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Office Hours with Raquel Gabriel

January 22, 2019

Originally from Jersey City, Raquel Gabriel is a graduate of American University, Howard University School of Law, and Rutgers. In her free time, she can be found at bookstores, scouring the internet for news on the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and spoiling her cats. Raquel is alternately amused and resigned to the fact she fills the stereotype of a “librarian,” but overall she’s rather proud to be one.

 

Tell us a little bit about how you came to be the new Director of the Law Library.

I arrived at CUNY Law School in January of 2000 as a member of the Law Library faculty and taught Legal Research. I’ve served on numerous committees throughout the law school and have also engaged with the larger community of law librarians. From 2010 – 2012 I inaugurated and authored a series of columns for the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) journal called “Diversity Dialogues,” which addressed issues of diversity within the profession. In 2018, I was recognized as a “Leader of Today,” with a profile in the second edition of Celebrating Diversity: A Legacy of Minority Leadership in the American Association of Law Libraries. And then in July of 2018, I was appointed the Director of the Law Library.

What’s new and exciting in the library this year?

The Library Staff and I just completed a retreat to help us reassess where we are and what we do and how we as librarians can best evolve our work to support students, faculty, and staff at the law school. It was a fantastic experience; I loved hearing all of the ideas people had and it reaffirmed that we’ve got an awesome library staff of which I’m proud to be a member. We’re going to be hammering out details for some of those ideas this semester, so stay tuned!

 

It’s a new year, new semester… if you could gift everyone a library or reading resolution, what would it be?

Take time to read something – anything – even if’s just for 10 minutes, that has no connection with work or school every day. Choose a topic or subject you enjoy. I’m of the firm belief reading can help you de-stress as well as remind you of who you are and what your interests are outside of work and school.

 

Before teaching, did you have any other jobs or experiences that might surprise us?

My very first paid job was as a summer school teacher/counselor for a mix of second and third graders at a summer program around the corner from my high school. I was 16 and trying to keep about 30 kids entertained and educated for about 4 or 5 hours a day for 6 weeks. Looking back on it, perhaps that’s why I decided to pursue a job in the library when I got to college?

I’ve also worked in libraries pretty steadily my entire life – I worked my way through college at the university library, staffed libraries through an employment office, worked briefly at my law school library, and worked at a public library while getting my library degree. Maybe I was just avoiding the obvious by going to law school, but my love of reading and libraries is partly what channeled my interest in law.

 

What can’t you let go of? Is there anything that holds you enthralled, that you want to keep on people’s radar, or that is keeping you up at night?

I will never let go of the idea that there is something transformative about reading an actual, physical book. The process of reading a physical book demands attention in ways that are not the same as reading something electronically. Every time I read – or reread – a book that I enjoy, I feel more connected to the story that’s being told within it.

 

What is your daily reading routine like? 

I tend to rely on email blasts from papers and blogs to figure out news-related reading for the day.  Some part of my lunchtime is usually spent looking at legal blogs, the news, Facebook, or Instagram. A lot of my friends and colleagues from every corner of my life are on Facebook and Instagram, so it’s fun to connect with them and read the news stories they post and chat about them. Technically I’m on Twitter, but am rarely there.

 

What is your favorite part of your job?

 When a student comes to see me after their first internship and tells me that they were regarded as a research rock star in their workplace due to the skills they learned at CUNY Law!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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