What to Watch for at the CALI Conference & the AALL Annual Meeting

One of the privileges of being a CS-SIS member is learning from and networking with our colleagues at conferences. Below are just some of the programs CS-SIS members are presenting at the CALI Conference and the AALL Annual Meeting.

Don’t see your program listed? Contact Mari and she will add your program to the list.  

CALI Conference

CALIcon17 will be held June 15-16 at the Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

AALL Annual Meeting

The AALL Annual Meeting will be held July 15-18 in Austin, Texas.

CS-SIS is sponsoring the following events at AALL in Austin this year:

CS-SIS Roundtables:

And don’t miss these programs at AALL by CS-SIS members:

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Waking up….

The blog has been a bit quiet lately, but we planning new things here soon.  Look for posts about CS, AALL, CALI, tech tips and more.  Want to contribute?  Contact Debbie Ginsberg and we’ll get you on our schedule.

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2017 Winner of the CS-SIS Kenneth J. Hirsh Distinguished Service Award!

I am happy to announce that Vicki Szymczak, Library Director & Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hawaii, is the 2017 recipient of the CS-SIS Kenneth J. Hirsh Distinguished Service Award.

The Kenneth J. Hirsh Distinguished Service Award honors a CS-SIS member who has made outstanding contributions to the SIS, to AALL, and who is well regarded for their service to the profession. The inaugural award recipient was Ken Hirsh, in whose honor the award is named.

Vicki has been an active member of both CS-SIS and AALL. She has served on the CS board as both President (2008-2009) and Secretary/Treasurer (2003-2007). In AALL, Vicki currently serves on the Copyright Committee. Vicki regularly presents and moderates programs about topics relevant to CS members at the AALL Annual meeting. In all she does, Vicki is known as an enthusiastic and generous member of our community.

Please join me in congratulating Vicki for this well-deserved recognition of her commitment to the SIS, AALL, and the profession!

Cindy Bassett

CS-SIS Chair, 2016-17

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Making the in-person connection: An AALL review

by Mari Cheney

After every AALL Annual Meeting, I am struck by how much more productive in­-person networking, learning and meeting is compared to the virtual counterparts. An IRL conversation is more lively than an email exchange or even a phone call. However, technology can play a huge role in helping these in­-person exchanges get started.

  • Thanks to Twitter, I started talking with another academic law librarian about the possibility of writing a paper We exchanged tweets and email, and finally met at the annual meeting in person.
  • Thanks to Instagram, I heard about a PEGA­SIS event called Beer & Edits, so I submitted a paper via email for peer review and met the readers of my paper in
  • I attended an excellent program called Attorney Research Skills: Continuing the Conversation Between Law Firm and Academic Law Librarians and while we conversed in person with the other librarians at our table, the conversation was enhanced with a Twitter feed using the hashtag #attyresearch.

When I returned home from AALL, I started thinking about the power of in­-person communication as opposed to virtual communication, especially as it relates to law students. At my library, reference services are available through chat, email, in person, or by phone. We have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to promote library services. However, as most law librarians will agree, reference interactions are down, especially by phone. So how do we reach students, especially if they don’t open their email or navigate to the library’s home page to learn about our services?

I think in­-person interactions are the key to success, and used in conjunction with technology and online communications, our reach would be much further. Librarians should eat lunch where students eat lunch (and eat with them!); librarians should attend student­-led events; librarians should offer support to clinics and law reviews; and in doing so, librarians become the face of an otherwise generic reference desk.

Once that in-­person connection is made, our students will pay more attention to electronic communications from the library, in whatever form that may be, because they know us in person. And vice­-­versa, an introduction to the library on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or a welcome message to new students sent from the library’s email account may be the brief introduction a student needs to be comfortable greeting you in person. Use your technology to break the ice with a student IRL, whether it’s pointing out a Poke Stop or the nearest printer.


