox

A new chapter is being written at the University of Virginia School of Law, with UVA Law librarian Amy Wharton taking over as the fourth full-time director of the Arthur J. Morris Law Library.

Wharton, who earned a bachelor’s degree from UVA in 1987, had been a research and web services librarian who joined the Law Library in 2008.

“This appointment has added personal significance for me as an alumna of the University,” she said. “My UVA education has served me well throughout my career, so it’s gratifying to be able to give back to my alma mater through this important leadership role. I can’t imagine serving as library director at a better law school or library.”

Taylor Fitchett, who had served as director since 2000, announced her retirement in December but remained in the role through the hiring interim. An internal six-member committee chaired by professor George Rutherglen conducted the search for a new director.

Wharton holds a master’s in library and information studies from the University of Oklahoma and a J.D. from George Mason University.

Wharton has practiced law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, and is an associate member of the Virginia State Bar. She is also a past president of the Virginia Association of Law Libraries.

Wharton’s duties in her most recent position included providing research support to faculty, training and assistance on using databases and software, and evaluating research databases for acquisition.

Wharton has provided research and reference assistance and serves as a library liaison to first-year law students and summer research assistants. She has also taught legal research.

“Through its services, collections and space, the Law Library contributes to the key things that make this a great law school: research, education and community,” she said. “I have a great deal of pride in who we are and what we do.”

Wharton said getting to direct library operations will be a meaningful experience and that she looks forward to continuing to foster the library’s relationship with faculty and students.

“The Law School has long succeeded in promoting an exceptionally strong sense of community,” she said. “When alumni visit, it’s clear from the interest they show in our library that it was an important part of their experience.”

She said UVA Law’s leadership under Dean Risa Goluboff and Fitchett, as well as the faculty’s support as a whole, have set up both her and the library for continued success.

“That Amy is one of our own is a testament to both Taylor and Amy,” Goluboff said. “I am confident that Amy’s vision, experience and diligence will make the library’s future as bright as its past.”

Her predecessor leaves a legacy of being a model manager, Wharton said, and has recruited and retained a talented team.

“She’s been a strong advocate for making sure that the library has what it needs to succeed in fulfilling its mission to the Law School,” Wharton said of Fitchett. “Taylor genuinely cares for each member of the staff and everyone here with whom she’s worked, and she’ll be greatly missed.”

Managing the Law Library’s growth and transition into the digital age has been a top accomplishment, Wharton said. “We’ve come a long way.”

“The one thing that can always be counted on is change,” she said. “The Law Library is interdependent with a number of rapidly evolving ecosystems involving higher education, legal services, publishing and technology. We’ll adapt to change where we must and lead where we can and should.”

Moving forward, Wharton said, staff are taking a close look at library support for education and scholarship around emerging technologies that affect law and society, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“We’ll have a lot of conversations in the coming months with stakeholders at the Law School and experts beyond our walls,” she said. “I expect that we’ll see new library initiatives emerging from these conversations.”

Media Contact
Director of Media Relations
mfox@law.virginia.edu / (434) 982-6832

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Our Annual Art Show, “We The People”

On Thursday night, the Law Library will hold a reception to express gratitude to the sixteen photographers whose work comprises this year’s art show, “We The People.” Curated by Stacey Evans, the exhibit features works from photographers from Charlottesville and elsewhere in Virginia and D.C..

The show looks at different ways that photographers document and photograph people. Says Evans, “[F]or a photography exhibit, [We The People] seemed an all-encompassing title to give me the opportunity to look at different ways that photographers document and photograph people throughout the country.” In selecting the individual images, Evans looked at different topics – race, religion, borders, personas, and identities – featuring people throughout the United States. Some images capture people engaged in the “daily actions that we go through as a citizen,” such as riding a train or a bus. At the north end of the exhibit is the “Mangini Studio Series,” a collaborative project of Gordon Stettinius and Terry Brown. Over an eight-year period, Stettinius in various reinventions of his persona, and Brown chronicled the transformations in a series of studio portraits. The subject of a TEDx talk, the series explores “how attitudes and impressions toward people can shift based on their appearance.” 

