Research guru: MSU Law librarian enjoys helping patrons

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

As a reference librarian at Michigan State University College of Law, Brent Domann enjoys serving public patrons most. 

“This is especially true for those who might not have the means to otherwise do what they need to do in the legal system,” he says. “I also love teaching and I love the hunt in finding obscure documents when doing research.”

An adjunct professor, Domann teaches research to first-year MSU Law students and occasionally foreign-trained lawyers; and teaches legal history, the legal system, and research to students in graduate programs.

He enjoys being back in Spartan-land, where once he was a law student.

“The faculty and other librarians have been very welcoming and I’ve always been treated as an equal,” he says. “Though my expectations might have led me to worry about feeling awkward, the reality has been much better.”

Domann earned his undergrad degree in philosophy at Bowling Green State University in Ohio – drawn to this major by its focus on thinking clearly and communicating efficiently. 

He then earned his J.D., magna cum laude, from MSU College of Law, where he was awarded a Dean Charles H. King Scholarship. Domann is the only member of his family to take up a legal career.

“Law seemed like a great opportunity to take what I loved most in philosophy and make it a part of my daily life and work,” he says.

During law school, he worked as a teaching assistant, and did externships at the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation and at the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

He then practiced for a short time at the Law Office of Michael Van Buskirk in Philadelphia, a firm specializing in estate planning and real estate. 

“Law schools focus a lot on legal theory, but not as much the business side of day-to-day practice,” he says. “Although it can be scary to be responsible for what you bring in, there’s a great deal of satisfaction I think in managing a business the way you see fit.”

In 2010, he headed to Wayne State University to earn a Master of Library & Information Science (MLIS) — an interest sparked in law school when he worked as a Public Services Assistant in the library, assisting patrons in basic and advanced legal research, helping to maintain the law collection, and covering shifts at the Reference Desk.

“Everything about it seemed to fit me well — the mission, the environment, and the work/life balance,” he explains. “I decided early on that librarianship would be a great path to follow and getting the MLIS was just a step in that direction.”

A native of New Hampshire, Domann moved around quite a bit in childhood due to his father’s career as an engineer and administrator in the VA hospital system, and spent his high school years in Michigan. He enjoys life in Lansing and East Lansing.

“I love what MSU has to offer everyone — there’s always something to do: sporting events, live theater, science programs, even just finding the perfect spot for lunch on campus can be fun,” he says. “Lansing I think sometimes sits in the shadow of the university, but that means there’s a lot to explore and locals don’t always have to share the best spots!” 

Away from his career among the library stacks, Domann plays music as a serious hobby.

“Mostly I play in rock bands, but I also record soundtracks for documentaries,” he says. “I play several instruments and do a lot of audio engineering as well.”

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