Mari Cheney, J.D., M.L.I.S., is the Digital Resources & Reference Librarian at Lewis & Clark Law School, Boley Law Library

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CS-SIS Grant Winner Lacy Rakestraw on the 2016 AALL Exhibit Hall

Lacy Rakestraw, Director of the St. Louis County Law Library, received a grant from CS-SIS that enabled her to attend this year’s AALL Annual Meeting and Conference. Here’s what she had to say about it:

No trip to an AALL Annual Conference would be complete without a visit to the exhibit hall, and at the recent conference in Chicago, I did just that.  I was immediately struck by all the bright colors, glowing lights, and flashy screens. At one point I stopped at the end of a row and looked down the alley.  From that viewpoint I counted at least 17 computer screens at 10 different vendor booths.  I stopped and thought how foreign this must look to librarians who have been in the business for the past 10 or 20 years.  As a digital-age millennial, all these screens are par for the course for me.  But what exactly did the exhibit hall of yesteryear look like?

I asked around, and the more seasoned librarians told me what they remembered.  There were obviously less screens and visual effects.  And apparently there was less swag. (maybe lanyards weren’t a thing in the 1990s?)  But what there was in the 1980/1990 exhibit hall was print.  Because that was what these vendors were selling.

In today’s vendor market, that’s why there is a proliferation of screens and flash at conference exhibits; because now that’s what vendors are pushing. Even those vendors who are print based had laptops with them at their booths, presumably to look up their company’s online catalog to check the availability of a product.  Or perhaps they had laptops in order to pass the time while conference attendees visited the bigger, more digital based vendors.  It did make me wonder how much longer we would have book-based vendors at the AALL Conference exhibit halls.

It also made me wonder, in 10 or 20 years, when I’m one of the more seasoned librarians visiting the Conference exhibit hall, what will I see?  Will there even be vendor reps, or will they all be machines, telling me to assimilate and that resistance is futile?

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Call for CS-SIS Annual Meeting Grant Applications

CS-SIS Members are invited to apply for one of two annual AALL Meeting and Conference grants:

AALL CS-SIS Grant for Students and New Librarians: The purpose of the AALL CS-SIS Grants Program for Students and New Librarians is to provide financial assistance for new librarians or students in library or information school to attend the AALL annual meeting, or a workshop offered at the annual meeting. Among the factors taken into consideration are qualities or activities that indicate the person shows promise of future involvement in the law library profession, especially those who are directly involved in providing technology support of any kind within law libraries.

AALL CS-SIS Grant for Experienced Librarians: The purpose of the AALL CS-SIS Grants Program is to provide financial assistance to librarians who have a demonstrated commitment to the law library profession, especially those who are directly involved in providing technology support of any kind within law libraries.

Grants will cover registration costs to attend the AALL conference, or registration fees for a workshop, held in Chicago. All funds are provided by the AALL CS-SIS.

Successful CS-SIS Grant awardees are expected to write an article about some aspect of attending the AALL Annual Meeting and Conference in Chicago. The article may feature an in-depth review of one program attended or an overview of your whole conference experience, for example.

To apply for a grant, send a letter outlining how you meet the criteria for the applicable grant, listing relevant job duties, other activities and articles written, above to Jean L. Willis, Chair of the CS-SIS Grants and Awards Committee, at jwillis@saclaw.org. Application letters are due by COB on Thursday, March 24, 2016.

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Call for Nominations – Kenneth J. Hirsh Distinguished Service Award

The Kenneth J. Hirsh Distinguished Service Award honors a CS-SIS member who has made outstanding contributions to the SIS, to AALL, and who is well regarded for their service to the profession. The inaugural award recipient was Ken Hirsh, in whose honor the award is named.

Criteria:

  • Outstanding leadership through committee work, service on the executive board, involvement in special projects or other activities
  • Participation in professional development activities in furtherance of the section and its interests, including educational program planning and presentations
  • Involvement with mentoring activities to foster interest and participation in the section and its activities
  • Evidenced commitment to the section, its purpose, and its role within the association in furtherance of the law library profession

To be eligible for the award, a nominee must be an active or retired member of the CS-SIS.  Section officers are not eligible for this award during their term of office.  For a list of past award recipients, please check the CS-SIS blog.

The CS-SIS Awards committee welcomes self-nominations, as well as nominations of your colleagues. To nominate yourself, or a colleague, send a nominating letter outlining how the nominee meets the criteria, above, to Jean L. Willis, Chair of the CS-SIS Grants and Awards Committee, at jwillis@saclaw.org.  Nominations are due by March 18, 2016.