Says Evans, “As people walk through and look at the exhibit, I want them to look and question at the different perspectives … and the different way that we interpret, look at images, look at people, and embrace differences … and understand that we might come from a different place, but that there is a ‘we’ in “We The People.” But … question who is that ‘we,’ and redefine, “Who is your ‘we’?”

The reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Law Library. It is open to the public.

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A Brief Reflection on Difficult Times for Our Community

The Law Library stands with our Dean and all in our community who are trying to grapple with the horror brought here last weekend by white supremacist groups. We’re deeply grateful for the many expressions of care and concern we’ve received from so many this week, including our colleagues at the American Association of Law Libraries and the Virginia Library Association, vendors, friends, and current and former students working in the U.S. and beyond. Knowing that others stand in solidarity with us is a gift that can’t be measured. 

candlelight vigil
Community members left their candles at the base of the Jefferson statue at the end of last night’s candlelight vigil.

Our hearts go out to the families and friends of Heather Heyer, who lost her life while defending our core societal values of diversity and equality, and to those of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the rule of law in our community. Many others – some with whom we have personal ties — were severely injured during these incidents, and we extend our hopes for the swift and complete healing of their wounds.

It is hard to express our sentiments with any greater eloquence than did Law School Dean Risa Goluboff:

“It is not only our values but our mission that puts us at the center of the struggle to do better. We are in the business of educating and equipping the next generation of lawyers to promote justice, equality, and the rule of law. At my most optimistic, I believe that this weekend will prove galvanizing for our students, as they enter a profession committed to testing ideas through dialogue and persuasion, rather than violence and intimidation. Now more than ever, the mission of the Law School and the values we hold dear are critical to healing and bettering this city and this nation.”

Our librarians and staff are preparing to welcome our new and returning students this year. We stand ready to do our part to help equip them with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to become facilitators and leaders of tomorrow’s better society. We are honored to serve both an institution and a profession that enable that possibility.

 

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Jefferson Trust Award to Facilitate Digitization of Jeffersonian Law Book Collection

Congratulations to our Digital Collections team, which was just awarded a grant from the Jefferson Trust to fund the Digital 1828 Catalog Collection Project. The project seeks to assemble and digitize all of the law books that were hand selected by Thomas Jefferson for inclusion in the 1828 Catalogue of the Library of the University of Virginia.  

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Law Librarians Present Travaux Préparatoires at Human Rights Conference

At the “What’s Next for Human Rights Scholarship?” conference on March 31, law librarians Ben Doherty and Loren Moulds presented the Law Library’s new searchable database of preparatory works, or travaux préparatoires,[1] of the United Nations’ core human rights agreements. More than 30 human rights scholars from North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania participated in the two-day interdisciplinary conference, which was organized by the UVA Working Group in Human Rights Research.

Ben began the presentation by explaining that, until the Law Library undertook the initiative, the travaux were only selectively available in electronic format, as excerpts in published guides to the travaux, and in hardcopy or microfiche at U.N. depository libraries. A Refdesk question from Professor Mila Versteeg led the law librarians to conclude that “it’s not available” was not an answer the Law Library was willing to give. Using the published guides and the United Nations’ UNBISNET database, the Law Library compiled fully-searchable, digital copies of as many of the travaux préparatoires as could be found. The travaux database and other recent digital initiatives, such as the Neil Gorsuch Project, a website that assembles all of Gorsuch’s written opinions and much of his other writings and speeches, are examples of how the Law Library’s content and services are driven by inquiry. Ben advised attendees that, “instead of thinking of research as simply being able to get what is already available,” a scholar can push “research methods forward by thinking about what you need for your scholarship and partnering with your associated library to create those datasets or resources.”

