2/12/2015 6:00:00 PM
Members Making a Difference
As someone relatively new to the profession, I am often amazed by the charitable work done by librarians and our professional organizations. Last year the Social Responsibility Special Interest Section raised $480 at the AALL Annual Meeting to support the Solar Heating Project. This initiative was created to help “Native American families who are struggling to pay their heating bills and replace ‘dirty’ electricity created from coal-fired power plants with clean solar energy.” In addition, the SR-SIS collected 378 books and $595 for the “Transitions Program of San Antonio Independent School District, which serves homeless students, students in foster care, and at-risk youth.” Finally, the SR-SIS donated toiletries collected from members staying in hotels at the Annual Meeting for the San Antonio’s Family Violence Prevention Services.
I began to wonder what other projects were out there going unnoticed. Were AALL chapters, caucuses, and special interest sections engaging in charitable activities that we all should be aware of? After some inquiry, I found a tradition of service that does the AALL membership proud. Several regional sections including the Chicago Association of Law Libraries, Law Librarians of New England, and New Jersey Law Librarians Association even have committees devoted specifically to community service work. I’d like to thank everyone who provided details about their efforts, and share some of the work these organizations are doing. Here are some of the charitable activities I discovered:
- At the joint holiday party for the Atlanta Law Libraries Association and Special Libraries Association of Georgia, members, affiliates, and friends purchased gifts from a wish list for eighteen children and parents involved in the Truancy Intervention Project. Each child received three holiday gifts and each parent a gift card. Members also pledged monetary donations through the organization’s website.
- At its four annual business meetings, the Chicago Association of Law Libraries collected funds and in-kind donations for one or more charities including Honor Flight and the Chicago Food Depository. This year they’ve already collected for Chicago Public School students living in temporary housing and shelters and Open Books, an organization promoting youth literacy.
- Each year at the Law Librarians of Puget Sound annual holiday party, members donate gift cards to residents of Fisher House, a home for military families whose loved ones are hospitalized for illness, disease or injury.
- At many of the New Jersey Law Librarians Association’s events, supplies are collected for different charities. Recipients include 911 Dog and Cat Rescue, Ronald McDonald House, and Morristown Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. At the NJLLA annual holiday party, books and pajamas are collected to benefit the Pajama Program.
- The Southeastern Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries supported the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Knox County in 2014. One committee member even designed a quilt made of law school t-shirts to be auctioned off for funds. In 2015 their recipient will be the Carnegie Center.
- As part of a multi-tiered project to improve access to legal research materials in public libraries Law Librarians of New England and Southern New England Law Librarians Association just wrapped up a year-long book drive.
The Black Caucus also has a very active community service subcommittee. This past year they organized a fundraiser for San Antonio Youth during the AALL annual conference. BCAALL invited an SA Youth representative to attend the annual banquet, where donations were formally presented to the organization. Members donated hundreds of dollars both on the night of the event and online. They also collected in kind donations of school supplies, backpacks, markers, pencils, pencil sharpeners, crayons, pens, highlighters, notebooks, folders, tablets, glue, and a host of other items.
Several chapters are finding opportunities to combine charity with member engagement, generating creative ways to give back to their communities. The Chicago Association of Law Libraries organized a team to participate in "Run for Their Lives," a 5K race to benefit PAWS. They hope to organize another team to participate in a similar event this summer. In the Mid-America Association of Law Libraries 1Ls do a service project each year during Orientation as a way to get to know each other and do something positive in their community. This year, MAALL is also launching a new Books to Action Program, where members read the same book on a social issue, and then perform a service project related to the book’s theme. The WestPac Local Arrangements Committee focused on environmental issues deciding to go “green” at their 2014 conference by making environmentally-friendly purchasing decisions and mobilizing their membership to recycle.
Several projects will offer resources and training to public librarians on legal research subjects. The Southern California Association of Law Libraries Public Access to Legal Information Committee will provide sessions on legal research for non-law librarians in 2015, partnering with the City of Temecula Public Library. The Law Librarians of New England plan to launch a web portal in 201 5 to help connect public librarians with support by providing research tutorials, best practices and resources. The LLNE service committee will create new content to be featured on this new digital platform.
There are also a few organizations that work with youth to encourage an interest in the legal profession. The Southern California Association of Law Libraries created an Inner City Youth Internship Program, providing “employment opportunities to qualified inner city high school students in private, public and academic libraries as well as other related institutions.” In March the Dallas Association of Law Librarians will volunteer at the Texas High School Mock Trial Competition to support local high school students with an interest in law. Additionally, the Colorado Association of Law Libraries raises funds each year for a scholarship offered to help a library student pursuing their degree.
We should be proud of the work librarians and our professional groups are doing to give back to the community. Why not try a new project this year? Have a project completed in 2014 or coming up in 2015 that deserves a mention? Share it in the comments section!
© AJ Blechner, 2015. Reference/Outreach Librarian, University of Miami Law Library, Coral Gables, Florida. email@example.com.
Posted By 2/12/2015 6:00:00 PM
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