In May 2018, Kim Nayyer visited the Law School to study how the library integrates with the school and engages with the rest of the university’s twenty libraries. One year later, she’s returning as Cornell Law’s new Edward Cornell Law Librarian, associate dean for library services, and professor of the practice.
“I came for purely academic reasons,” says Nayyer, who has spent the past four years as Associate University Librarian at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. “I’d discussed our system with a Cornell Law librarian, and I thought it would be interesting to visit campus and see how Cornell’s system is structured, how law library activities and operations are handled. So I spent a few days researching and meeting with library staff, and I just knew it was a great place.”
While in Ithaca, Nayyer hiked through Cascadilla Gorge, explored downtown’s bookstores, and gave a presentation about her work with indigenous law materials and retrospectively implementing a new classification for indigenous law launched by the Library of Congress. Then, after flying 2,800 miles home and telling her family about the steepness of Ithaca’s hills, she saw a posting for the Law School’s librarian position, decided to apply, and had a first interview at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries.
That interview led to another, and ultimately to a starting date at Cornell Law in the beginning of May 2019. For Nayyer, who grew up in Alberta, Ithaca is a long way from Victoria, where she heads the law library, teaches courses in legal research and writing, directs collaborations with other institutions, leads projects for students, and serves on dozens of committees, including the working group tasked with implementing UVic’s indigenous plan and the law library’s role in a new joint degree program combining indigenous law and Canadian common law at UVic law school.
As an undergraduate at the University of Alberta, Nayyer majored in biology before graduating and then earning an LL.B. from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1992 and an MLIS from the University of Alberta in 2001. In the years since, she clerked for the late Associate Chief Justice Jerome at the Federal Court of Canada, worked as legal counsel for the Alberta Court of Appeal, conducted research for large and small law firms in Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto, and re-entered academia as a law librarian at UVic in 2011.
Along the way, she’s given dozens of presentations on issues facing university law librarians and law faculty, blogged regularly for Slaw.ca and the Canadian Bar Association, and contributed chapters to Human Rights Law in Canada (2000) and Comprehensive Guide to Legal Research, Writing & Analysis (2016, 2018). Nayyer currently serves as vice chair of the North American Cooperation Section of the Association of American Law Schools, and was recently named incoming vice president of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries, a post she’ll continue at Cornell Law. She’s raising a family that runs 8K races together, and no matter how busy she’s been in Victoria—her resume lists sixty-eight current work responsibilities along with thirty-five current committee memberships—she feels ready for this next opportunity.
“I’m excited by the challenge and by the kind of research that’s being done by Cornell Law faculty,” says Nayyer, who is moving to Ithaca with her husband, who works as a medical physicist, and their two children, a seventh-grader and a high school sophomore. “I love adventure, I love learning, and I’m very, very curious. What excites me most about Cornell is the sense of change and just knowing that there will be so much more to learn.”