Our fantastic director, John Adkins, has been awarded the prestigious Bethany J. Ochal Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession by the American Association of Law Libraries. The Bethany J. Ochal Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession award is presented to a Government Law Libraries Special Interest Section member who has made a significant contribution to law librarianship.

John has dedicated his career as a law librarian to advancing access to justice for the people of San Diego County. When John became Director of the law library a decade ago, he undertook some daunting projects. The first order of business was renovating our Downtown location to update the building with modern amenities and technologies while retaining its mid-century modern lines.  While the renovation was underway, John also dealt with the financial crisis and its impact on the law library’s funding.

In order to better advocate for the County Public Law Library system, John became President of the Council of California County Law Librarians (CCCLL) in 2014. As President of CCCLL, John rallied the fifty California County Law Libraries together to fight for supplemental state funding to survive the economic crisis. Under his leadership, the County Law Libraries twice received supplemental state funding and were recognized as public law libraries by the state of California and gaining access to resources and grants not previously available.

John has also been very active in the national and local law librarian communities. Locally, he was a founding member of the San Diego Area Law Libraries (SANDALL), the local chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries. He also served as both SANDALL President (2001-2002, 2008-2009) and Vice President (1999-2000).   He has also been a leader in the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), serving as an Executive Board Member (2014-2017), and serving on the Strategic Planning Committee, the Annual Meeting Program Committee, the CONELL Committee, and many Special Interest Sections. He was recognized as an AALL Champion earlier this year for his service to the profession.

In addition to his work at SDLL, he also volunteers his time and efforts to organizations such as the State Bar of California Civil Justice Strategies Task Force and as a Commissioner on the State-Wide California Access to Justice Commission. These groups focus on ways to close the justice gap and improve access to civil justice for those living on low to moderate incomes.

The Bethany J. Ochal Award comes just as John is looking forward to his retirement at the end of June. We are so happy to see that his contributions to the profession of law librarianship have been nationally recognized.

If you are interested in learning how you can support the law library’s mission to ensure access to justice is available to all the people of San Diego County, you can donate to the San Diego Law Library Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization created as a charitable trust affiliated with the San Diego Law Library. The sole mission of the Foundation is to aid us in our efforts to provide access to justice through our many resources and programs.