Mtre Daniel Boyer’s work over the past two decades as Wainwright Librarian at the Gelber Law Library, McGill University and beyond has been once again recently underscored: in its most recent elections this July, the International Academy of Comparative Law elected him an “Associate Member”.
Led by Daniel Boyer, the Gelber Law Library’s Comparative Law holdings have supported and grown in tandem with the development the Law Faculty’s innovative transsystemic teaching programme at McGill University. In bestowing the Advocatus Emeritus (Ad.E.) honour to Daniel Boyer in 2018, the Barreau of Québec noted “[…] à la barre de la Bibliothèque Nahum Gelber depuis 2009, il en fait un modèle parmi les bibliothèques de droit comparé du monde.” In addition to his publications and conference presentations on Comparative Law, he has advised numerous law libraries, notably in France, Sweden and Switzerland, and has lectured extensively in Vietnam with the late Professor H. Patrick Glenn. In recognition of his service with the International Association of Law Libraries (I.A.L.L.), he was elected “Honoured Member” of the association in 2019. He currently is a Full member of the Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law, and is working on comparative citations protocols.
Daniel Boyer’s interest for Comparative Law is long-standing. During his articles, he published a comparative study on the role of taxing officers in Common Law jurisdictions at the behest of the Barreau du Québec and, shortly afterwards, studied in England with the noted comparatist Professor Clive Schmitthoff. He was subsequently awarded a van Calker Fellowship by the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law.
Based in Paris, the International Academy of Comparative Law was founded at The Hague on 13 September 1924. The International Academy of Comparative Law brings together jurists from all over the globe. In addition, it undertakes the universal diffusion of publications which take into consideration all legal orders and all legal systems. The International Academy of Comparative Law is a body of legal scholars that primarily aims, according to article two of its Statutes, at “the comparative study of legal systems.” It currently has more than seven hundred members across the world.
Congratulations to Mtre Daniel Boyer, Ad. E., Wainwright Librarian and Head Librarian of the Nahum Gelber Law Library, on being elected an Honorary Member of the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL).
Founded in 1959, IALL is an international association dedicated to comparative legal librarianship. It has over 400 members in more than 50 countries on five continents. Members come from all types of law libraries, including academic, corporate, government, and court libraries. Honorary members are elected annually by the Association’s Board of Directors in recognition of “outstanding and distinguished service”.
Daniel publishes and presents regularly on comparative law, and has acted as a consultant for law libraries in Switzerland and Vietnam. He has long history of service with IALL, including serving most recently on its Board of Directors for two terms, from 2013-2016, and from 2016-2019. During this time, Daniel represented IALL at the annual meetings of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries.
The Board of IALL elected Daniel an Honorary Member at its Board Meeting held in conjunction with the IALL’s 38th Annual Course on International Law Librarianship in Sydney, Australia. However, as a result of the pandemic, Daniel only just received the good news.
After 38 years working in the McGill Library system, our colleague Anne Avery will be retiring at the end of the year. Anne came to the Gelber as a library assistant in October 2006 from the McLennan Library, and has been a pillar of our library ever since. Members of the McGill Law community will remember Anne as a friendly face at our circulation desk, always ready to help out, whether it be to check out a book on reserve or pick up a hold, navigate our catalogues, guide patrons around the library, solve a uPrint problem, or figure out how to work the microfilm reader, though of course Anne’s duties and impact on users extends far beyond circulation.
Before leaving, Anne was kind enough to sit down for a brief interview to talk about her experience working at McGill, and to share some fond memories about her time here. The following are summaries of Anne’s answers.
Career trajectory within the McGill Library system Anne was first hired as a casual library employee in October 1981, working on the 6th floor of the McLennan Library, filing acquisition records. At the time, acquisition slips were printing in multiple copies. We’re not talking duplicate or triplicate here… more like upwards of 6 copies per acquisition! This was a one-month contract, after which Anne was hired to type updated subject headings on catalogue cards following Library of Congress Subject Headings. This required a “special typewriter with very small keys” (since you couldn’t adjust font size otherwise)! This job was also out of the 6th floor of McLennan. That position was abolished in July 1982, but just over half a year later, Anne was back, this time working in acquisitions at the Medical Library. In May 1983, Anne became a permanent employee.
In September 1984, Anne moved into a public-facing position in the Library School Library, then located on the ground floor of McLennan. This was a sessional job that followed the academic calendar. Anne worked at that branch for 4 years, before taking a one-year educational leave. When she returned in September 1989, Anne moved onto the Redpath Reserves. This is when computers were first introduced on the service side of the library, and when Anne started working with them!
In September 1991, Anne headed back to the Library School Library, which she managed for 3 years. With that branch library set to close, Anne then moved to the Microfilm service, a public-facing service located on the 2nd floor of McLennan. It is there that she first worked with the Gelber’s current supervisor, Elizabeth Gibson, who supervised the Microfilm service. An extremely popular service at the time, it was open 7 days a week, and during evenings. “That department was a gem source of information and included print newspapers and current serials, of course,” notes Anne. According to Anne, this was where she met the greatest variety of people.
In October 2006, Anne finally moved to the Gelber Library. At the time, the branch was also open evenings and weekends, and was “bursting with staff,” as this was before a lot of centralization of library services. Despite the many changes to the library system that occurred since Anne’s arrival at the Gelber, Anne stayed on at the Gelber for just over 14 years.
