Each week this month we are featuring a 2021 Bernard E. Witkin Award Honoree chosen by the San Diego Law Library Foundation. The Witkin Awards celebrate excellence in the San Diego legal community and the good works done by the honorees. This week we are spotlighting the Witkin Award Honoree for Excellence in Public Service, San Diego Law Library Director John W. Adkins.


John W. Adkins has been a great example of excellence in public leadership throughout his career as a law librarian.  Of course, we know him as the award-winning director, the leader that renovated the law library’s downtown building, but he also formed a vibrant, active community law library.


Adkins’ leadership went statewide when he was elected president of the Council of California County Law Librarians, rallying them to lobby for state funding. Under his leadership, lightning struck twice as county law libraries received two supplemental state allocations to recover lost income. Moreover, Adkins led the way for amending the Education Code to recognize county law libraries as public libraries by the State of California, thereby gaining access to many government grants and discounts.


Also, Adkins has shown excellence in public leadership in the local professional association, San Diego Area Law Libraries, serving as president twice. Additionally, he was elected to serve on the national board of the American Association of Law Libraries for three years. Because of Adkins’ novel ideas about how to provide access to justice, he was appointed by the State Bar of California to its Special Civil Justice Strategies Task Force, where he was given a leadership position drafting its final report. As a Commissioner on the California Access to Justice Commission for several years, Adkins championed the many services county law libraries offer. His vocal leadership put county law libraries on the map, and they are now recognized as a central participant in California’s access to justice community.


We could go on and on about all of the spectacular things that Adkins has done for the people of San Diego County, but for those who know him his biggest contribution has been his amazing personality. Mr. Adkins brings joy and humor to everything he does. As anyone who attends the annual Open Houses knows, he is an amazing party planner with a jubilant sense of humor. He supports his employees and makes sure the work environment is special. He brings his intelligence, passion, and empathy to everything that he does, and for all the above, we should all feel lucky to have had him leading the San Diego Law Library for the past decade.


Join the celebration of John W. Adkins’ contributions to the legal community by making your reservation for the San Diego Law Library Foundation’s 2021 Bernard E. Witkin Award Reception. This year’s reception will be held on October 14th from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, and also be virtually streamed online for those who cannot attend in person. The Witkin Award Reception is the primary fundraiser of the San Diego Law Library Foundation.