Meet Gerard Fowke

This is the long-overdue continuation of an “in-depth” interview series with new librarians at Georgia State University College of Law Library, See earlier installments here, here, here, and here. 

We introduce our new librarians in the same way we introduced their colleagues at Georgia State Law Library– with a questionnaire invented by Austin Williams which is borrowed in spirit, if not in part, from Marcel Proust.

Austin (if he were still here): What is your name and what do you do?Gerard

Gerard: Gerard Fowke, I teach legal research, answer reference questions, and manage the library’s digital collections and services, all while drinking copious amounts of coffee and expresso.

A: How long have you been at Georgia State University College of Law Library? 

G: Approximately 2 months. I’m definitely a veteran of the institution ūüėČ

A: What books are currently on your nightstand (or Kindle)?

G: The Dream Songs by John Berryman & The Library Book by Susan Orlean.

A: What is an interesting fact about yourself that you would like to share with our readers?

G: Way before I was a librarian, I was once a singer in a rock n’ roll band.

A: When you are not saving the world here at GSU Law Library, what do you enjoy doing outside of work?

G: I’m a big fan of museums and arts festivals. I also love trying new restaurants.

A: Lastly, what is your favorite vacation spot? The place you go to leave it all behind for a few days.

G: Now that I no longer reside there, I think Boulder, Colorado would be a great spot. The beauty of the place definitely has a relaxing quality I miss in the hustle and bustle of the ATL. 

There you have it folks. The complete, unedited,  behind the scenes interview with Gerard Fowke.

Revisiting the Charging Lockers (or visiting them for the first time)

Got something to say about the charging lockers? We want to hear it.

The College of Law deployed six charging lockers throughout the building to better support students’ use of mobile devices. See an earlier Blackacre Times post announcing the charging lockers arrival¬†. These student resources have been in place now for a little over six months and it seems as good a time as ever to reflect on their usefulness and your experiences/satisfaction (or lack thereof) with them. To do so a very, very quick survey has been created. We humbly ask you to take two minutes to complete it. The survey link is below.

The endgame here is to learn if you are using them and if not how can we make them more useful, reliable, secure, convenient etc.; consequently, we want to hear from you even if you are not using the charging stations. It would be helpful to know why.

The College of Law charging lockers currently offer Apple Lightning, Apple 30-Pin, Micro USB, USB Type-C connections. They are located:

  • 1st floor, near skills suite
  • 2nd floor, classroom hallway
  • 3rd floor, classroom hallway
  • 5th floor, near printers/cafe
  • 6th floor, near elevators
  • 6th floor, near Law Review (this one was “recalled” for testing but will be redeployed soon)

And they look something like this just in case you never noticed them before:


120 Days?

passwordAs some students have come to realize their time is up, or more so their CampusID password’s time is up.

Georgia State requires its users (faculty included) to change their CampusID password every 120 days. The application of this time limit is unfortunate to say the least. It means that students that changed or created their account passwords in mid-August ‚Äďsay at the beginning of the fall semester‚ÄĒwill find their CampusID password expiring in the middle of December. Off the top of my head I cannot think of anything going on in December that might cause a problem. Oh, I almost forgot students are taking finals in December. Silly me.

Please avoid the headache and panic of learning your CampusID password has expired at an inopportune time. Take a moment and change your password now or when you are procrastinating studying for that next exam. Directions on how to change your CampusID password can be found here.

Your new passwords must:

  • Be between 10-32 characters in length
  • Start with a letter
  • Not be one of your previous passwords
  • Contain at least one lower case letter, upper case letter, and a number
  • Not contain one of the following characters: @ / () ‚Äú * ‚Äė

It makes it awfully difficult. For help on creating a strong password take a look at these sites:


Finally do not forget to update your CampusID and password on your various devices, e.g. laptop, mobile phone, tablet, etc. Some directions on updating devices can be found here.

CampusID accounts allow students to sign in to the majority of the online systems at Georgia State University including Campus Email, PAWS, Brightspace, and InsideLaw.

