Ann Marie Melvie
Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan (Regina) ; President, Canadian Association of Law Libraries
Tell us a little about your educational background and how you entered the legal information industry.
Right after high school, I attended the University of Saskatchewan and obtained a Bachelor of Education degree. Soon afterwards, I got the idea that working in a library might be an interesting thing to do, so I enrolled in the Library Technician course at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology in Saskatoon. My first job as a library tech was at Robertson Stromberg, a large law firm in the city. I was hired as the assistant to a lawyer who also had her Masters in Library and Information Studies. I’ll always be grateful for everything she taught me about law librarianship. Two years after I started at the firm, she left to pursue employment elsewhere, and I was left in charge of the library. Thank goodness for Peta Bates, the librarian at the Law Society Library, and luckily for me, my mentor! I am grateful for her time and for all the knowledge she passed on to me. Both of these fine librarians encouraged me to join and take an active part in CALL/ACBD.
I enjoyed my job at the law firm, but after eight years, it was time to move on. I went to Brandon, Manitoba, to work in the Assiniboine Community College Library. I liked working in an educational institution, but soon found that I missed working with what I know – legal materials. There were lawyers on staff who taught courses in the Business division of the college. Whenever they needed assistance in the library, I would practically lunge at the counter to help them. The librarian at the College encouraged me to think about obtaining my Master’s degree. I’m not sure if she saw promise in me, or if she was just tired of working with me, but three years later, I moved to Edmonton, Alberta, to pursue my MLIS.
During my second year of library school, I found out that the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan was looking for a librarian. I applied for the job, was interviewed, and started the job right after graduation. That was sixteen years ago, and I’ve been at the Court ever since!
How has being involved in CALL helped you professionally (e.g. scholarships & grants, continuing education, networking)?
CALL/ACBD has been an important aspect of my continuing education as a law librarian in all of the ways you mentioned. I distinctly remember a presentation made to my library school class at the University of Alberta. I don’t recall who spoke to us, but she told us how important it is for librarians/information professionals to become involved in a professional association. I knew what she said was true, because I had had the chance to be involved in CALL/ACBD when I worked at the law firm.
Like many other professions, ours is one that is constantly evolving. There’s no better way to keep up than by attending conferences, participating in webinars, and by getting to know colleagues who work in various parts of Canada and around the world! The educational sessions at the conferences have been a tremendous help to me. The webinars are an excellent way to keep up with what is happening in our profession. And the networking has been invaluable!
During my second year of library school, I was thrilled to be chosen as the recipient of the Diana M. Priestly Memorial Scholarship, which is intended to support professional development in our field. I still remember opening the envelope that contained the cheque for $2500! It helped me so much during that year of school.
What’s one change in the profession or industry you’ve embraced?
Free, open access to legal information! Be it to the wealth of legal information on CanLII, BAILII, and AustLII, to open access journals such as the Canadian Bar Review, to having free online access to such things as the Citation Guide for the Courts of Saskatchewan (a shameless plug here), free access to legal information is a powerful thing!
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to break into the legal information industry?
Be open to whatever career opportunities come your way. You may have in mind that you want to work in a particular type of law library, but be open to working in other types of law libraries that you may not have considered. You may be pleasantly surprised!
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
When I was a child, I lived for three years in Ngaoundéré, Cameroon, Africa. One of my favourite memories is sitting in a mango tree with my friends, eating delicious mangos, with the juice dripping down my arms. Then one day, I fell out of a mango tree! Want to know what happened next? Ask me to tell you the story when I see you at the 2018 CALL/ACBD annual conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia (another shameless plug)!