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Five Questions with Alan Kilpatrick

July 3, 2020

By Alan Kilpatrick (Reposted from the CALL/ACBD Blog.) 

Alan Kilpatrick (| Reference Librarian, Law Society of Saskatchewan

1. Tell us a little about your educational background and how you entered the legal information industry.

My journey to legal librarianship was fortuitous.  After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Vancouver Island University (VIU), I took some time to reflect on what I wanted to do with my life.  Throughout my undergraduate degree, I worked weekends and summers as an Army Reservist and part time as a library page at VIU’s library and the Vancouver Island Regional Library.  Shortly after graduating from VIU, I spent a year working with the Canadian Forces security effort at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. While this was an amazing experience, I realized it wasn’t the correct career path for me.

Here, the connections I had made with the library world as a page paid off.  After speaking with several librarians, I decided that attending Western University’s Master of Library & Information Science program was the right professional move.

At Western, I developed my career goals and identified my professional interests.  I gained an interest in reference service, legal research, and government information after a co-op with Transport Canada’s Ottawa Library as a reference librarian.  I discovered an interest in copyright law and instruction after an exciting opportunity to research and present on Western Library’s Access Copyright agreement.

Following graduation, I received a summer internship with Saskatchewan’s Legislative Library.  During this time, I learned about the Law Society Library.  After handing in a resume in 2013, an opportunity presented itself and I haven’t looked back since. 

2. How has being involved in CALL helped you professionally (e.g. scholarships & grants, continuing education, networking)?

CALL membership has been extremely beneficial professionally.  When I became a law librarian, CALL connected me to a large professional network and with mentors who helped me develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in this industry.  Attendance at CALL’s New Law Librarian Institute helped me further develop my knowledge and create a competitive legal information skill set.  I frequently contact the colleagues I’ve met through CALL for advice, assistance, and encouragement.

Our association’s annual conference has been a source of wonderful networking opportunities and topnotch professional development.  As legal innovation accelerates and legal information resources evolve, our skill set must keep pace.  I’m confident CALL will help me do this.

As my career grows, I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve the association through various committees, including being on the Board of Directors for the 2019-2021 term.

3. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to break into the legal information industry?

Network!  During CALL’s 2018 conference in Halifax, I was privileged to co-present Taking the ‘Work’ Out of Networking: Build Relationships, Not a Stack of Business Cards with Bronwyn Guiton, Veronica Kollbrand, and Megan Siu.  During the presentation, I made five networking suggestions for new and prospective legal information professionals:

• It’s never too early to start networking: It’s been valuable at every stage of my career.
• Get Active: Joining a professional association is a great way to network.
• Network widely and wisely: Don’t limit your networking horizons.
• Share your story: We’re all doing interesting things as information professionals.  Tell people about it!
• Embrace new situations: Networking can be intimidating.  Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.

4. What are three skills/attributes you think legal information professionals need to have?

• Act Boldly: Boldly market yourself and boldly reimagine what a library can be. 
• Embrace Change: Embrace change in the legal information field.    
• Learn Continuously:  Commit yourself to lifelong learning.  Integrate what you learn into your professional practice.    

5. What are three things on your bucket list?

• Explore Cold War history by doing a road trip through Eastern Europe
• Restore a 1970s American Motors Corporation (AMC) Gremlin
• Travel to India again (I spent the final semester of my Library Science degree on an amazing internship with a literacy organization in Bangalore)

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