July 2, 2001
Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6275
Dear Senator Leahy:
I write to you today as president of the American Association of Law Libraies to request your support for a congressional resolution that would proclaim a National Law Librarians Day to be celebrated annually on July 2nd. On that date in 1906, twenty-four law librarians came together for the first time at a meeting in Narragansett Pier, R.I., and established the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the only national organization dedicated solely to law librarianship.
Since that first meeting almost a hundred years ago, AALL has grown into a thriving professional organization. Today our more than 5000 members nationwide are affiliated with a wide range of over 2000 institutions, including law schools; law firms; the Federal courts; Federal government agencies; state, county and municipal courts and government entities; and corporate legal departments.
The mission of AALL is to support and serve its members, to promote and enhance the value of law libraries, to foster law librarianship, and to provide leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy. Our members and their libraries --whether physical or virtual legal information collections and services--are recognized as critical to the success of their organizations.
In addition, at that very first meeting in Narragansett, our founder A.J. Small recognized the unique role that the law library community could contribute to the information policy arena. This year, AALL has updated our Government Relations Policy that is based on the principle that the ready availability of government and legal information is a necessary requirement for a just and democratic society. AALL and our members are committed to working diligently to ensure fair and equitable public access to authentic, current and historic legal and government information; to preserve the proper balance in copyright law between the interests of owners and users in the digital age; and to protect the personal privacy of our citizens as we move rapidly into a more electronic environment. Law librarians bring special expertise and knowledge to these tasks. We also take very seriously our responsibility to educate and train our library users to be knowledgeable and skilled legal information consumers.
As president of AALL this year, I take great pride in the continued growth of the association and in our many accomplishments. I have enclosed for your information two recent publications that describe in more detail the work of our dedicated members, their contributions to the legal profession and AALL�s active participation in federal and state legislative issues. Our annual report, 2000-2001 Year in Review, summarizes our growth and some of our special achievements during the past year, including our legislative accomplishments, the expansion of our very successful regional professional development opportunities and AALL�s Competencies for Law Librarians. Enclosed as well is our new Strategic Plan, Leadership for the 21st Century: New Realities, Changing Roles that we began implementing last year. I believe you will find it an ambitious framework for the important goals we have developed to make AALL a more vibrant and thriving professional organization for our members.
Sen. Leahy, we are pleased to have the opportunity to make this request of you, as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. You are a true friend of libraries and a stalwart champion of public access and the Right-to-Know. You have sponsored important legislation to expand and improve public access to government information for which we are most grateful. These measures include the GPO Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act and amendments to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act, particularly the Electronic Freedom of Information Act that provides for public access to information in an electronic format. We also thank you for your sponsorship of S. 487, the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2001 that has passed in the Senate and we hope will be enacted this year.
Lastly, as a graduate of Georgetown University Law School, where I have been Director of the Law Library and Professor of Law since 1982, you have a special appreciation for the knowledge, expertise and commitment that law librarians bring to their profession. We ask your support for a resolution proclaiming an annual Law Librarians Day to be celebrated on July 2nd and thank you very much for your consideration in this matter. Please let me know how we might be able to assist you in this effort, and I look forward very much to hearing from you.
Robert L. Oakley
American Association of Law Libraries