Youngwoo Ban is a research librarian at the Wiener-Rogers Law Library at the William S. Boyd School of Law. Previously, he served as a reference librarian at Indiana Tech Law School and as a law library fellow at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.
Ban was inspired to get into law librarianship because of the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, including legal research, electronic resources management, collection development, and outreach services. “When people ask about my work, I tell them my primary responsibilities are to provide reference services and help maintain electronic resources that would help students and faculty conduct their research projects.”
He goes on to say that the biggest misconception pertaining to his career is that all he does is buy and shelve books and that couldn’t be further from the truth. The law librarians are an integral part of the law school ecosystem and are usually at the forefront of new and innovative ideas in the research of the legal field.
You served in the military. Can you tell us of some of your experiences?
I served in the Republic of Korea Navy for two years (August 2009 to August 2011) to complete my mandatory military service.
After completing the basic training, I was assigned to a ship where I ended up serving as a cook even though I had absolutely no culinary background. The poor senior sailors who were stuck with me had to teach me everything from scratch. I still keep in touch with them, and I recently visited a sushi restaurant that my fellow sailor opened last year.
After spending about seven months aboard the ship, I was sent to another ship to serve as an interpreter for an Italian engineer who was working on the ship's weapons. At that time, nobody in my fleet spoke Italian so I was brought in as an English interpreter as the engineer spoke English. Their previous interpreter had just completed his service so they needed another interpreter for one month.
After spending a month as an interpreter, I was assigned to the 2nd Fleet headquarter (Pyeongtak, Korea) where I completed the remainder of my military service as an office assistant. I did lots of photocopying, shredding, and ran errands for the officers. I also served as an interpreter whenever we did a joint exercise with the United States 7th Fleet or whenever we had visitors from the U.S. 7th Fleet. (The U.S. 7th Fleet is based in Japan but visits Korea often to do joint exercises).
Although it was compulsory, I learned valuable lessons by serving in the Korean Navy. Aside from learning how to cook, it was a great opportunity to interact with people from a variety of backgrounds.
What was your greatest day on campus? And your toughest?
Whenever I can provide effective reference/research assistance to students and faculty, it is a great day.
As for a tough day, I recently had to attend multiple meetings, work on various committee matters and faculty reference requests (including a long-term research project), and prepare for my Advanced Legal Research class all in one day.
Best tip or advice for someone new to UNLV?
Parking is free on Fridays after 1 p.m., and lunch is only $7 at the Dining Commons on Wednesdays and Fridays.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Do not worry too much about things that you do not have control over.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I lived in Oklahoma for 12 years.
What trait do you most like about yourself? What would you change?
A trait I like about myself is that I am a good listener. I would like to pay more attention to topics/issues that may not be most interesting to me.
What was the last book you couldn’t put down?
Alain De Botton’s A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary (2009). I read this book right after the pandemic began because it talks about a variety of people at an airport, including travelers and airport employees. Reading this book and watching old travel videos on YouTube helped me cope with COVID-related stress and anxiety in early 2020.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Watching cat videos on YouTube.