Beau Steenken is an instructional services librarian at the University of Kentucky Law Library. He joined AALL in 2010 after getting his MLIS from the University of Texas at Austin, where he also earned his BA in history in 2000 and his JD in 2003.
Why did you join AALL?
I initially joined AALL as a student member while attending the University of Texas School of Information. My primary reason for joining at the time was a belief (a correct one, as it turned out!) that AALL membership would provide networking opportunities that could lead to landing a law librarian job. Indeed, I attended the 2010 Southeastern Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries (SEAALL) and AALL Annual Meetings and met with several potential employers at each. One of my meetings was with the University of Kentucky College of Law Library, now my professional home. A secondary reason why I joined was to take advantage of the educational opportunities afforded by the organization, and attending the conferences helped with that as well!
Why do you stay a member?
My original reasons for joining remain in force. AALL provides wonderful networking opportunities. While my goal in networking is no longer finding gainful employment, developing relationships with law librarians from other places—besides being both really interesting and rewarding on a personal level—helps me perform my professional duties. For instance, if I have a question about legislative history resources available in South Carolina or need to obtain a copy of a unique document in Texas, I know to whom to turn. Furthermore, being part of a professional association also makes it easier to call members I haven’t actually met and to form an instant connection. AALL also features many great educational opportunities from Annual Meetings to webinars and publications, all of which I find to be of great value.
What one membership benefit is most valuable to you?
Although I find many aspects of membership to be beneficial, the one that I deem most valuable would have to be the multitude of professional development opportunities available (not least because my position at UK is tenure-track). With national and regional Annual Meetings, Spectrum
, and national and chapter committees for which to volunteer, AALL membership allows ample chances to present, publish, or serve—all activities that are both personally and professionally rewarding.
What about being a member makes you most proud?
I am proud of how open and welcoming we strive to be as a profession. In particular, I like how AALL recognizes the need to encourage greater diversity in law libraries and takes steps accordingly. Incidentally, the AALL Minority Leadership Development Award
application, now available on AALLNET, can be submitted anytime before April 1!
What is your favorite memory associated with AALL?
Attending the 2010 SEAALL meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia, really stands out in my memory. It was my first experience of a professional conference, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new colleagues from across the country, attending interesting educational programs, and participating in scheduled activities, such as touring historical sites. Also, I had the most remarkable sandwich at one of the local eating establishments in Williamsburg. They called it the “Carolina Surf ’n’ Turf,” and it consisted of Carolina-style barbeque (mmm, vinegar) and Chesapeake Bay crab salad combined in equal parts on a single bun. It was delicious!