Meet Akron Law’s new associate dean of library and information services
From left to right, Associate Law Librarian Sue Altmeyer, Associate Dean of Library and Information Services Kerry Lohmeier, Library Service Coordinator Tiffanie Nevins, and Associate Law Librarian Sarah Starnes. Credit: Scott Horstman
Kerry Lohmeier joined The University of Akron School of Law last August as associate dean of library and information services. She had previously served as a librarian and adjunct faculty member at the University of Utah College of Law and as a librarian and assistant professor at Concordia University School of Law in Idaho.
Lohmeier earned a Bachelor of Science in anthropology from Iowa State University and a Juris Doctor with distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law. She later added a Master of Science in information sciences from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She was admitted to the bar in New Mexico and is an active member of the American Association of Law Libraries. She has taught classes covering legal research, foreign and international research, and administrative law, and she has published and presented on topics related to legal research, foreign law research and teaching asynchronous courses.
We caught up with her in early February.
You come to Akron with a lot of experience. What do you like about the law library world?
I like the variety. You do a little bit of everything when you're in a law library. You teach, support faculty scholarship, spend time working with students and get to develop the collection and programming. You also get to work with main campus students and faculty as well as the public. It’s a really fun way to use a law degree because you get to dive into a wide range of interesting legal issues. It’s a field that’s always on the move. There’s always something new to learn.
What attracted you to Akron Law?
What appealed to me about Akron Law is the focus on students and trying to help them become practice ready. The flexibility to start law school in the spring, summer or fall and to be a full-time or part-time student also demonstrated that focus. You don't see that everywhere. I think it opens up the profession to people who might not otherwise be able to go to law school. I also like the emphasis on doing pro bono work and engaging with the community.
Are there some other things you’ve discovered since you’ve been at the law school?
Yes. I confirmed that the faculty are fantastic! I also really like the students. During the interview, everyone kept telling me how great they were. It’s true. They're not afraid to stop by your office, ask questions and just chat to make sure you know they're learning and making connections.
Was it a difficult decision to leave Utah and the west?
This position allows me to be much closer to my extended family, which is great. After living in an arid climate for so many years, it’s been a nice change to move to the Akron area. The outdoor recreation here is fantastic. The variety surprised me when I started researching the area since I knew that was something I enjoyed while living out west. My family likes to go on bike rides. We appreciate the easy access to trails and the fact that we still have mountain biking opportunities here.
Has there been an advantage in joining a law school where the dean came out of library services?
Yes! [Law School Dean] Emily [Janoski-Haehlen] has been incredibly supportive and wonderful to work with. There is always a lot to learn when you take a new position because every law school operates a little bit differently. It’s been an advantage having her available for questions as I transition into the position. It’s also an advantage to have someone who understands what goes into library operations as that isn’t something that is always understood.
Are there any new things underway at the Law Library?
We created a strategic plan last semester, which is helping us roll out some changes and collect data about what people want. The first change—working with [Director of Legal Writing Charlie Oldfield]—was to strengthen the research component of the Legal Analysis Research and Writing I class, which all 1Ls take. Research used to be half a credit of the course; now it’s a full credit. That is going to allow us to make some changes to the Advanced Legal Research course too. And we’re looking at other ways we can add to the research curriculum to strengthen student skills. For example, we're building a web presence for ourselves with YouTube videos like a series on aspects of the upper division writing assignment.
The other thing I should mention is that our associate law librarians, Sue Altmeyer and Sarah Starnes, both have library faculty status that became effective at the start of the new year. They are now non-tenure track faculty equivalent to our legal writing and clinical faculty. It’s not common nationally for librarians to have this status. So, Akron Law is at the forefront of bringing more equity into the law school professional environment, which is a point of pride for the school. This was voted on while I was being interviewed, so I did not have anything to do with it. But it was definitely something that told me this would be a great place to work. It shows the faculty clearly value the work done by the library.
Do you have any closing message?
To students, faculty, and alumni: Come see us. Come and talk to us. We’re here to help.