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Oludayo John Bambose

Bitner Fellow
2017
Oludayo John Bamgbose is a Librarian at the Law Library at Ajayi Crowther University in Oyo, Nigeria. He joined us here at the Cornell Law Library in October of 2017. His report of his Fellowship experiences is below: Introduction In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, access to staff development funds is a big hurdle law librarians have to grapple with, particularly those from private institutions, who are excluded from accessing public funds which their counterparts from public-owned institutions enjoy. As a result, the Bitner Research Fellowship dedicated to law librarians outside the United States is a big window which affords individuals like me the opportunity to be hosted at an Ivy League. While applying for the fellowship, besides the uncertainty of whether I would be selected or not, my desire was to just to understudy the legal information management architecture at Cornell and possibly have a visit to a prison library for the purpose of enriching my research. I had no idea that I was going to be in for a global experience. Besides having the rare privilege to be tutored by some of the finest law librarians in the United States, incidentally headed by my mentor and President, American Association of Law Libraries(AALL), Professor Femi Cadmus, the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL). Like the hurricane fire in the Harmattan, my Bitner Research Fellowship was indeed a global experience which though began in an Ivy League. The Fellowship Proper I left Nigeria on October 1, 2017, and arrived Ithaca on the 2nd of October, 2017. Amy Emerson, Director, Legal Research Clinic and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Law’s wide embrace at the Ithaca Airport was just the tip of the iceberg of the hospitality to be received from the Cornell Law Library family. From the reception, to the lunch and other social outings, to the highly academic and intellectually stimulating engagements, it was a holistic experience one can only ask for again and again. I was introduced to the 21st century method of managing legal resources with a focus on the United States’ legal system. I equally attended the LLM classes taught by library faculty. Two of such classes have remained indelible in my mind: The Social Media Class by Professor Cadmus was an eye-opener on new areas of law I can develop in Nigeria. Also, the class of Nina Scholtz (Associate Director for Research & Instruction, Lecturer in Law) and Dan Blackaby (Head of Technology Initiatives, Lecturer in Law) on Introduction to Legal Research was also revealing to me. One of the things that I took away from the classes was that learning should be student-centered. As a result, students are given a high sense of responsibility for coming fully prepared for the class. I plan to adopt this technique as my teaching methodology. I attended lectures and symposia organized within and outside the faculty. I found the symposium on sex-selection very interesting. The series of lectures by the Institute for African Development were also very engaging. An applicant for the position of Cornell Law Library Diversity Fellow was interviewed during the fellowship. I had the privilege of participating in the interview. I found very interesting the routines in the library and how technology has come to aid some of the services which we still do manually in Africa. Special visits and interviews were arranged by the library management so as to gather the needed data for my research on the role of prison libraries in the administration of the justice. Despite the initial uncertainty surrounding access to prison libraries, the Cornell Law Library succeeded in securing approval for me to visit a prison library. I also joined Nina Scholtz to attend book sales by the Friends of the Library, which would be the biggest sales I have seen, with proceeds usually in the region of $500,000. I volunteered to assist during the sales. I was introduced to a variety of legal resources housed by Cornell Law Library. Of particular interest were court processes which were provided for students. I was further fascinated by the workability of consortia/ networks which the library belongs to. I participated at the law library management and the general staff meetings. I was taken around to other libraries at Cornell. Worthy of mention are the rare collections, which are regarded as the most secure location at Cornell. While there, I saw a Nobel Prize medal, the first telex machine to be produced, the first original complete works of Shakespeare and collections from different nations, including the collections of Fela Kuti, Nigeria’s legendary musician. Conference Participation John with other participants during visit to Carter CenterCornell Law Library graciously supported my participation in the 36th Annual Course on International Law and Legal Information of the IALL from 22nd to 26th of October, 2017 with the theme: Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Other Critical Issues in U. S. Law held at the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which is equally acclaimed internationally as a major Center for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The conference, which would be my first IALL meeting, provided me with an opportunity to learn,unlearn and relearn. As expected, I was the only participant from West Africa attending the conference that year. I also volunteered to capture the pre-conference workshop for FCIL SpecialInterest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries with the theme: Well, Isn’t That Special? A How-To Workshop on Creating and Using Archives and Special Collections in a Legal Research Context. I had the opportunity to engage with the participants, for one of whom we have recently submitted an application that would facilitate access to knowledge in Nigeria through the instrumentality of FOI Law. The conference provided the opportunity to visit both the Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Carter Center. The Center for Civil and Human Rights, located in downtown Atlanta, connects Atlanta’s past as the origin of the Civil Rights Movement with today’s fight for global human rights. The Center hosts special exhibits and events and works to empower visitors to engage with the past, present, and future of civil and human rights. Benefits of the Fellowship Institutional My law library has just commenced creating an institutional repository for the faculty. The network made during the fellowship has assisted in establishing direct contact with companies producing legal databases thereby preventing exorbitant prices charged by vendors. The patrons now have open access to materials. Personal Capacity building. Networking and partnerships. Data gathering for my research. After Fellowship Plan Engage in the training of law librarians in Nigerians. I plan to pass down my training during the annual conference of Nigerian Law Librarians to be held in October, 2018, with the topic ‘What Law Librarians Do Differently in the United States. ’ Publish two articles in leading journals: One on my research while at Cornell and the other on my experience in general. Collaborate with partners on developing a Nigerian LII. Establish a web presence and citation for the faculty members of my institution. Champion the establishment of consortia for processing of legal information materials amongst private Universities in Southwest Nigeria. Conclusion During one of the moments on piano at Emory Conference Center, AtlantaOne of the things I enjoyed during my fellowship was access to a grand piano. It was a source of inspiration. Fortunately, I had one at my apartment (at the Tower in Myron Taylor Hall) and another at Emory Conference Center, Atlanta, where I spent my last week in the United States. Meanwhile, I was oblivious of how much I had been integrated into the Cornell Law Library family until I received my departure hug from Amy. The four weeks were indeed moments of education, interaction, and motivation. Appreciation My appreciation goes to the Bitner family who provided the financial resources that enabled my participation at the fellowship. I am grateful to the leadership of Cornell Law Library headed by Professor Femi Cadmus. My supervisor, Amy Emerson, worked tirelessly to make mystay a memorable one. The Management of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Nigeria for granting the approval to participate at the fellowship at such a crucial time in the life of the University, and finally, my beloved family for allowing me to be away from home