George Pike began his new position as Director of the Pritzker Legal Research Center and Senior Lecturer at the Northwestern University School of Law in November, coming to Northwestern after nine years as Director of the Law Library at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
CALL Bulletin Committee member Lindsey Carpino caught up with George to find out how he’s settling in.
LC: What are some new things that you’ve learned in your new position?
GP: I have learned more about the quality of the students we have here at Northwestern. The students have large expectations, and I am impressed at how our faculty is able to serve the needs of our students and meet those high expectations. I am also becoming familiar with resources I had never been exposed to before. Also, I am impressed with some of our collections, including our international law resources.
LC: What do you love most about the job of being a law library director?
GP: Being a law library director is all the fun of law without the clients. You get to participate in a wider variety of activities. I always say that being a director is comprised of 50 percent instruction, 50 percent reference, and 50 percent administration.
LC: What’s been the most surprising thing about Chicago for you?
GP: The winters have been interesting! Even though the winters have been interesting, I am more concerned about the heat and humidity to come. What really surprises me about Chicago is how livable the city is despite how large it is. It is not gritty like other larger cities can be. Chicago is really a great city and a surprisingly easy adjustment.
LC: How do you get involved with your professional peers?
GP: Being a director allows you to have a different connection with your peers since there are fewer of us. It also allows for more interaction with other library directors on a daily basis for advice and guidance. I also get together with members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), which consists of the Big Ten law schools, as well as with the members of the top 15 law schools and CLAS.
LC: Why did you join CALL?
GP: I have always been involved at various degrees in the local AALL chapters. I am interested in getting to know the Chicago area librarians better. Also, I would like to learn more about the Chicago legal world and be able to tap into that resource in the future. I hope to form friendships as well as professional resources. I hope to call upon others for help and hope they would feel comfortable calling me as well.
LC: Why would you encourage others to get involved in professional organizations?
GP: I think a joining a professional organization is a great resource wherever you are in your library career. Joining a professional organization might mean mentorship for some. It might mean forming relationships, both professional and friendships. Also, it might mean gaining resources that will be mutually beneficial.
LC: What’s the most important thing you learned and applied on a daily basis from library school?
GP: One of the most important things I learned in library school was how to think like a manager. I also learned the bigger picture of how libraries operate through learning processes such as cataloging. Also, access points are another important concept from library school that I still teach to my students. I always encourage my students to start with the information they do know and then go from there when using a database.
LC: Any advice for library students just beginning their careers?
GP: I would tell library students to get as much breadth as they can. I would encourage them to look at the bigger picture.
Also, do not ignore a library side that you feel you might not work in. As a reference librarian, you need to learn the technical and cataloging side. And I would tell technical services librarians that they should learn the reference side.
Finally, I would advise library students to determine their long-term goals at the outset of their careers.