November 8, 2005
Spotlight on Law Librarians: Don Blair
University of Cincinnati Law Library
Thomas More College, 1966
Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Northern Kentucky Univ., 1975
At the University of Cincinnati Law Library, we like to joke that Don Blair is the oldest tenure track law librarian in the country. But it is no joke that when Don is at the reference desk he is as energetic as anyone one-third his age.
Don was awarded the College of Law's employee of the year award in 2001 and just last month he was awarded the President's Quality Service award, a first for the College of Law, and a "second" for university faculty librarians. The only other librarian to be so honored was the Dean and Director of University Libraries.
The following captures Don in his "Don-ness." It is the university's profile of Don based on the letters of recommendation he received for the 2005 President's Quality Service award.
2005 Presidents QSA Winner: Don Blair
The kind of service provided by Don Blair in the Marx Law Library of the UC College of Law can be accurately determined by the number of times per day the question is asked, "Where's Don?"
By: Carey Hoffman
Photo By: Dottie Stover
The most frequent question asked around UC's Marx Law Library?
The focus of the question is Don Blair, and the frequency with which it is asked is an indicator of the ubiquitous nature of his commitment to the students and faculty in the UC College of Law community.
"Don's commitment to public service is unconditional... ," praises Joe Hodnicki, associate director of the Marx Law Library. "Don is always available to help a student, faculty member, member of the bench or bar or member of the public at large even when he is not scheduled to work the reference desk. This commitment to service is so consistently displayed that we joke about it: "Where's Don?" is the most frequently asked question in the Law Library!"
Countless UC law students have come to recognize Blair as one of their greatest allies in pursuit of their legal education. For instance, a annual dinner at Skyline Chili with Blair is among the most hotly-sought items available at the college's auction in support of its Hooding Ceremony.
Kristin Woeste, a 2005 graduate and editor of the UC Law Review, has been among a group of four who have made sure they came away with the winning bid in the auction the last three years. Famous for his sound advice and advocacy for students, she marvels about Blair that "at a time when I barely knew the faces of many faculty, administrators and staff, the four of us were paying big bucks just to eat chili with him!"
Volunteer Professor of Law James O'Reilly considers Blair to be the epitome of "the self-sacrificing pursuit of excellent service to our students."
"The central core of Don's service is the student -- the nervous, shy and overwhelmed novice whom the law, as a discipline, tends to intimidate... ," says O'Reilly. "(Blair) has literally sat on the floor surrounded by new students helping them to understand how it all comes together, building their research skills while he makes them want to be professionals, counseling clients and listening well to others' needs. Don Blair's leadership and his humility combine to give the rare, special gift of true student-centered service."
Just as noteworthy has been the depths of his commitment to the faculty.
Marx Law Library Director Virginia Thomas calls Blair "one of the most service-oriented law librarians I have had the pleasure to work with in my 27 years in this profession."
Professor of Law Ronna Greff Schneider has relied on Blair for a number of years as her principal library liaison, and finds him gifted in locating all sorts of rare and unusual sources in her research pursuits.
"Not only did Mr. Blair always manage to locate these materials, no matter how obscure or difficult to find, he was always willing to find them for me regardless of whether he was actually schedule to be at work when I needed such materials or not... I have not seen any person work harder, without ever saying 'No' to any request made of him," Schneider says.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Law Marjorie Aaron relates similar experiences in requesting research help from Blair. "No matter what, Don is on the trail for the information and right resources for me," she says. "Too often, I learn later that my voice mail was left when he was not scheduled to be in, but he has come in over the weekend to make sure I have what was requested by Monday morning. I would never have asked for that level of service, but he provides it without the special request."
Adds Woeste, the UC law grad: "He is an insightful resource into the local law community and has invaluable experience to share with how to make it in the legal world. He has contacts at other libraries that he is happy to call upon when something is missing from our own collection... In short, Don Blair embodies the idea of community in the UC College of Law, combining an amiable personality that has endeared him with students with an expert knowledge of the law and the library. Each department at the university would be lucky to have such a dedicated person among their ranks."
- Joe Hodnicki, pinch-hitting for Lee Peoples who has been a wee bit busy preparing for an ABA/AALL visit.
The Spotlight on Law Librarians feature is edited by Lee Peoples, Law Librarian Blog Contributing Editor and Associate Director for Faculty, Research and Instructional Services, Oklahoma City University Law Library. Please feel free to recommend a colleague for this feature to Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org
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