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Evolving Roles for Law Librarians and Legal Technologists

Caroline Young, chair of the Computing Services Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries, graciously invited me to be the breakfast speaker at the section’s business meeting during the 2015 annual meeting and conference of the American Association of Law Libraries. Here are my remarks, lightly edited.

By now everyone here is well aware of the upheaval that we’ve witnessed for at least the past seven years in both the legal practice market and the legal academy. Whether or not our job title includes the word “librarian,” and whether we work in a law school, in a firm, or in a corporate law department; whether for a publisher or other vendor, in a government agency, or are providing contract services on our own; whether we’ve been in the profession for forty years or are seeking our first professional position, each of us has been significantly affected by the crash of these two “engines of economic activity” in recent years. And despite last week’s several optimistic reports that “our long national legal nightmare is over,” which followed the report that the number of summer LSAT takers increased slightly, we will continue to feel the effects of substantial change for the foreseeable future, and certainly for the remainder of my professional lifetime.

Since the very earliest days of our formal education, we have been told to expect change; that society is constantly evolving, and that we must change also. For a moment, think of the many changes you faced as you prepared for the transition from young child, to teenager, and then adult. New schools; the addition of new family members and, perhaps, the loss of a loved one. You learned that life is dynamic, and not only did life’s lessons demonstrate that to you, but plenty of writers reinforced it for you. “Change or die.” “The only constant is change.” We look forward to some change, like a vacation, as a welcome break in routine, or like a graduation as a mark that we have completed one phase of life and are about to embark on another. But as Anatole France said, “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”

Of course, during the last century, law schools, and law librarians experienced change, albeit at a more gradual rate, or at least so it seems to us as we look back at that period. The foundings of the Association of American Law Schools and AALL were six years apart; later came the merger of equity and law in the courts, and still later the custom of granting the J.D. degree instead of the LL. B. In law libraries we saw increased specialization in positions and the progress of technology, moving from books and the card catalog, through micro-formats, into the introduction of computerized access to legal research, while not leaving books behind. That pace accelerated quickly at the dawn of this century as the synergy of faster computer processors and cheaper data storage as predicted in Moore’s law, and the spread of high-speed, interconnected networks made it easier for everyone to seek their own answers: in a phrase, mass disintermediation.

As the last decade drew to a close, these trends collided with the worst recession since the great depression. Reductions in state revenue accelerated the move by many states to finance less of public education with tax dollars and instead rely on tuition increases, with much of that tuition being advanced through federal student loan programs. Bankruptcies and business downsizing led companies to grow more frugal on spending for legal services, and the middle class, which already avoided engaging attorneys as a general rule, was even less able to afford obtaining legal advice. Large law firms stopped hiring new associates, and began shrinking, consolidating with other firms, or closed down. Upstarts such as LegalZoom took advantage of technology to offer low-end services that had been the bread-and-butter of solos and small firms. And law schools, dependent on growing or at least stable student enrollment to sustain their activities, found themselves in a quandary. Department of Labor statistics showing a surplus of attorneys and press reports questioning the value of the J.D., some of them well-founded, some of them hyperbolic, further persuaded potential students to avoid law school as a career choice. As a result, enrollment of first-year law students has decreased by more than a fourth over the past five years. So while our profession has experienced change throughout its history, and many of its members have even thrived on it, the disruptive changes of the past few years have shaken many of us to the core.

In a moment I will give examples of how many of us are responding to these fundamental changes. First, however, I want to say what I mean by “we” and “us.” The people in this room, and our fellow AALL members, go by many titles. These include librarian, legal information specialist or professional, legal technologist, and even informationist. Whatever our title, we share the primary mission to foster access to legal information and the legal system, and we work with partners who include attorneys, paralegals, faculty, deans and other administrators, judges, and other government officials.

I also should note that because I have been working in the academy for the past twenty-six years, more of my examples will be drawn from academic law libraries. But make no mistake about it, those of our colleagues who work with and for law firms and other private enterprise, not-for-profits, and government employers are facing similar challenges and they also provide many examples of law librarians stepping up to meet the challenges.

So what exactly are we doing?

