“Being able to help law students begin to understand the legal research process is exciting,” says Brent Johnson, a Reference & State Documents Librarian on the Harrisburg campus, adding, “When a law student comes to me and says thanks for your help, my boss at the AG’s office was impressed with what I discovered, I feel that what I’m doing is making a difference.”
Brent has been a librarian at Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus since 2005. “I chose to come to Widener because of the opportunity to teach legal research to law students,” he says, citing his own legal education as a valuable resource in helping students.
“I think that my experience attending law school gives me the right amount of understanding or empathy for the law student to understand what they are going through, while at the same time being in a place to offer them some practical skills for after they graduate Widener Law,” he says.
“I’ve found the collegiality of all the librarians at Widener to be a strong feature that helps us provide excellent service to our library patrons,” says Brent of his experiences. “As we team teach legal research in Harrisburg, I feel that the combined knowledge-base of all the reference librarians is a great asset for the students at Widener Law.” Brent also worked with fellow law librarians Pat Fox and Ed Sonnenberg to write Pennsylvania Primary Resources CALI lesson. He has since authored another CALI lesson on Pennsylvania Secondary Legal Resources.
Having a background in instructional technology, Brent is interested in the use of technology to teach legal research. It is not unusual for him to play a video clip from a popular movie or use a song clip to introduce a legal research topic. While legal research may not be the most exciting topic, having law students question at the start of class how an AC/DC line is related to primary sources gets them thinking.
Prior to his career as a law librarian, Brent was a junior high school basketball coach in Beaverton, OR. During NCAA tournament time, he can likely be found glued to a television screen watching his favorite team play.