Career Spotlight - Shana Jackson

Photo of Shana Jackson
Thursday, January 28, 2021
What is your current role at Yale University?
My title is Office Asst. III. – My role at the Lillian Goldman Law Library is multifaceted, and consists of assisting the Assoc. Director, librarians, staff, and students, and helping to ensure the law library runs smoothly.
What are your main responsibilities?
The position holds a plethora of responsibilities. Such as: purchasing office supplies, assisting with on-boarding new C&T administrative staff, planning retirement and holiday parties, hosting monthly morale meetings, and assigning study carrels to students and visiting researchers. 
I provide notary services for our faculty, students, staff, and other University affiliates. 
As the library liaison for the law school’s Building Services Department, I facilitate staff and students within the work and study spaces throughout the library. I schedule office moves, phone number changes, coordinate scheduling for outside vendors –  including furniture delivery, equipment installs and maintenance, and projects such as overseeing cleaning of the law library’s collection of books.  
I perform weekly walkthroughs and inspections, reporting leaks, uncomfortable temperature levels, light outages, selecting prints to hang throughout the library, testing emergency phones, as well as shipping student belongings to their homes (during COVID).
I’ve maintained the role of “Fish Whisperer”. For 19 years I’ve been responsible for the law library’s 180 gallon fish tank (pre-COVID) – selecting the fish for the tank, creating a visual legend (includes name and image of all the fish), feeding the fish, and selecting the right company to maintain the fish tank on a monthly basis. I also maintain my CPR/AED/First aid certificate for systems within the law library.
My love of photography was the impetus for me adding photographing law library events and exhibits to my repertoire of job responsibilities, which I’ve performed for the last twelve years. I began creating photo books for many of our retirees, including law library directors, and law school dean and donors; selecting just the right photos from thousands I’ve taken over the years. These photobooks are catalogued and kept in our law library Rare Books Room. Recently, I was fortunate to be able to co-curate the law library exhibit: You Can’t Be What You Can’t See. I collaborated with former Associate Law Librarian Lisa Goodman and our Research and Instructional Services Director Jordan Jefferson. I teamed up again with Jordan Jefferson to co-curate the exhibit Women at Yale 50/150: A Celebration of Women at Yale Law School, highlighting the Honorable Inez Smith Reid. Each year, I collaborate with my fellow committee members to plan and execute a successful student orientation for incoming law students. There are always new endeavors with the position, which makes my job exciting. Last year, one of my greatest honors was being asked to be part of the law library’s committee formed to search for a new Associate Director for Administration. 
What do you like most about your work?
Working with really terrific people – this entails working with the staff of law school library, students, and faculty. Over the years I’ve cultivated relationships with staff and students. The planning of parties, monthly morale meetings, and impromptu game hours are what I really enjoy. Our Law Library goal is to be the #1 Law Library in the world – that can produce some pressure. Creating a tea station also known as our department watering hole has allowed librarians and staff to take a break and to have lively discussions. To have students come back to visit and bring their families on graduation day, or when they come back as alum for their class reunion and bring their spouse and children by the office, that means a great deal to me. I enjoy the connections.
How does your job affect your general lifestyle?
I work “at” Yale, but I work “for” my family. Fortunately for me, I’ve had great supervisors who have worked well with me, allowing me the flexibility to be there for my family when needed, e.g. doctor appointments, gymnastics, and swim meets, etc. As a result, I’ve been committed to working really hard and doing my very best. Now that my children are older, I have more time to interact with colleagues, as teammates at East Rock Brewery’s local shuffleboard tournament, pumpkin carving events, and lunch and dinner outings. Work feels like home away from home. I feel as though my job has afforded me and my family an enjoyable lifestyle. My life and my job for now go hand in hand. I often need to take a break and do appreciate vacation, holiday, and recess time. To quote Kahlil Gibran, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness.” So there are times when I need my space from work, that place called Yale. This is how I feel about work and my life.
How did you begin your career?
By accident. I worked in a couple of other departments before working at the Yale Law School. The University’s bursar’s office  was one of the departments. l left there to go on maternity leave. I extended my maternity leave, and returned to Yale when I was asked to interview for a position at the Yale Law Library. I came back part time in 1995, gradually increasing my hours as my children got older. I didn’t return full time until 2008. 
In 2002, I began working with Liliane McClenning – now retired. We were like a Batman and Robin duo, working well together.  Liliane and I attempted to re-imagine our work place, helping to make the office feel like home away from home for us and the staff. There was mutual respect and camaraderie. I miss working with her.
What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job/this field?
Standard skills- Microsoft software, Teams, Zoom, Workday, E-ship Global.. However, you can teach someone the aforementioned skills. What isn’t as easily taught is sagaciousness – being able to discern how to navigate certain situations, being able to read people. You need to possess a level of integrity, and empathy, as well as be honest with yourself and others. Curiosity is a great quality – just a willingness to learn, and to find answers. Lastly, you need to possess emotional intelligence and be able to listen.
If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?
If I could do it over again, I think I would go to law school – to represent the underrepresented.. 
What does YAAA mean to you and how have you contributed as a member?
“Y – Triple A” for me represents a safe space and a forum for learning so much about people of color at Yale and in the community. The leaders of the group do a fantastic job of creating events that appeal to a wide spectrum of Black folk. I really appreciate the group and am glad to be a part of the community that’s been cultivated. The fantastic events that are organized, bringing authors, and other guest speakers to my attention that I might otherwise never have known. The organization does a great job of highlighting Black people and their accomplishments. “Y – Triple A”. 
As for my contributions, I’ve simply attended meetings and shown up to a few parties. I’ve held a couple of Black trivia events as part of YAAA, and I’ve volunteered during the early stages of COVID, passing out masks. I’ve been in the background and I realize that I need to do more.