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Meet Ben Carlson

May 23, 2022

Ben Carlson is our Associate Director for Scholarly Data and Innovation. He joined the Biddle team in April.

Ben Carlson and his cat Euclid.


What is your role at the library?

I am the Associate Director for Scholarly Data and Innovation. My “elevator pitch” for what I do is that I am trying to get as many interested eyes as possible looking at the intellectual output of Penn Carey law. A major element of this initiative is to make sure our faculty scholarship is as accessible and searchable as possible online through SSRN and our institutional repository. Additionally, our repository and online presence should reflect and preserve the full intellectual life of the school, so we are planning to collect more content from our centers and affinity groups and highlight the important and interesting work that is created throughout this institution. Another essential part of my job is assessing and improving the scholarly impact of Penn Carey Law. We need to collect as much data as we can to determine the reach and impact of the law school in the legal community, and find out where we can improve the law school’s scholarly visibility. I’ll also be providing reference services and teaching in the near future.

This is a new position, which is exciting and a bit daunting. I’ll be working closely with stakeholders throughout the law library, law school, and the university to develop partnerships and opportunities to collaborate to tackle these issues. I’ve already been so impressed with everyone I’ve met here!

Describe your past work experience.

After less than a year of practicing law, I found that it was not for me. In 2008 I decided to focus on what I liked most about law school, i.e. research and information, so I started on the path to becoming a law librarian. I started as an Access Services Assistant doing document delivery and ILL at Drexel Law while I was getting my Masters in Library and Information Science at Drexel’s College of Computing and Informatics. Eventually I became the Emerging Technologies Librarian at Villanova Law, where I built their Institutional Repository, helped manage the law school website, and provided research and instructional services. In 2019, I had the opportunity to become Director of IT at UConn Law. Taking over IT operations was eye-opening enough by itself, and then COVID came through three months into the job and turned the difficulty level up to 11. After 2+ years in that position I decided to turn back to librarianship, and was so fortunate to find this opportunity at Penn that combines all of the interests and skills I’ve developed throughout my career.

How do you spend your free time?

I live with my wife and our cat (Euclid) within walking distance of downtown Phoenixville. We have been loving getting to know this adorable town and exploring all the walking paths, including the Schuylkill River Trail. I am also an amateur photographer/videographer, so I’m looking forward to taking my camera out on our walks through the summer. I enjoy playing video games, watching TV (currently loving the new season of Hacks on HBO Max), and learning new technologies.

My wife is the new Executive Director at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville (come out for BlobFest on July 8-10!), which is a great excuse to take in a lot of movies and live shows at a 100+ year old venue. It’s hard to fit in everything we want to do!