Libraries and Secret Doors

There is a time-honored mystery cliché that if you pull on the correct book on a library shelf then a secret passage will present itself. As someone who works in a library I have always been fascinated by this idea. But unfortunately (having handled almost every book in this library at some point in time) I am sorry to report that there are no secret passages or secret rooms to be found in the Georgia State University Law Library- save for the door to nowhere located in Law Review. I am also sorry to share that despite my repeated suggestions to the architects, new building committee, and anyone else who will listen there will not be a secret passage in the new Law Library.

I am not giving up.

With an eye to persuade everyone that we could use a little mystery in the new law school building and particularly in the law library, I share the following lists of hidden doors, passages, and rooms:

Bookriot’s 10 Kick-ass Secret Passage Bookshelves

Huffington Post’s 10 Secret Rooms and Hidden Passageways

Buzzfeed’s 31 Beautiful Hidden Rooms And Secret Passages

Houzz’s list of secret rooms

And if all else fails, we can always build our own with a little help from B. Light Design

Library Policies- not all that bad, online purveyors in bizarre, quirky, and nerdy trivia, recently published an interesting library-themed blog list – 9 Very Specific Rules From Real Libraries.

Looking beyond the unimaginative stock photo of a bun-sporting, cardigan-draped, ¬†grandma frames-spectacled, corrective shoes-hobbled, ¬†and eternally shush-ing librarian stereotype that alerts the reader, ‚Äúthis post is about libraries and the author is too lazy to move beyond an outdated and trite sitcom convention‚ÄĚ

‚Äďcome on mental_floss, you are better than that

the post makes a good, albeit unintended,  point.

Libraries and particularly smaller, specialized libraries like ours often create policies that at first glance may seem silly or annoying, but are necessary to ensure welcoming and comfortable space as well as reliable resources for group and individual study and research.

I am linking below to a list of policies governing patrons use of the Law Library.  Each of these polices was created with the best of intentions to better support you and your fellow researchers.  As always we welcome your questions and ideas on how better to do so -including sunsetting outdated or irrelevant policies (or heaven forbid, the creation of new ones).

Law Library Policies:

Hotmail Banned by CALI

Students that have registered with CALI using a hotmail account will need to take additional steps to continue to access CALI exercises and other services. Additional information about this change as well directions for hotmail users can be found here.

CALI is best known for their library of  interactive, computer-based lessons covering 33 legal education subject areas. These interactive tutorials are written by law faculty to supplement traditional law school instruction. In addition to the lessons library, CALI also offers ebooks, the classcaster podcasting and blogging platform, and the CALI Excellence for the Future Awards that recognizes students that receive the highest score in a law school class.

Offbeat Law Library Collections

Cameo Word Up LP coverThis year’s CALI Conference for Law School Computing was hosted at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in their beautiful new downtown facility located in the shadow of San Diego’s Gaslamp quarter.  The building still had that new, technology-rich, Leeds-certified smell about it. Everything in the facility was brand spanking new…save a pair of 300-thousand year old wooly mammoth tusks that were on display in the law library. The school had unwittingly unearthed the fossils when excavating for the new building and they did what everyone does when they do not know what to do with something:  give it to the law library.

This got me thinking of what other unusual items have by chance or device found themselves part of a law library or its collection. Below is the fruit of my first search. I am sure there is more to be unearthed.

  • I am equally perplexed by and envious of Cornell Law Library‚Äôs squash court.¬† Yes, that is right. There is a squash court in the Cornell Law Library.¬† Struggling with Georgia legislative history (or the lack thereof)? Well blow off some steam and play a quick game of squash.¬† After hitting a few trickle boasts, you will be ready to face that legislative history research again.
  • My personal favorite, being a child of the 80‚Äôs, is the platinum album of Cameo‚Äôs Word Up that is on display at University of Tennessee Joel A. Katz Law Library. The Library‚Äôs namesake is a successful entertainment lawyer that has represented Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett and Michael Jackson among others. He has donated a number of his platinum plated awards to the law library but it is the image of Larry Blackmon in a codpiece‚ÄĒwhich in his defense seemed to make perfect sense back in the 80‚Äôs‚ÄĒon the walls of a law library that just makes me smile.
  • Finally, Yale has added bobbleheads to the Lillian Goldman Law Library rare book collection. Likeness of the Supreme Court justices in bobblehead form are now given similar historical attention to those commonplace gilt vellum bound manuscripts that litter the rare book collection. ¬†Their Rare Books Blog is actually quite fascinating and worth a read.

