Welcoming law library presence celebrates retirement

Jeff Montgomery retiring after 46 years

Photo courtesy of Jeff Montgomery.

After 46 years at KU Law, Jeff Montgomery is retiring.

The circulation and serials department manager for the Wheat Law Library started working with the law school as a graduate student, shelving books in “old” Green Hall – now known as Lippincott – in 1976. He joined the law library staff full-time in 1981.

Since then, he has built relationships with the thousands of students who have passed through the law library.

“That’s been my mission all these years. I know where they’re coming from and I know how stressful it is and how miserable it can be, so I’ve always tried to make this a stress-free zone,” he said. From renewing books for students to printing something a student needed, Montgomery’s philosophy has been to make students’ experiences as smooth as possible.

“I just tried to treat them like I would like to have been treated,” he said.

Knowing everyone’s name is part of that approach. The law library keeps photo sheets of the current and recent law classes behind the circulation desk. Going back to the early 1990s, Montgomery has made a special effort to review seating charts and photo sheets to learn each student’s name.

“I have always felt like learning somebody’s name was a form of respect,” he said. “I just thought that was a nice thing to do for them, so they weren’t just a number. I think they appreciated that.”

For the past three decades, Montgomery has organized the Barber Emerson Bluebook Relays. The raucous KU Law tradition tests first-year students’ legal citation skills. Teams from each Lawyering Skills section race through Wheat Law Library to locate and record references as quickly — and accurately — as possible. Montgomery plans it all and keeps score.

The Student Bar Association honored Montgomery at an event in April, presenting him with a poster signed by current students. Current and past law faculty, staff and alumni gathered for a retirement reception at Green Hall in May. 

In retirement, Montgomery is looking forward to well-earned time to relax.

— By Margaret Hair