An Unexpected Journey for Ralph Monaco '71UC, '73MLS
Over the last four decades, Ralph Monaco ’71UC, ’73MLS has enjoyed a successful career in Library and Information Science, though he’s the first to admit that it’s a journey he never expected.
“It’s interesting how I got into this industry,” explained Monaco, who currently serves as Executive Director of The New York Law Institute. “I was at St. John’s studying to earn a B.A. in Political Science, and I saw an ad regarding a part-time job at the St. John’s School of Law library. I had no idea that was even a career – I figured it was just a convenient job located a few floors below where I went to class. That seemingly small job, however, would turn into something much greater for me.”
As time went on, Monaco began assuming more and more responsibility within the Law library and, soon enough, had discovered that Information Science was his true passion. A few years later, he began working at St. John’s in a full-time capacity as he obtained his graduate degree.
“In many ways, my time at St. John’s was almost like a long-term internship,” he said. “It was very much like the guild system, where you learned from the masters. The SJU Law library was like my laboratory, allowing me to hone my skills.”
All those years of training set Monaco up to succeed, and after SJU, he moved on to a position at Brooklyn Law School. He later spent 14 years as Head Librarian at Rivkin Radler LLP before joining The New York Law Institute, a full information-services organization that offers its members research materials in various formats, including 24/7 availability of electronic databases.
Monaco notes that it has been fascinating to watch his industry shift to digital resources.
“The first 15 years of my career, things were moving very slowly,” he said. “Now, however, the pace of change is quite rapid. Certainly, there were no computers back when I studied at St. John’s, but the University equipped me with the foundation and the background to grow in my profession and adapt to new technologies.”
Monaco has remained connected to the St. John’s community by serving as an Adjunct Professor, teaching Library and Information Science students how to conduct advanced legal research. Additionally, he was recently recognized at the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Division of Library and Information Science (DLIS), honored for his remarkable contributions to the field.
“It means a lot to me to have been recognized alongside such distinguished alumni and friends,” he said. “Our field is still growing, so it’s important to take a night out to commemorate St. John’s DLIS. The program provides students with the skills that they need, and the fact that it’s still thriving is a great reason to celebrate.”
Through it all, Monaco remains grateful for the fantastic career he’s had, and grateful for the University that helped him develop this unexpected passion.
“It was quite serendipitous how I found my way into the field,” he explained, “and I’m so glad to still be a part of this wonderful community.”