Award for Outstanding In-House Publication

The Outstanding In-House Publication Award is given to an individual or group who created in-house library materials (print or online) that are user and staff oriented, are relevant for law libraries, and are outstanding in quality.

The 2020 Winner is Jesse Bowman for the Pritzker Legal Research Center’s Amazon Alexa Skill.  Find out more about Jesse and his award winning publication, and help us wish Jesse a well deserved congratulations!

Jesse Bowman

Jesse is the Associate Law Librarian for Technology Initiatives and Instruction at the Northwestern Pritzker Legal Research Center.  Before coming to Northwestern in 2014, Jesse worked at the SMU Underwood Law Library, as well the Valparaiso University Law Library.  Jesse lives in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago and, when he’s not working, he likes to spend his time visiting craft breweries and walking his dog, Willow.

What was the impetus to publish the Amazon Alexa Skill?

A few years back, I was part of a university-wide working group at Northwestern that considered applications of Amazon’s Alexa technology in higher education.  One idea we discussed was using this technology to convey information to students, and it occurred to me that our library might be able to use Alexa to provide answers to basic, frequently-asked questions.  We already had a robust database of questions and answers stored in our LibAnswers module, so this provided a great starting point.  Once I figured out how to use the Amazon Skills Blueprint site, it was pretty straightforward to import this content and build the skill.

What has been the response to the Skill?

Several students have asked me about the skill, and Amazon’s analytics also show that people are interacting with it.  Especially now that we’re working remotely, I’m eager to continue improving upon and marketing the skill to our students.

What does this award mean/would you like to thank anyone? 

I was very flattered to receive this award!  Building this skill was one of those moments where you realize you have a great job, and I appreciate the fact that both Jamie Sommer and George Pike always encourage me to try these sorts of things.