SLIS Grad Patricia Cervenka Helps Design Library of the Future

SLIS Grad Patricia Cervenka Helps Design Library of the Future

When she went back to school in the middle of her life, Patricia Cervenka never thought she would have the chance to help build a library of the future.

Cervenka is now Professor of Law and Director of the Law Library at Marquette University, where she has been part of the team that designed the new law library. After five years of planning and construction, the new library officially opened its doors in August 2010.

The new library is unique in that it is completely integrated into the law building: it does not have turnstiles, doors, or walls that internally separate it from the rest of the compound. This enables students and faculty to use library resources in all areas of the building, not just a designated library area.

"We had the chance to build the library of the future—we built it without walls," Cervenka said.

Self-checkout terminals are located on the second, third, and fourth floors of the building. The main circulation desk is found on the first floor along with the reference desk, reference collection, and public-access computers.

This open floor plan represents the changes that have occurred in scholarly research.research-based field.

"Connections in the old days, which I call the 80s, were made face-to-face at conferences. Then came internet and email. Now you don't need as many personal contacts to get information about law across state borders."

The library helps connect its patrons to law information, whether that information is located in the physical building or on the internet. "My two favorite items in the borderless library are the ease and access to the sources, as well as our awesome librarians," said one faculty member.

The new library is the subject of an article co-authored by Cervenka, "A Library Without Borders," published in AALL Spectrum in May 2011.

Before becoming a librarian, Cervenka worked as a high school French and Latin teacher. She went back to school to get her law degree at the University of Idaho, and her third year there found herself working at the law library. It was there that she found her passion for librarianship and moved back to her home state of Iowa to get her MLS. At the University of Iowa she worked her way through school with a library job from 6 pm to midnight at the Law Library where she made life-long friends.

Since she earned her degree from SLIS, Cervenka has worked for seven different law schools across the country, including Mercer University in Georgia, and St. Louis University in Missouri before moving to Marquette University in Wisconsin.

"Each school has its own challenges," she said, "but libraries everywhere are about services: what can we do in the mission of the school."

In addition to teaching a continuing education class on new technology for practicing attorneys, Cervenka serves on the University Academic Senate and works on an online institutional repository for scholarly publications. She also co-authored Wisconsin Legal Research with Associate Law Librarian Leslie Behroozi. They are currently working on a second edition.

When asked about her experience at SLIS, Cervenka said, "I am eternally indebted to SLIS—they were my launch pad. It was everything I hoped for and more. My MLS was the key ingredient to my success. It's been a wonderful life!"