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Image by Patrick Tomasso

Kristen M. Hallows

Award Winning


Recent Work

Recent Work



One autumn afternoon in 2000, a Zenair CH 601 HDS strained upward from the Morehead-Rowan County Airport near Morehead, Kentucky. My father, the pilot, expressed genuine concern that we might not clear the rapidly-approaching treetops due to my exceptionally heavy bags; several stories in the air, it was an unsettling prospect ultimately rendered obsolete by a safe landing on a runway pressed into a flat expanse of central Ohio.

As a high school senior, dad’s home-built aircraft offered the only viable method of visiting a friend who had begun college surrounded by Appalachian mountains. At once cautionary and provocative, the word EXPERIMENTAL shouted its presence in black sans-serif letters from the inside of each door, seeming to offer both pilot and passenger one last chance to demur. 

Why not categorize the aircraft as “amateur built” or even the more pejorative “non-professional”? I’ve always had difficulty equating experimental with non-commercial or amateur despite the miscellany of state and federal statutes and regulations making it so. Experimental connotes the hesitant nature of an experiment, of course; but in the phrase experimental knowledge, it indicates something “based on or derived from experience,” like the plane itself. 

On Friday, July 28, 2000, 69-year-old Donald E. “Buz” Lukens, former U.S. representative and Ohio senator, must’ve embraced the soggy Beaumont, Texas heat as he stepped into freedom from the low-security federal prison that had confined him for the last two and a half years. Buz’s tarnished name surely had faded from public memory, but without his influence in another experiment a decade and a half earlier, a political one, dad might never have taken flying lessons, and this experimental plane, the winsome avocation that would permeate my family’s collective memory, wouldn’t have accomplished its designated purposes—to transport; to amuse—hundreds, possibly thousands, of times.

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Essays & Articles


Why Flabby Is a Fine Adjective for 2020 and Beyond


I first encountered the word flabby used creatively in the Adam Smith, Esq. blog. I read Bruce MacEwen’s law firm commentary mainly for the quality and sparkle of the writing and, at the time, I thought it was a thoughtful use of a word typically confined to, at least in my experience, less-than-taut midsections. Naturally, all efforts to find the post have been unsuccessful, but I’m certain of the origin...


Why Natural Doesn’t Always Equal Safe

Medium The Startup

In 2018, a 69-year-old man was admitted to a hospital in China. His complaints included lower limb weakness, unsteady gait, and muscle pain. He was found to have severe rhabdomyolysis, a potentially fatal type of myopathy (neuromuscular disorder) believed to be caused by statin (cholesterol-lowering drug) use. Over the previous decade, the patient had taken 40 mg of simvastatin every day...

The Country Doctor Who Cured Insanity

Medium Invisible Illness

“If you’re going to write about my work, you kids’d better know and tell right out what’s been bad about me,” Dr. John (Jack) Ferguson said in the spring of 1956 at the lakeside home of one of Michigan’s most celebrated medical writers, Dr. Paul de Kruif. The 29-acre estate’s wildflower namesake, the Wake Robin, bloomed as intensely as the apéritifs...

Your Creative Nonfiction Cravings Explained

Medium Future Vision

“I type inquiry into a search engine. In 0.36 seconds, I receive nearly 290 million results.”

These are the words of Professor Tom Liam Lynch in a punchy piece titled “Inquiry in an Age of Query,” but I could have written them myself, and you probably could have, too. Many of us have an almost identical experience daily — perhaps many times a day...


“Architecture from a Psychotic Viewpoint”: A True Story of Psychedelic Serendipity and Hospital Design

Top Ten Winner of the 87th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in the Magazine Feature Article Category

Ragazine 14 (3)

Like a swift descent into cold water, Kyoshi Izumi’s first sensation was that of muscle tightness. Despite an acute astigmatism, titles of books 15 feet away were legible without glasses. A partial deafness in his left ear, a closed door, and a distance of 30 feet did nothing to diminish the sound of his Chihuahuas’ toenails clicking against the floor...

Truth as Corollary to Knowledge: The Impact of Sandra Marlow

Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping 23 (3), 9-21

Sandra "Sunny" Marlow, fine artist and librarian, was the conduit through whom the public became aware of radiation experiments conducted on residents of the Walter E. Fernald State School. This exposition of Marlow's fateful tenure at the institution selectively plumbs its historical and situational framework beginning with the toehold established by the eugenics movement in the early twentieth century. While librarians are not the only helping professionals well suited to the task of finding and revealing secrets with potentially shattering significance, their existence at the vanguard of information literacy and access to knowledge uniquely positions them to ensure that bygone events have a place in the public consciousness today...



Finding Relevance In an Ever-Evolving Legal World

AALL Spectrum 22 (2), 21-24

You probably became desensitized long ago to the word "relevance," the loss of which being a persistent bugaboo in the presence of relentless technological advancement. Furthermore, the word's chronic misuse may allow a loose directive to cloud a well-articulated vision...


[Review of To the Edge: Legality, Legitimacy, and the Responses to the 2008 Financial Crisis by P. Wallach]

Law Library Journal 108 (2), 308-310

Why can lawful actions be viewed as dubious while extralegal steps are heartily endorsed? This is precisely what Philip A. Wallach sets out to determine in his introduction to and survey of the divergence of law and legitimacy in times of crisis...



Dialectic of Transformation: The Shaping of a Name*

Winner of the AALL Article of the Year Award

AALL Spectrum 18 (6), 11-14

Law librarianship, similar to other professions, emerged from humble beginnings. Christine A. Brock’s “Law Libraries and Librarians: A Revisionist History” (Law Library Journal, 1974) explained that the earliest academic law librarians were those whose only qualification was the willingness to accept a small salary: students, janitors, and old men...

It's All Enumerative: Reconsidering Library of Congress Classification in U.S. Law Libraries

Winner of the AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers Award

Law Library Journal 106 (1), 85-99

At its most basic level, the human impulse to classify emerges from our strong desire to know what to expect. New things that resemble familiar things need little or no further examination. Quite simply, “we know what to expect of a dog or a banana, since they are similar to dogs and bananas we already know...”


Health Information Literacy and the Elderly: Has the Internet Had an Impact?

The Serials Librarian 65 (1), 39-55

The objective of the literature review was to determine whether the existence of the Internet has had a significant impact on health information literacy among the elderly in developed nations. Results were truly mixed, which led to the conclusion that, despite its worldwide acceptance and usage, the Internet has not had an all-encompassing influence on the ability of seniors to make informed health decisions, which is the ultimate product of good health information literacy...

*Co-authored with Christine Bowersox

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