Upon reflecting on her 7 positions in the McGill Library system, Anne remarked: “It’s great to move around and meet different people!”
In another life, another career path? Who would have known that Anne worked as a surgical nurse in a veterinary hospital immediately prior to arriving at McGill in 1981? A lover of animals, Anne’s allergies contributed in part to her career change.
Our world traveler And did you know that Anne has lived in 5 countries, and 3 cities in Canada (Vancouver, Thunder Bay, and Montreal)? In 1982, when Anne’s position was terminated, Anne and her husband benefitted from the extra time to go to France for les vendages, the grape harvest, an opportunity that her husband had heard of with l’Association Québec-France: “We were assigned to the champagne region near Reims on a family vineyard for 12 memorable days. We remained 4 months, following a theme of historical locations, living cheap, traveling by train, regional bus and ship, visiting many locations in France, zig zagging south through autumn, moving on to Florence and Venice, then Greece, and celebrating Christmas in Crete and New Year’s in Rhodes.”
While Montreal has been home for the past 31 years, Anne still calls the European cities she lived in “home” when she goes back to visit. Her favourite travel destination? “They’re all my favourite when I get there!”
Fun facts about the McGill Library, 80s edition & Anne’s career trajectory To work in the library when Anne first started, one had to first pass a typing test. Now, we won’t mention how Anne did on the test, but Anne did want to give a little shout-out to human resources for helping her overcome that little speed bump!
When Anne started working at McGill, access to the McLennan library was limited to graduate students and the employees working there, with undergraduate students studying in Redpath instead. Consequently, a guard was stationed at the bottom of the McLennan stairs to confirm IDs! There were 25 library branches at the time, compared to the 11 we currently have. While students were not permitted to smoke in the library, library staff with individual offices could smoke in them.
Checking out a book? Some of us might remember the old index cards that we used to check out books on in elementary school, but in the 80s, McGill’s system was a little more sophisticated than that! Circulation staff would instead check out books using manual sliding card machines – like the ones used for credit cards!
Prior to coming to the Gelber, Anne worked with two individuals who would later become law library directors: Michael Renshawe and Bob Clark. By the time Anne moved to the Gelber, however, they had already left. Upon arriving at the Gelber, Anne reconnected with a former student who had attended library school when Anne ran the Library School Library: the current Head of the Gelber, Daniel Boyer! A helpful tip to anyone in the library system at McGill, considering the amount of internal movement here, but also really great advice for anyone in or entering the workforce: “McGill is a community; your working life will interweave with many individuals over the years so make the most of positive contacts and create a network of supportive connections.”
Library trends over time From card catalogues to our newest catalogue that allows us to see not only our own holdings and availability of texts at McGill, but holdings in hundreds of thousands of libraries across the world, as well as availability of texts through the Quebec university library system “technology has changed things so amazingly,” says Anne. “It’s a huge difference,” Anne notes, laughing, when I ask her what surprises her the most about how library patrons use the library now versus in the 80s.
How librarians provide services has also changed. Before the explosion of databases, reference used to “all be in the librarians’ heads,” and if anything escaped them, they would consult index cards kept on reference desks. Now, a liaison librarian’s primary duty is to know how to find things in a database, and of course, know what database to use!
Funny stories involving law faculty I was hoping for a good Overheard for the Quid Novi, but Anne is all class ‘til the end! She notes that she enjoyed getting to know law staff and faculty alike. One fun thing that happened as a result of chatting with a law professor at the desk was that she was able to get some family papers translated from Swedish!
Anne also recently went through the Rare Books collection and found a number of gems there, including a book by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll. She notes that the annuals in our collection are fantastic resources for “history buffs” interested in social history, thanks to the ads that precede and follow the main text.
Fondest memories working in the libraries The chair of our social committee, Anne notes that what she’ll miss most is the camaraderie she shared with colleagues – with a special shout-out to our famous Gelber birthday parties – and socialising with patrons over the desk. Having had worked in 6 other library positions, Anne notes that it “really made a difference working in a satellite library.” Working at the Gelber, Anne had a variety of work, and also got to meet “people from all over.”
Throughout the years, Anne has been particularly impressed with the opportunities that our students have taken for study and work abroad. She pointed out in particular the students that have gone on to work with NGOs and in human rights advocacy.
Final farewell message to students “Seize opportunities for personal enrichment… and go to all the library teaching seminars! You’ll need it!”
If you would like to know what kind of treasures are kept in the glass enclosed Rare Books Room on the second floor of the Law Library, sign up for a half-an-hour (or longer) tour of the Law Rare Books. To sign up for a tour, please send a request to me, Svetlana Kochkina, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will notify you when we will have a necessary number of participants.
This is the question that we are getting sometimes from our Law students who are coming to visit us even when they are on vacation 🙂 Paradoxically, summer is the busiest time for librarians. Yes, during the summer we do not teach as much, and we do not receive as many reference inquiries as we do during the school year, but we are working on special projects, and we are going to the conferences to learn and to present results of our work or research. This summer, I began working on a special project on Wainwright collection that we house in the Law Rare Books Room. I will report my progress and the results of this project on this blog.