Sherrel Gerlach

June 3, 2021

Beloved Librarian Sharrel Gerlach Sadly Passed Away on May 29, 2021

By Maggie Hall

Sharrel Gerlach was a dedicated librarian at Southwestern Law School for forty years. She began her career at Southwestern in May 1981 as a part-time reference librarian. Ever the multi-tasker, she worked evenings and weekends as a librarian and days as a supervising paralegal at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. Then, in 1990, Sharrel became a full-time librarian at Southwestern and turned her sights toward a law degree. For the next four years, she balanced being a librarian and a part-time student, earning her law degree at Southwestern in 1994. Her law school experience gave Sharrel a particular affinity and empathy for working part-time students. Students turned to her regularly for support and encouragement, which she gave freely. It is no wonder that students adored her.

Sharrel assisted students and staff in multiple ways as a librarian and adjunct professor teaching legal research. Other professors sought her out to help their students with seminar paper research. She excelled in guiding students to engaging, inspiring research topics, especially in the areas of criminal law and women and the law. She had a remarkable ability to connect with students beyond the research task at hand. She was well-loved by students who often looked to her for counsel, general information, comfort, and support. She made it a point to learn the names of all her students. Sharrel remembered details about students’ families, coursework, struggles, and triumphs well after they had left her class. She always had a sweet treat and a piece of advice for evening students stopping by the reference desk. 

Sharrel is an example of why Southwestern has a reputation for being a place where the student is part of a community, not just a school.  

Outside of the library, Sharrel doted on her dogs and loved going to the theatre and trying new restaurants. One of her favorites she often shared with her colleagues was El Caserio. Stimulating conversations over lunch are fond memories for many friends and colleagues. Additionally, she was a master baker, specializing in the most amazing cookies, which she shared generously with students, co-workers, and many others.

As a librarian, professor, and kind person, Sharrel mentored countless students during her 40 years at Southwestern. Those students, in turn, went on to become leaders, innovators, and mentors themselves. In them, Sharrel’s legacy lives on.

Per her wishes, there will be no service. Her family and friends have greatly appreciated all the kind and thoughtful messages.

Anyone wishing to send letters of condolence can an email to library@swlaw.edu or mail to:
Sharrel Gerlach’s Family
c/o Leigh H. Taylor Library
Southwestern Law School
3050 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010