An Honor from Colleagues: Chicago-Kent Library Director Inducted into AALL Hall of Fame
“Law librarians—we’re one of the best networked professions, in that, we always support each other and share our expertise,” says Jean M. Wenger, director of the Chicago-Kent College of Law Library and a senior lecturer at the law school.
Wenger has been inducted into the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Hall of Fame. She was one of four 2023 inductees.
AALL is the national professional association of law librarians and other legal information professionals. The Hall of Fame recognizes professionals who have been members of AALL for over 25 years and have made significant, substantial, and long-standing contributions to the profession of legal information management, including service to the association, working with outside organizations on behalf of the profession, or serving as exceptional role models for their colleagues.
Wenger has been involved with the organization in various capacities and leadership positions for over 25 years, including serving as its president from 2012–13. In addition to leadership roles, she has been a frequent presenter for educational conferences and a guest lecturer. She also served as president of the Chicago chapter of AALL.
“I remember when they first called me to run for the AALL executive board,” she says. “It’s a privilege to have the support and confidence of my colleagues in the profession, not just in Chicago but all around.”
“Information is power, particularly in the field of law. Law affects our lives from the time we’re born to even after we pass away. It affects relationships, it affects education, it affects society,” she says. She has worked on access to justice initiatives. “It’s so important that not only legal professionals, but also non-lawyers can access and find reliable legal information.”
Wenger has been with Chicago-Kent since 2018. Before that, she spent nearly 30 years at the Cook County Law Library in Chicago, helping lawyers, judges, and non-lawyers navigate and access legal information and the complicated legal process. In that time, she also learned to navigate an ever-changing world.
“Librarians were the first technologists in universities, firms, and corporations,” she says. “During my career, I’ve witnessed the launch and evolution of the internet for legal research. Law librarians were responsible for the introduction and training of the legal profession in electronic legal research.”
Wenger credits AALL and its members for helping her and the law librarian field learn to master new technologies and, per our mission, to position AALL members as the recognized authority and experts in all aspects of legal information.
“Seeing all the work that the board, committees, sections, and chapters did in moving legal information management and legal information access forward, it was quite remarkable, and it was all volunteer,” she says.
“I find great value in professional associations and belong to many, including law library associations and, as an attorney, bar associations. I get so much out of my involvement,” she says. Wenger currently serves as treasurer of the International Association of Law Libraries and secretary of the standing committee on continuing legal education of the Illinois State Bar Association. “The people I’ve met, the conversations I’ve had, what I’ve learned…it’s been amazing. I work with fabulous people.”
Photo: Jean Wenger