All of us are rebalancing our collections in an age where accessibility has largely replaced ownership. Last October, David Dunlap reported in the New York Times on the move of Kaye Scholer to a new flagship office, and that it had left behind most of its law library. To read the quotes of the partners, you’d think that it was merely the books that made up a library. Several weeks later Jean O’Grady wrote in her Dewy B Strategic blog about the outrage felt in the law library community concerning the naiveté of the author, who ignored the trends we’ve all been witnessing for the past two decades. She then went on to rightly point out that the appearance of the space that the partners call the library has little to do with the efforts made to ensure that they still have timely access to legal information. As Jean wrote, “The hero of the story is not the architect who designed a law office without a room designated as a ‘library,’ but the information professional who crafted the complex plan, reengineered the workflows and aligned the licenses and resources on which the digital infrastructure rests. In Kay Scholer’s case the true hero of the story was [AALL member] Shabeer Khan, who was not mentioned in the story.”

In Chicago June Liebert, who developed her professional skills as a librarian in academia and went on to be a law school CIO and then the library director at John Marshall Law School, now serves as Firmwide Director of Library & Research Services for Sidley Austin. There she is optimizing the delivery of legal information and reorganizing resources to enable the firm to better compete in today’s market.

At the same time that law students have adopted a more consumer-oriented attitude toward law schools, the ABA has adopted new accreditation standards that focus on educational and career outcomes, rather than the traditional measurements of dollars spent and the number of volumes of books on the shelves. AALL member law librarians are at the forefront of several schools’ moves to adapt.

At the William Mitchell College of Law, Associate Dean for Information Resources Simon Canick is playing a key leadership role in the launch of the school’s hybrid online and residential J.D. program. Research and Instructional Librarian Janelle Beitz is teamed with Instructional Designer David Herding and Chad Johnson, Director of Information Technology, in developing and delivering their hybrid program that puts students on campus for 55 hours of residential instruction during each of prep week and capstone week at the beginning and end of the semester, respectively, with asynchronous instruction sandwiched in between the two. The courses are designed by focusing on student competencies, and unit and lesson outcomes aim at teaching and assessing subcompetencies along the way. Here Janelle has moved well beyond the traditional role of a reference librarian to be a full partner in the development and delivery of new programs for law students.

At the very young University of North Texas Dallas College of Law, Jennifer Wondracek, Senior Law Librarian and Associate Director of Instructional Technology, is also working with a team to deliver courses that define learning outcomes, rely on rubrics, and offer formative assessments for students along the way. Jennie works alongside faculty including Assistant Professor Eric Porterfield and Beth Donohue, an expert in question design who used to work with the National Conference of Bar Examiners and now is with BarBri. Jennie’s familiarity with technology and educational design is helping UNT prepare for compliance with the new ABA accreditation standards. The law librarians at UNT may be setting the pace by adding preparation of assessment questions for adjunct faculty to their services.

It should go without saying, but it is nevertheless important to remind especially lawyers and law school administrators, that law librarians have long been the most qualified teachers of legal research. Whether in the informal setting of a firm associate’s office, a faculty lounge, or the more formal setting of the classroom, law librarians understand both meaning and context and can help new and experienced legal practitioners to better use their time and their client’s funds. Simply put, law librarians practice skilled discernment whether tackling a legal research problem or reviewing the latest upgrade to an electronic research system.

If you know me at all, you know that I espouse the duty of law librarians and legal technologists to teach law students and lawyers both the basics and the finer points of using technology in their jobs. While our former colleague John Palfrey wrote of millennials as digital natives, most of today’s law students have the mere passing familiarity of a quick google search or using a social network to find friends, arrange a meeting, share photos, or beef about a class. What they and many otherwise experienced practicing lawyers don’t understand is the way to ameliorate unintended risk from sending emails, publicly opining on cases even without mentioning a client’s name, or answering a question on a website. Our colleagues are often well-versed in both new technologies and the Rules of Professional Conduct. We can reach out in the familiar environment of our firms and schools and in the more unfamiliar realm of leading CLE programs and writing in bar journals.

Working with their faculty and I.T. colleagues, librarians like Roger Skalbeck, formerly at Georgetown and now the new director at Richmond, Steve Melamut, about to retire at UNC-Chapel Hill, Emily Janoski-Hahlen at Valparaiso, and Jennifer Behrens at Duke take different tacks on leading their technology courses. Their students will be ahead of the game when they use technology to communicate with clients and the courts, and ultimately to run their practices.

