CS-SIS Member Spotlight: Amanda Watson
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 members so that we can learn more about each other and stay connected.
CS-SIS Member Spotlight: Amanda Watson
Allow me to introduce Amanda Watson, incoming chair of CS-SIS. Amanda’s path to law librarianship began at Mississippi University for Women where she earned her B.A. She then attended the University of Mississippi School of Law and accepted a clerkship at the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Following her clerkship, she joined a small firm specializing in family law but wanted to shift her focus to helping people without being limited by their ability to pay. She recalled her student work at her law school library, and teaching legal research to 1Ls and pondered “isn’t that a career?” That was that, as law librarianship allowed her to dig into her commitment to serving the public interest.
With law librarianship experience in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, Amanda jokes she is well-versed in 5th circuit jurisdictions. As Manager of Information Services at the Jackson office of Phelps Dunbar, LLP, she had the support of her firm while she earned her Master of Library Science degree from Florida State University. She was then appointed the State Librarian of Mississippi. With a solid understanding of law firm and government law libraries, she entered academic law librarianship. She worked for seven years at the Tulane University School of Law Library, ultimately as Associate Director, and then transitioned into Director of the O’Quinn Law Library at the University of Houston. Amanda has positive takeaways from all of these library positions and notes her appreciation of her staff, bosses, and mentors along the way.
Amanda is excited to be the incoming chair of CS-SIS as our membership considers its future and a potential rebrand. She learned early on in her career that an important aspect of librarianship was the ability to bridge the gap between lawyers and technology and explaining technology to lawyers. Her membership in the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) helps keep her up-to-date on industry trends. She understands information architecture and the systems that need to be built and is interested in creating and improving technology. Currently, she is excited by the concept of a tool that will search across secondary sources. While a treatise discovery layer may be years in the making, Amanda knows that such a product will have a positive impact on her students, and legal research beyond the academy. She has seen librarians work with vendors to improve products and make them the best version of what they can be. She brings to the CS-SIS executive board a talent for speaking the language of tech and her innovative ideas.
Having immediately understood the valuable role technology would play in this Covid-19 pandemic, Amanda proved again that librarians and libraries are habitually useful. In the early weeks of implementing online teaching, she and her library team created reference materials and guides, provided hundreds of individual trainings, and are making a huge difference in the lives of students and faculty as they adapt to a remote learning environment. Amanda had previously navigated the waters of hurricanes Katrina and Harvey and knows that being a good listener, having patience, and embracing creativity are qualities that will help her library get through this pandemic. In the meantime, she’s embracing working from home and is preparing to teach Texas legal research online this summer and is looking into teaching her advanced legal research course online in the fall.
Amanda loves her family and values the time she gets to spend with her wife and two sons. She enjoys watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on VH1 and in non-pandemic times visits art museums and attends theater, ballet, and opera performances. She sings recreationally and her eldest son, also a singer, is a member of the Houston Boy Choir.
Thanks to Amanda for her willingness to be interviewed for this CS-SIS member spotlight.