CS-SIS Member Spotlight: Shay Elbaum

The Computing Services Special Interest Section is made up of awesome law librarians doing interesting things.   The CS-SIS Member Spotlight is designed to shine a light on our membership so that we can learn more about each other and stay connected.

CS-SIS Member Spotlight:  Shay Elbaum

Allow me to introduce Shay Elbaum, Secretary/Treasurer of CS-SIS, and a reference librarian at Stanford Law School.  A Michigan native, Shay earned his undergraduate degree in linguistics from McGill University in Montreal. He returned to the University of Michigan to complete his JD, where he focused on federal Indian law (influenced by time spent working in the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory between undergrad and law school) and worked at the Native American Rights Fund during and after law school, followed by a clerkship with Justice Joel Bolger of the Alaska Supreme Court. During law school, however, Shay worked on the library reference desk and was fond of time spent in the law library.  Lo and behold, positive library experiences and encouragement from his law librarian mentors led Shay to pursue his MLIS from Simmons College rather than follow a path into indigenous law practice.

Shay arrived at Stanford fresh from his MLIS program, with stints as a student worker in the libraries of Brandeis University and Northeastern University School of Law. His work includes tech projects that may be of interest to CS-SIS members. While at Brandeis, he built Jurisdoctopus, a game that introduces students to the U.S. legal system with help from an octopus-shaped alien from the planet Gravlax.  (He built the game using Twine, a Cool Tools Café product featured by Becka Rich at the AALL meeting in 2018. Jurisdoctopus is a cool application of a cool tool!)  He is also working with a colleague on an interactive visualization of legal sources and their connections, using Cytoscape.js to illustrate nodes (e.g., the U.S.C. and C.F.R.) and their links (e.g., the Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules).  Check out a proof-of-concept version at http://shelbaum.com/network/.  Shay’s also been involved in building a database to complement a faculty member’s research on a particular procedural tool in huge multi-district cases.  More recently, he has been helping explore digital hosting options for his school’s law journals.

When Shay isn’t serving as one of the Stanford Law Library’s go-tos for tech, he is answering reference questions, working with faculty, providing training, or co-teaching an advanced legal research course.  He loves the diversity of tasks librarianship offers.  What he values most about being a law librarian, however, is having the ability to learn about nearly anything and share that power with others. Put another way, he likes being able to “tangibly help people” with the “ability to comprehend and translate weird and complicated systems.”

As a dabbler in tech, Shay found CS-SIS to be a good community in which to cultivate his interests.  He graciously agreed to serve on our blog committee after being recruited from CONELL and contributed a great article, Data Services in the Law Library, on supporting empirical research.  He appreciates holding a leadership position within the section and hopes CS-SIS can amp up educational opportunities outside of our AALL meeting.  He’s particularly interested in comparing the use of technology across different types of libraries.  He hopes these kinds of educational programs can help build our CS-SIS community.

To close on a more personal note, Shay finds joy in his 20-minute bike commute and the great biking infrastructure and weather in his neighborhood.  He considers himself an “obligatory reader” as a librarian and has recently enjoyed the Paper Girls series by Brian K. Vaughan.  Though he prefers Kindle for travel, Shay still considers the print book a great technology.   Three cheers for Shay and his membership in CS-SIS and for all technology, print or otherwise.

Thanks to Shay for his willingness to be interviewed for this CS-SIS member spotlight.   If you are interested in interviewing and writing a blog post about a CS-SIS member, please contact Tawnya Plumb at tplumb@uwyo.edu.  It is a great opportunity to learn about a fellow member.