In government libraries, law librarians are working hard to improve access to the legal system. Rita Dermody, who will be retiring as Director of King County Public Law Library in Seattle, is a member of Washington’s statewide Access to Justice Board. As Utah State Law Librarian, Jessica Van Buren served on the state’s Committee on Resources for Self-represented Parties. With Jessica’s help, the committee obtained a grant to pilot a virtual self-help center housed in the state law library. This resource center provides administrative support to a small staff of attorneys who provide services to pro se litigants all over the state.

In Virginia State Law Librarian Gail Warren urged the state’s chief justice to appoint a law librarian to the new access to justice commission, and Gail was the first librarian to serve on it. She has used her library’s resources to set up a wiki for the commission’s work and is an advocate for both A2J and for involving law librarians in the commission’s work. Mark Estes in Alameda County, California reached out to the local legal service providers’ consortium to offer library services and John Adkins in San Diego County spearheaded the founding of a similar consortium there. Work such as this accomplishes the twin goals of advancing access to justice and showing all the players the important contributions that law librarians can make to the effort.

Finally I want to briefly circle back to the challenges facing academic law libraries as a key component of their institutions in the tough environment we’ve all be working within the past few years. As I wrote in Law Library Journal, I am more optimistic about our future than Jim Milles was in his article. I admit that I have no sure way of knowing what the future will bring to us, for as I said earlier, the only constant is change. So like all of us should, I try to plan for an uncertain future by looking at some of the possible paths to take, those I would choose and those that would be thrust upon me, and then try to allocate or acquire the resources to help us make a success on any of those possible paths. Let me close by quoting two wise sages who said and sing it more eloquently than I can.

Steve Jobs is best known to the world as the founder of Apple Computer, where he proved Thomas Wolfe wrong successfully going home again. While you think of him of a prescient designer and marketer of computers and other consumer goods, our son, Micah, admires him for saving Pixar Studios and bringing about the merger that put it at its rightful home, the Walt Disney Company. Jobs was often invited to give commencement speeches, and at the 2005 commencement of Stanford University, this is what he told the graduates:

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path and that will make all the difference.

I have only a few hard and fast rules when I perform karaoke. First among them is that I would never try to sing Dylan. But it is very appropriate to close with these words that he wrote more than 50 years ago.

As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’

Post © 2015 Kenneth J. Hirsh

Originally published by Kenneth J. Hirsh at Ipso Facto. Reprinted with permission.

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Web Accessibility Update

The comment period recently closed on the U.S. Access Board’s 508 Refresh proposal that updates Section 508.  Though Section 508 and the 508 Refresh technically apply only to federal agencies, the Justice Department has for many years applied Section 508 web accessibility standards when dealing with other entities.  Section 508 applied part of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 1.0 to Web accessibility. The 508 Refresh incorporates by reference most of WCAG version 2.0 at the AA level of conformance.

The Refresh encompasses more than just Web accessibility and many of the comments dealt with the other issues in it. A few commenters, however, suggested that WCAG 2.0’s criterion for resizing text was insufficient to provide accessibility to low vision users. 

The Justice Department has a pending Notice of Proposed Rulemaking applicable to state and local governments that is likely to adopt WCAG 2.0 AA.  Some AALL member institutions have already adopted WCAG 2.0 AA as policy and at least one has adopted it as policy at the A conformance level (a lower level of conformance than AA).   

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Cool Tools Café Survey 2015

We're excited that the Cool Tools Café will be at the AALL Annual Meeting again this year!

We're looking for suggestions on which technologies to present and volunteers to do a 5-10 min demo of each. If you have ideas along with suggestions on who would be a good presenter (yourself or someone else), please take a moment to complete the Cool Tools Café Survey: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1XT2AQKeBYrsXh8GXgAztnUuh-AtZZVYrQHE7qVKhi-8/viewform.

The Cool Tools Café will feature informal demos of tools, apps, and gadgets that will help librarians create, organize, and deliver information, increase productivity, and connect with users. Last year saw a format change that we will continue this year. Attendees will float between concurrent presentations at demo tables organized around the room. Each presenter's table will feature a 40-inch LCD monitor and 10 chairs. New for this year is a larger space and longer session format to offer attendees more cool tools and an even better experience!

Thank you!

Cool Tools Café 2015 Coordinators

Kara Young & Jackie McCloud 

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