Flint native heads up tech services for Law Library


 By Sheila Pursglove 

Legal News
When Brooke Moynihan’s two children were young, she volunteered in their school – and especially enjoyed being the library parent. 

“This was years before I attended library school – I should have known then that I was destined for a library,” says Moynihan, now head of Technical Services for Michigan State University College of Law Schaefer Law Library.

After nearly two decades of practicing law, Moynihan was interested in making a career change, using the skills she developed as a lawyer, but in a new way. When she read a job advertisement for a law librarian, she knew it would be a perfect fit. 

“As a law librarian, I’m able to use the skills I developed as an attorney in new and different ways,” she explains. “I still get to do the things I love most about the law – research and helping people – but now I have the opportunity to apply those skills in a new setting.”

Her organizational skills have also been great asset in this role. 

“Librarians are often characterized as being ‘lifelong learners’ and I really believe that to be true in my case,” she says. “I thoroughly enjoyed going back to school to earn my master’s degree in library science. I was nervous about it when I started – it had been so long since I had taken classes. I wondered if I would be able to compete with much younger classmates who had a different skillset than I. But I did well and had a great time doing it.”

She completed a master’s degree in library and information science from Wayne State University in the winter term of 2013 then worked part-time for the Auburn Hills Campus of Cooley Law School before landing a full time position with MSU Law. 

“I had the opportunity to do an observation and then my practicum at Schaefer Law Library, and I was very impressed both times by the staff and service the library provides,” she says. “I was so fortunate to be offered the opportunity to work here after I graduated.” 

She began working for the Schaefer Law Library in July 2013. 

“My position here is unique and wonderful, as it allows me to work in both the technical and public service sides of librarianship,” she says. “These two aspects of librarianship are usually separate, so my position is somewhat groundbreaking in the library setting.”

 As Head of Technical Services, she is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the Technical Services department and resolving complex access problems. She performs the cataloging for the law library, which is important in letting both local patrons and people from all over the world know the sorts of resources the library maintains for its users. She also has the opportunity to teach first-year legal research, work at the reference desk, and assist with faculty research. 

 “I serve as a member of the senior management team for the library and assist with collection and facilities projects, as well,” she says.

The best part of her job, she notes, are the people. 

“MSU College of Law is a wonderful place to work. And, although I’m a University of Michigan alumna, I thoroughly enjoy being on the Spartan campus,” she says. “My co-workers are smart, accomplished, and are always willing to help the students, faculty members or one of our many other library patrons.” 

Although primarily for the support of students and faculty, the Schaefer Law Library is open to the public. 

“We see patrons from all types of backgrounds and walks of life, which adds variety to the type of reference assistance we give,” Moynihan says. “I love working with the students, public patrons, and helping faculty with research – they publish on some very interesting topics. I also like the fact that our law library is very user friendly and user-focused. The level of service here is top notch – and the library has had a great reputation for many years.”

Moynihan set her sights on a law career as far back as elementary school. Earning a bachelor of arts in English literature from the University of Michigan was a great foundation for her studies at Wayne State University Law School, and later when she returned to earn her MLIS, focusing on law and academic librarianship. 

“The skills I learned as an undergrad – writing, research, reading large amounts and studying, served me well in law school,” she says. “I knew I wanted to help people solve their legal problems, and I also thought it looked like a very glamorous profession. Throughout my law career I have helped clients with legal problems, but I’m not sure the process was ever very glamorous!”

Moynihan worked in a variety of legal environments including the Flint City Attorney’s Office, Joseph Auto Group, for private firms and as a solo practitioner. 
“I’ve always enjoyed learning and growing, and each position has offered me new challenges and opportunities,” she says. 

Her favorite position was probably as the Chief Assistant City Attorney for the  City of Flint. 
“I often referred to working in the City Attorney’s Office as the M.A.S.H. unit of law. We saw a large variety of cases ranging from criminal prosecutions to defending civil suits. It was great experience and I had the opportunity to work with many excellent attorneys,” she says.

With the exception of college and law school, Moynihan has lived most of her life in Flint and is a graduate of Flint Central High School. 

“Despite its battered reputation, Flint has a whole lot going for it – a wonderful cultural center, several universities including the new MSU College of Human Medicine, a rebounding downtown area, beautiful historic neighborhoods and a flourishing new location for its Farmers’ Market, to name a few highlights,” she says. 

Moynihan gives back to her community by volunteering. 

“I’ve had the opportunity to perform volunteer work at various stages of my life, and it’s something I’ve always found to be very rewarding,” she says. 

She spent many years with the Junior League of Flint, which raises money for programs that support women and children; and has volunteered with the Genesys Health Foundation, the Flint Institute of Arts, and several others. 

In her leisure time, she enjoys reading, mostly fiction and historic fiction; as well as travel, spending time at the family cottage on Lake Michigan, cooking, kayaking, and working out. Always looking for ways to squeeze in some extra physical activity, she enjoys walking at lunchtime on the MSU campus. 

“There are so many paths to enjoy on campus, along the Cedar, through the gardens, and wooded areas,” she notes. 

Moynihan’s husband, Eric Minore, is a teacher in Swartz Creek. She has two teen-age children: Katie, a freshman at the University of Michigan; Ronan, a junior at Powers Catholic High School; and a stepson Josh Minore. The family also includes two dogs and a cat. The family currently lives in Flint, but plans to relocate to the East Lansing area once Ronan has graduated from high school. 

“Although I have a bit of a commute, it’s definitely worth it for a job I really love,” she says. “Even so, we’re looking forward to becoming residents of the East Lansing area and can’t wait to house hunt.”