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New law library director joins Moritz faculty

August 19, 2014 | Faculty

The library at the Moritz College of Law is the largest law library in the state of Ohio and houses one of the largest law school library collections in the United States, making it an invaluable resource for students, professors, researchers, attorneys, judges, officials, and citizens of Ohio. This summer, one of Ohio State’s own – Sara Sampson ’97 – has taken the helm. In her new position, she will serve as assistant dean for information services, director of the law library, and a senior lecturer at Moritz.

The Moritz Law Library is a very familiar place for Sampson. She earned her undergraduate degree – a B.S. in psychology – from The Ohio State University in 1993, and, later, her J.D. from Moritz in 1997.

After graduating from law school, Sampson clerked for the Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals for nearly six years.

Ultimately, she decided that practicing law wasn’t for her. “I really love the law, love to teach, and love research. I answered a job ad for a weekend reference librarian at Capital University Law School, did that for a year, and realized it was a perfect fit for me,” Sampson explained. She enrolled in a library science graduate program through Kent State University and then worked as a reference librarian at the Moritz Law Library for three years, before moving on to work as the head of reference at the Georgetown University Law Center (2006-2011), and then deputy director of the law library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

When she accepted her position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she told her supervisors that she had no intention of leaving – unless her alma mater, Ohio State, were to ever come calling.  When Bruce Johnson retired from his position as the law library director in December, after almost 20 years of leadership, she knew she had to apply for the job.

At Moritz, Sampson will also teach Legal Analysis and Writing (LAW) I, and will work on legal research projects. She’s particularly interested in studying the ways technological advances are changing law school and legal practice. She has co-authored books, papers and journal articles on legal research, including Ohio Legal Research, a book that offers a concise introduction to researching Ohio law; a chapter in Law Librarianship in the Twenty-First Century, a text for library and information science courses on law librarianship; and an AALL Spectrum paper entitled “The Promise and Perils of Massive Open Online Courses: MOOCs and the Role of Law Librarians.”

“OSU has a great law library and information services. I hope to keep that standard as we move into a new world,” Sampson said, adding that she is excited about the work to upgrade the technology used in Moritz’s classrooms.

Currently, she is leading a group of law librarians from around the country who are writing a skills-based advanced legal research text book. “Research is a very important skill for attorneys to have. Throughout my time teaching at Georgetown and University of North Carolina, I realized that a method that focuses on skills and places research within the writing process works best and is more engaging for the students.”

When Sampson moved from North Carolina back to her home state of Ohio to assume her new post, she knew that she might need to expand the library’s collection – at least in her own office – to accommodate the tastes of one very particular preschooler.

“One of the reasons I am really excited about moving back to Ohio is I have six nieces and nephews close by, and I enjoy spending time and playing with them,” she said. “One of my nieces, who is four, was very sad to hear that our library doesn’t have any princess books,” she added with a laugh. “I will have to have a stash of princess books in my office so that when she comes to visit she won’t be disappointed by our library.”