Staff Profile: Ariel Scotese


Who she is: Ariel Scotese, access services and outreach librarian at the Law Library.

What she does: As the Access Services librarian, I answer questions about policy, cover the circulation desk, manage the daily operations of the department and supervise the front-line staff. I get to be the go-to person for students who have certain access needs, such as students who need to be able to check out a laptop for an extended time because their old laptop died and it’s finals. I’m also a faculty liaison.

I teach the first-year legal research and writing class, help with research questions and manage our social media presence and newsletter. I also organize the pet therapy day we do every semester. There’s nothing quite like seeing and petting a llama!

Why it’s important: Access Services is the primary point of contact for everybody. Everyone’s gone to the circulation desk at least once. We really are the face of the Law Library for our students, faculty and staff.

It’s very important but also very easy to overlook because you don’t think about who’s shelving the books, how new books get on the shelves, how we come up with the course reserve policy. Doing these things well can make your library experience wonderful, and that’s what we always aim to do.

Where she’s from: Evanston, Illinois.

Education: I graduated from the University of Chicago in 2009 with a BA in Economics. I have a law degree and an LLM in Tax from IIT - Chicago Kent College of Law. Then I received my Library Science degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Background: I started my legal career representing a short line railroad. I also did some criminal defense work, specifically in drug possession.

I liked the challenge and research parts of practicing law, but the actual practice of law was not for me—I’m a much more collaborative person. So I started volunteering at my local library to do something different, and I just found that I really loved it. I loved the environment, I loved working with people. I love connecting people with resources without having that same pressure that comes with practicing law.

I worked as a reference associate at Northwestern Library, and later at University of Chicago Law Library as the 2017 Judith M. Wright fellow. There I learned more about outreach. Specifically, I was tasked with learning how to bring law school clinic students into the law library and teaching these students how to find and evaluate information in more practical contexts. This idea of teaching legal information literacy skills in a practical context is something I’m really passionate about.

How long at Cornell: About six months.

Best part of her job: I really love teaching, and I honestly did not know that before I started doing it. I also really love working with my department: solving problems, trying to think about new ways to do things. It’s great to work with such a well-trained, exceptional and knowledgeable department. It makes the job really fun.

What she’s most proud of: Coming here and taking this chance. Making the career transition to librarianship was very hard. It took a lot of soul searching. I originally came to Cornell for a two-year diversity fellowship and there was no guarantee what would happen next. Being willing to both work here for the two year period and later take on the permanent position and responsibilities that came with it—I’m really proud of myself for that.

In her spare time: I’m a very crafty person, I like working with my hands. I sew, knit, embroider and draw. I also love watching trashy TV, because who doesn’t, right? I love The Amazing Race. One day I want to run it, but we’ll see. My husband I like to try all the different restaurants and just explore. We’ve walked up and down Cascadilla Gorge a lot, and we want to explore some of the other natural spaces here as well, such as Buttermilk Falls.