Staff Spotlight - Tanya Johnson


Our second staff spotlight blog post features the library’s new reference librarian, Tanya Johnson. Tanya joined us in October 2016. She provides reference and research assistance as well as research instruction, develops research materials, and participates in collection development. She is also involved with interlibrary loan services. 

1.      How does your work fit into the core functions of the library/law school?

As I understand it, our mission at the library is to assist our patrons (primarily students and faculty, but also including the public) with research and educate them with regard to finding and using appropriate sources (without giving legal advice, of course).  As an educational and research institution, I think that providing reference services is a core function of the library and the law school.

2.      What is your favorite thing about our library/campus/community?           

My favorite thing (so far) is how welcoming everyone has been and how willing everyone is to help me get up to speed at the library!

3.      What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?          

I would love to be an archeologist, but I would probably just end up being a student forever and keep learning all sorts of different things.

4.      What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your life thus far?    

The hardest time in my life was when I lost my grandmother.  She was a very important influence on me, and it was incredibly difficult to learn how to live without talking to her every day.  She was a Holocaust survivor and the strongest woman I have ever known.  The picture below is one of the few that she saved from before the war.  My grandmother is on the far right, and with her are her two sisters and her grandmother.  You can listen to my grandmother describing the picture at  The clip is from an oral history interview my grandmother did for the Shoah Project.

5.      How do you define success?  

I think success is about helping others and being happy.  If I can help someone out, or teach someone something, then I feel successful.

6.      What led you to your current career path?

I was pre-med as an undergrad, but I did not like being in the lab, so I went to law school instead.  I have always loved research and problem-solving, so becoming a law librarian seemed like the perfect fit.

7.      What was the first job you ever had?           

Have you ever gone to the movie theatre and seen the trivia questions and advertisements before the movie starts?  When those were actual slides (and not digital photos), I physically made the slides and shipped them to the theatres. 

8.      Tell us something that might surprise us about you.            

I am fascinated with ancient Egypt and have a large, colorful tattoo based on elements of ancient Egyptian mythology.

9.      What is the best book you have ever read?  

There are far too many to list.  Some of my favorite authors are Alice Hoffman, David Eddings, Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf, Wally Lamb, Daphne du Maurier, and Isabel Allende.

10.  Where is your favorite place to be? 

Curled up in front of a fireplace with my pets, a good book, and maybe some s’mores. 

11.  Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?          

Barcelona.  It is beautiful and interesting, and the atmosphere is so warm.  I cannot describe it well enough to do it justice.

12.  What is your personal philosophy?    

No day in which you learn something is a complete loss.

13.  What hobbies do you have?  

I read, I write, I paint, and I play several instruments.

14.  What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

Indoor plumbing.

Please join the law library in welcoming Tanya to UConn Law!


Profile Photo of Rebecca Bearden
Rebecca Bearden
Technical Services Librarian,UConn Law

Rebecca works primarily within acquisitions and serials, by processing and receiving monographic and serial book orders, recordkeeping, and ensuring database integrity, as well as assisting with catalog maintenance and electronic resource management. She provides customer service between the library and vendors for book order and subscription related issues. She holds a B.A. from Eastern Connecticut State University, and an M.L.S. from Southern Connecticut State University. 

Tanya Johnson
Reference Librarian,University of Connecticut School of Law