Thursday, July 19, 2007

AALL 2007 Conference - Interesting Workshop Sessions

Over the 3 days of the annual conference of the American Association of Law Libraries that took place earlier this week in New Orleans, I was able to attend 8 or 9 different workshop sessions.

[I also have an earlier post from July 16, 2007 entitled AALL 2007 Conference Sessions describing a session on the evaluation of government websites and one on international legal research]

Here is a description of a few other sessions.

1) Blogging, Disintermediation and the Future of the Law Library

Lawrence Solum, professor at the Univ. of Illinois College of Law and author of the Legal Theory Blog, spoke about the impact of new publishing platforms such as blogs, the Social Science Research Network, bePress, and legal workshop websites and how they contrast with the traditional intermediaries in the law publishing field such as law reviews with their editorial boards and libraries with their indexes, catalogues, and reference services.

Some of the main effects of the disintermediation allowed by the new tools are an acceleration and democratization in the exchange of ideas. Solum mentioned sites such as the SCOTUS Blog that specializes in informed commentary about the Supreme Court of the United States. It offers same day instant analysis of the Court's important rulings.

Solum could also have mentioned the growing number of open access journals as well as the proliferation of so-called online companions to law reviews [see the Library Boy post of April 20, 2007 entitled More Law Journals Adding Blog Companions]

Such content is discoverable via Google (or other search engines), which changes the entire way material gets discovered. The salience of information is now determined by the citation or linking behaviour of readers and users.

As Solum quipped, "the law review is the place articles go to die", and the bibliographic citation for articles is the "marker of the gravestone of interment". We're not there yet of course, but the debate about the future of the law review can only grow more intense as commentators and scholars turn to new modes of writing and communicating (see Library Boy, March 31, 2006, Open Access Publishing and the Future of Legal Scholarship and Library Boy, May 11, 2006, Harvard Blog and Legal Scholarship Conference Update).

In the same session, Gordon Russell, from the Charleston School of Law, discussed new models of collection development involving digital collections such as SSRN, institutional repositories, e-books. Talking about students, he explained that today's users are "Google-oriented" and hate having to search 5 or 6 collections. This requires strategies for the presentation of information involving forms of federated searching, preferably integrating multiple sources into the library's catalogue. If I am not mistaken, Charleston's catalogue allows simultaneous searching of material from Hein Online, Questia, NetLibrary, Google Books, Greenwood Press, etc.

Charleston has gone extremely far down the path of electronic information, with a collection that includes 28,000 print volumes, half of which are case reporters, and digital links to over 300,000 other items.

2) How Law Libraries Can Capture and Preserve Government Web Resources

Cathy Nelson Hartman, of the University of North Texas, described the Web-at-Risk project .

Her institution, in partnership with the California Digital Library and New York University, is involved in a major research project to attempt to understand the collection development processes for material on the Internet and to create tools to support the capture and archiving of Web publications. The project website has reports on current collection activities as well as sample collection development policies and plans from a number of participating institutions. There is also a project wiki.

Project members hope to launch a web archiving tool for the end of 2007 with models and collection plan templates for institutions that may not have the staff or expertise to undertake archiving projects on their own for web-published materials, whether born digital or digitized copies.

The project covers all aspects and issues of collection development for web publications, covering selection, acquisition, item description, version control of items, access and licensing, and preservation.

People may be interested in similar activities in Canada that I have covered in the past here on Library Boy, for instance:


  • Digitization of Early Canadian Government Documents Continues (November 21, 2005): "The non-profit organization Canadiana.org has just received another grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage's Canadian Culture Online program to help it complete its Canada in the Making digitization project (...) Canadiana.org will be able to add a further 250,000 pages ... These will include selected Acts, Debates and Sessional papers from the Colonial period to Confederation, and from 1867 to 1900" [the description page for this project has moved]
  • CALL 2007 Pre-Conference: Managing Digital Collections (May 5, 2007): "The 2007 conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries begins this weekend in Ottawa and continues until Wednesday, May 9, 2007. Today, there was a pre-conference session on Creating and Managing a Digital Collection Project: From policy to technical requirements."
  • Preservation of Web-Based Government Documents in Canada (May 29, 2007): "The Canadian Association of Research Libraries recently released an April 2007 update of a report by Andrew Hubbertz entitled Collection and Preservation of Web-Based Provincial/Territorial Government Publications (...) The update provides a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction description of the current state of affairs relating to the collection and preservation of web-based government information in Canada."
3) Making Connections That Count

This was one of the final sessions, held on the last afternoon and involved very practical descriptions by 3 California librarians of networking and marketing techniques they have tried out that work.

Diane Rodriguez, from Hassard Bonnington LLP, explained how she has been able to expand her network by inviting co-workers from outside the library to meetings on topics of interest to them and by attending presentations given by firm partners. She also suggested finding roles "outside the stacks", for example joining the firm's diversity or charitable giving committees.

Julie Horst, from the University of California Hastings College of the Law Library, suggested that academic law librarians should try to meet "behind-the-scenes people" such as staff from student services or facilities. She also provided tips on how to start up conversations with new networking contacts on campus: introduce yourself, ask specific questions about the other person's job, find things in common. Many of us may wonder how to meet new people and "network", it's actually easier than it appears.

Finally, Carol Henning, Sacramento County Public Law Library, made 2 points.

First, perfect your "elevator speech", the quick explanation of who you are and what you do. She suggested that you need to find out to whom you are speaking and tailor your spiel to who and what they are and why they should care (what's in it for them?).

Secondly, she told the story of how her library needed to create a buzz to market their services to the public of the county and get some press attention. They decided to come up with a novel activity series, spread over one week, related to pets. They had an art show, sessions on emergency pet preparedness, setting up a non-profit animal welfare organization, estate planning for your pet, avoiding canine litigation (avoiding being sued for dog bites), presentations by book authors, readings by "pet psychic" (hey, it's California after all!), a pet adopt-a-thon, and musical entertainment by the "Gecko Band". And they had a "Yappy Hour". It was just off beat enough to attract lots of pet owners and the media to the County Library.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:01 pm

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