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Curiosity helps Crandall leap from art world to legal work

Jane Crandall - librarian, Axley Brynelson LLp, Madison

Jane Crandall – librarian, Axley Brynelson LLP, Madison

From where Jane Crandall stands, taking in a painting by Botticelli is much like connecting the strokes in a case history.

“When you study a work of art, you’re learning about it as you go, and there are so many things you need to consider: When it was made, the materials, the historical context, who received it,” Crandall said. “Seeing it from all angles is really how I approach my work.”

Crandall, a librarian and sometimes paralegal at Axley Brynelson, earned an art history degree from the University of Wisconsin and worked for eight years in the education and curatorial divisions of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. She moved back to her native Madison with her husband and two children to work as a docent at the Chazen Museum of Art. After getting her paralegal certification, she joined the legal library and research services department at Axley.

She said she doesn’t fit the librarian stereotype: stuffy and out of reach. Rather, Crandall said she collaborates with attorneys on how they prefer to learn – in folders of files or on a tablet, for example – and sets up an open space for spreading out documents. She also writes for the website legal expertise blog and creates fundraising videos.

Crandall said there is one thing that connects librarians across all disciplines.

“We’re curious,” she said. “I like to know more. I get to a point where there’s always a wonder, the thought, ‘What if I look over here?’”

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