Staff Profile: Malikah Hall

11/09/15

Pointing students in the right direction.

 

Who she is: Malikah Hall, diversity fellow, research services librarian and lecturer-in-law at the Cornell Law Library.

What she does: I’m a reference librarian, and I’m a faculty liaison for several professors within the law school. I also teach a legal-research portion of the lawyering class for first-year law students.

Traditionally we staff the reference desk answering research questions, mostly from students and faculty. As a liaison, I assist faculty members with their research, use of the library, or with clinics they’re teaching or articles they’re writing. In my class, the students have their first research log for their open memo coming up, so we’re going to work through any trouble spots they faced and point them in the right direction. We don’t tell them the answer, we tell them how to find it.

Why it’s important: I remember being a law student and I’m not sure that I would have made it through law school if I didn’t have some classes like these, which help you navigate the waters. A lot of these databases are very large and confusing, and librarians point you in the proper direction. As for faculty, they have so much to do on a daily basis that it’s nice to have someone with the expertise to support their research.

Where she comes from: I’m originally from Chicago. I went to law and library school in North Carolina, and now I am an Upstate New Yorker.

Education: I have a Bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in marketing from Chicago State University. Then I went to North Carolina Central University, the only historic black college with a JD/MLS program.

Background: After I graduated from college I applied for a job in a law firm and spent seven years there, basically doing legal research, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I decided to go to law school in my 30s, and now I’m here.

Lawyers are fantastic, they serve a purpose, they’re out there to help people, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I love the law, I love the legal process, but I’m not a litigator. I still wanted to stay within the legal environment, but I didn’t want to go the traditional route. Lawyers help their clients, but librarians get to help everybody.

How long at Cornell: Around three months.

Most memorable moment on the job: I have a student who is in the U.S. Army Reserves. He couldn’t make one of the classes but said he would try his best, so I sent him the assignment and my PowerPoint. He got every single answer right. So I was very proud that I put something together that could help him learn the material so successfully.

Best part of the job: I got the teaching bug pretty early on. Even when I was a researcher, I did training for new attorneys and staff within the firm. The ability to give instruction is part of why I became a law librarian. As librarians, we wear the hat of a teacher, a researcher, a helper – so many different things.

In her spare time: I have a baby puppy. He’s 10 months old, so I hang out with him, take him to the dog park. I’m also getting to know Ithaca.