Laptop Anchors Installed

In response to students’ requests the law library is in the process of installing laptop anchors on about half of its 113 student study carrels located throughout the law library’s lower and upper levels.

These laptop anchors ‚Äďessentially a hook fastened to the study carrels with an industrial adhesive and screws– allow students to secure their laptops with a laptop cable. Most laptops offer a K-slot or other anti-theft system that allows a user to attach a security cable to the laptop and in turn secure it to an anchor. Check with your manufacturer for recommendations of security cables that are compatible with your laptop.

Librarians Williams and Brannon point out the selected laptop anchor

We found that there is no shortage of laptop anchor designs and options available. Consequently the law library looked to the students for direction in selecting the ones that would be ultimately installed.  Over spring exams (as part of the library’s coffee study break initiative which transforms the library conference room into a makeshift café offering free coffee to students studying for exams in the library) three laptop anchors were presented. Students were asked to vote on which anchor they would like to see installed in the law library. 92 votes were cast and the overwhelming preference with 57 votes was anchor option A (seen here with Librarians Austin Williams and Pam Brannon).

These laptop anchors will be installed over the summer and available by the start of the fall semester (if not sooner).

The law library does provide public services during regular university business hours (8:30 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday). Members of the public are welcome in the law library at these times. The law library is committed to providing a safe and studious environment for members of the College of Law community as well as the general public. Students are reminded to take personal responsibility for protecting their property. While laptop anchors and security cables do create a deterrent to theft, it is strongly recommended that students never leave their laptops or other computing devices unattended‚ÄĒeven if you are just getting a drink of water or running to the bathroom.

Just Something We Are Working On

While I was walking through the library stacks yesterday I was thinking about the new building. I often think about the new building–specifically big beautiful windows.

Yesterday was a little different. I was thinking about flexible furniture. This was because a student had dragged a two-top study table to the comfortable seating located near the bathrooms. Now I do not know how they sat on those low seats (the comfortable seats, not the bathroom) and were able to work on anything. Nonetheless I was once again reminded that students are going to use/move furniture as they see fit. I used to fight it. In fact I used make the grain of all the tables run the same way, but I learned.  Students need to be able to create study space that works for them (assuming it is not disruptive to others).

This put me in mind of video I had seen. Some students took this idea to its natural conclusion when they designed these chairs. What I do not understand is how this technology has not been applied to rolling bookbags yet.

I’d like to buy the library a Coke.

Coke machine in Law Library copyroom

Not really.

But you can¬†buy yourself one with the arrival of the Law Library’s new Coke machine (not to be confused with a “New Coke” machine). ¬†That is right, we have a Coke machine in the Law Library. Students no longer have the procrastination tool of ¬†faking a cough and having to go to the bookstore or second floor vending machines to get something to drink.

The behemoth was rolled in the other day and in a couple of hours was ready to serve library patrons cold drinks.  Selections include  Minute Maid juice, Monster energy drinks, Vitaminwater, Powerade, Dasani water, and your traditional selection of Coca-cola sodas (Coke, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Mr. Pibb, and MelloYellow). Unfortunately there is no root beer, but we are working on that.

The Coke machine is located in the Law Library copyroom (UL 116).  Incidentally with the arrival of the Coke machine and imminent arrival of the new book scanner (to be explained in a later post), it may be time to rename this room as it will soon house one copier, one scanner, and one Coke machine. The term copyroom no longer seems accurate as the room is no more a copyroom than it is a scanroom or a drinkroom. Perhaps, the copy-scan-drink room?

With¬†that¬†being our best idea so far, we put it to you. ¬†What should we call this¬†bizarre, round, brick, room in the middle of the Law Library? The soda can? better yet… the soda scan? That is it. I give up.

Stop by the reference desk and make a suggestion or just find out when the next Library Abridged session will be hosted.