Wednesday, May 23, 2018
State Librarian Stephen Parks says he fell into his profession by accident. Parks, a La Grange, N.C., native, earned a bachelor's degree in political science from East Carolina University in 2006. Parks moved to Jackson for law school in 2007 and earned his law degree from Mississippi College School of Law in 2010.
"After three years in law school, I realized I didn't want to work as an attorney, but around the time of graduation, I saw they needed someone to work in the law library," he says. "I applied for that position not knowing what it would entail at the time, but I'm glad I took it, because now I love what I'm doing to make law accessible to the public."
In 2013, he received his master's degree in library and information science from the University of Southern Mississippi. He served as the research, instructional services and circulation librarian at MC's School of Law from 2010 to 2015, and taught legal research at the school. Parks also taught law librarianship at Tulane University in summer 2016 and has been an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Mississippi since 2015. He has served as Mississippi's state librarian since January 2016 and is responsible for overseeing the State Law Library inside the Gartin Justice Building in downtown Jackson. The library provides legal research materials for the judiciary branch, state agencies, lawyers, students and the general public.
"Since becoming state librarian I've been working hard to raise public awareness of the library, because many people don't realize it's available to the public," Parks says. "I want everyone to know they can visit us and use our resources."
In 2016 he established a partnership with the Mississippi Digital Library to provide some of the law library's historical items such as House and Senate journals online.
The American Association of Law Libraries, a national association of law school and court libraries, and independent librarians who perform law research, recently named Parks as a recipient of its 2018 Emerging Leader Award.
AALL gives the award to law librarians with less than 10 years of organization membership who have made significant contributions to the associations.
Parks, 33, is also chairman of the Central Mississippi Library Council, and previously served as vice president and Scholarship Committee chair of the organization. He is a member of the Mississippi Bar, the American Association of Law Libraries and the Southeastern Chapter of AALL.