Loren likewise encouraged “scholars not to feel limited in our research plans, particularly when it comes to issues of access to materials, the creation of new types of digital collections, or the adoption of new analytical techniques.” His presentation included an overview of the website and a discussion of the technology used to create it, but he situated his technological discussion within the Law Library’s philosophical approach to scholarly research. Explaining that the Law Library provides ever-expanding expertise in a field that includes scholarly publishing, copyright issues, and the aggregation, management, and preservation of data, Loren stated, “We consider ourselves empathic stewards of knowledge production through collaboration with researchers, technologists, and other librarians working to develop the intellectual infrastructures necessary for new kinds of scholarship and research methods in a digital age.”

After the presentation, Ben and Loren took questions from the conferees. The conclusion of the ensuing discussion was that the travaux database is an example of modern librarianship: a specific inquiry (“What role did smaller countries play in drafting human rights treaties?”) was stymied by a specific problem (the lack of systematic, comprehensive access to the travaux préparatoires), which was resolved by the expertise residing in the Law Library.

[1] The travaux préparatoires are documents that are generated in the drafting and negotiation of a treaty. Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, treaty terms are to be interpreted according to their ordinary meaning. However, Article 32 provides that the travaux préparatoires can be used as a supplementary means of interpretation in certain instances.

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Remembering Jeb

With deep sadness, the Law Library joins Special Collections assistant Teresa Ritzert in mourning the loss of her service dog, Bubba JEB (“Just Everyone’s Bubba”), who succumbed to canine cancer on Monday.

While at the Law Library, Jeb acquired another job as well. Once he got Teresa safely settled in her office, he would act as the Library’s social chair.  Stationing himself at his regular spot in the hallway outside Teresa’s door, Jeb would watch intently for any sign of a friend – whether that friendship was established or just about to be – who would stop by to give a treat or a rub. Jeb took his duties as social chair very seriously, setting up a daily schedule of rounds for himself on the first and second floors, stopping for brief visits wherever each of his BFFs (that is to say, everyone) was regularly found.When Teresa came to work for the Special Collections department of the Law Library in July 2015, Jeb came to work here, too. Jeb’s primary job was to escort Teresa, who is deaf, to and from work. Last fall, MoreUs featured a two-part article on Jeb and his life as a service dog.

Last fall, we learned with great sorrow that Jeb had cancer. Through chemotherapy, remission and the eventual resurgence of his illness, Jeb came to work nearly every day, never shirking his duties of service, nor on his social obligations. Even when depleted of energy by his illness, he would rally at the sight of a student or staff member “bubba,” bounding down the hall to greet them with exuberance and joy. Students and staff were very supportive of Jeb and Teresa throughout Jeb’s illness. Some brought in a regular supply of venison for his special diet. Others visited frequently and took him outside for walks. Teresa attributes much of Jeb’s unexpectedly long life and well-being to the outpouring of love and support that he received from the Law School community.

The Law Library has set up a memorial display for Jeb at the bottom of the main stairway. A large writing pad has been placed there for those who wish to share their thoughts and memories of Jeb with Teresa.

Many songs require ears to be heard, but those like Jeb’s require only the heart. Though Jeb is gone, his song goes on, and we are all the richer for it.  

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“Places of the Piedmont” Art Reception Thursday, September 1

This week the Law Library opens a new art show, Places of the Piedmont, an exhibit of watercolors by Werner K. Sensbach (1923–2015). A public reception will be held Thursday, September 1, from 5 to 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Law Library.

About the Artist

Werner K. Sensbach was born in Mannheim, Germany in 1923. He worked throughout his life in various fields of artistic endeavor. With professional degrees from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was an architect for firms in Germany, Switzerland, and New York. He served as city planner in Columbia, South Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, and as the University of Virginia Campus Architect during its intensive growth period from 1965 until 1991. Werner Sensbach was also Professor of Urban Planning in the School of Architecture. Upon his retirement in 1991, the University planted an American oak tree between the East Range and Brooks Hall in his honor. Retirement allowed him to discover the Virginia landscape through the eyes of an artist. In watercolor field sketches and al fresco oil paintings, he portrayed the landscape of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains as well as the architecture of the Grounds of the University of Virginia. 

