Claire Toomey Durkin & Bill Schwesig – 2023 Lifetime Achievement in Law Librarianship Honorees

The Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Law Librarianship Award is presented annually to a librarian for an outstanding lifetime achievement in law librarianship.

The 2023 Honorees were Claire Toomey Durkin and William “Bill” Schwesig.

Claire Toomey Durkin

Claire began her career as an elementary school teacher in Chicago and San Francisco but then transitioned to a career in law, graduating from The John Marshall Law School. After practicing law for approximately 10 years, she returned to John Marshall, now UIC School of Law, as a librarian, where she remained until her retirement in 2022.

Throughout her career, Claire advanced in leadership roles, serving as a Reference Librarian, Circulation Supervisor, Associate Director for Research & Instruction, and served one year as an interim Acting Library Director.

As her colleagues shared, Claire displayed a natural gift for management. One could always count on her to lend an understanding ear. Everyone felt comfortable talking to Claire and she felt comfortable talking to others regardless of differing ages, opinions or backgrounds. A true “people person”, Claire handled difficult situations with a unique combination of compassion, tact and humor. 

Claire has always been committed to the law school’s students and faculty and consistently delivered exceptional service. To everyone at the school, it was obvious that she cared deeply about the success of the librarians she managed and the success of their students. 

Bill Schwesig

Bill Schwesig joined the University of Chicago Law Library in 1986 as Reference Librarian. In 1990, his responsibilities grew to collection development as he became the Reference Librarian and Bibliographer for Common Law, a position he held for the next 27 years. In this role, he built the D’Angelo Law Library’s world-class collections in United States law, common law materials for foreign jurisdictions, and titles in law-related disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

Bill became D’Angelo Law Library’s Anglo-American and Historical Collections Librarian in 2017, adding dedicated work building collections on the Law School’s history and rare books to his portfolio. 

Bill has made outstanding contributions to the Library and Law School communities in his thirty-six-year career at the University of Chicago. He has been a valued colleague for his vast knowledge of legal information sources and law technologies, broad intellect, creativity, commitment to service, and sound judgment.