Artist’s Statement

Werner Sensbach’s work flows naturally from his interest in the landscape and man-made environment of the Piedmont Region. The Grounds of the University of Virginia and the City of Charlottesville are the subject of many of his architectural paintings. In the mid-1940s, Werner Sensbach received his initial artistic instruction from painters of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Realism) movement of the Twenties: Erich Heckel (1883 – 1970) and Karl Hubbuch (1891 – 1979) of Karlsruhe, Germany. Their style of slashing line drawings proved useful in his later career in architecture, urban design, and campus planning. After retiring from his position as University of Virginia architect and planner in 1991, Werner studied at the University of Virginia Department of Art with Richard Crozier, Phil Geiger, Dean Dass, William Bennett, Lincoln Perry & Elizabeth Schoyer.

 

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Best wishes to Bryan Kasik!

Bryan Kasik and AJM
Among the many things AJM will miss about Bryan is his affinity for all things zombie.

The law library sadly bids adieu to Bryan Kasik today as he heads over to Alderman Library on Main Grounds to begin work as a Reference Librarian. Bryan has spent the past nine years with us as a our Faculty Services Coordinator. For all of the law faculty and students who have appreciated how quickly we have been able to pick up and deliver books and other items from any of the other libraries at UVa–Bryan has been the backbone to that service. Every day for the past nine years, he has happily stalked the Grounds at UVa for us with his book bag, flying up and down the stairs, in and out of the stacks, retrieving books and microfilm and journals, and then delivering them all promptly to you. Bryan made his library runs in the heat of summer, in the snow, in the rain, all with unflagging energy and enthusiasm.

Tim Breeden with Bryan Kasik
Tim Breeden (left) points the way to Alderman Library for Bryan at his farewell gathering today.

The law library prides itself on its service to faculty, staff and students and Bryan has made us look good every day. He has also been one of our friendly faces at our circulation and reference desks, getting to know many of the students who have passed through law school along with all of the faculty. We will miss him. We’ll miss his energy, his creativity, his enthusiasm, and his ability to somehow walk down stairs while reading a book. Fortunately for the University community–he is not going far. Look him up in the Alderman Library Reference Department: he will be happy to help you find what you need.

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Grilled Cheese Melts Away Exam Time Blues

Law students enjoying a comfort food study break.
Law students enjoy a comfort food study break.

A record number of law students lined up inside and outside of MyLab for last evening’s semi-annual Grilled Cheese Night. One hundred forty-two students patiently awaited the warm gooey goodness of one of the Law Library’s special recipe treats. Despite long lines, spirits among the waiting students seemed high. One student was heard to say that the event was “perfect for the middle of exams.” Another exclaimed, “This is like a taste of home!”    

The event was not without a few stressful moments, however. Librarian-chefs Ben Doherty, Micheal Klepper and Tim Breeden offered both tomato and non-tomato editions of the sandwich. One student requested a gluten-free edition – just two slices of tomato with cheese in between and no bread – which none of the chefs had prepared before. But, being the true service professionals that they are, they were able to fulfill the special order to the customer’s satisfaction. Later, staff began to worry that supplies might not hold out through the 7 p.m. closing. “It looked like we might run out of bread,” said Breeden. “But as luck would have it, the last piece hit the butter just before 7!”   

Jeb submits the winning guess on the number of sandwiches served on Grilled Cheese Night
Jeb submits the winning guess on the number of sandwiches served on Grilled Cheese Night.

 

This semester’s GCN featured a new twist – Law Library staff were invited to guess ahead of time the number of sandwiches that would be served. The staff member submitting the closest guess was to be awarded their own grilled cheese sandwich for this morning’s breakfast. The winner was none other than Library Service Dog Extraordinaire, Bubba Jeb. Jeb’s owner, Teresa, was prepared to submit a guess of 121 sandwiches, but she said Jeb nudged her and nodded upward to say, “no it’s 136.” Though Jeb’s diet is strictly gluten-free, he was delighted to receive his prize in the form of some cheese and a few potato chips.

– AJM 

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