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This blog provides a space for conversations about articles and ideas found in AALL Spectrum, the monthly magazine of the American Association of Law Libraries. The previous blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
7/26/2013 6:42:21 PM

Program Review: F6: When Cookie Cutter Services Won’t Cut It: Brainstorming Services for Public Patrons


Presenters
: Barbara Fritschel Coordinator & Moderator, U.S. Courts Library; Stina Van Patten, Speaker, Public Law Library of King County; Joanne Dugan Colvin, Speaker, University of Baltimore Law Library;  Joan M. Bellistri, Speaker, Anne Arundel County Public Law Library.

Recommended highly for public law librarians and very valuable to all other librarians.

I went to this program hoping to get a couple of new ideas for improving services to public patrons. I also brought some wariness and skepticism about the effectiveness of brainstorming in a large group. I am pleased to report that Ileft the program with dozens of new ideas for providing services to public patrons, a new adjective phrase “individuals without attorneys,” and a used new rocking brainstorming tool.

You can read the ideas generated during the brainstorming session in the new member created community, “Services to the Public” on AALLNET, in the document library, http://community.aallnet.org/Communities/Resources/ViewDocument/?DocumentKey=6fb1fd5d-505c-4b48-86d2-b96ea2902d32 

Stina Van Patten from King County public law library gave a nice overview of the challenges involved with creating podcasts. A podcast of her presentation, “Wonder What it Takes to Produce a Podcast?” is available on the King County Law Library site http://www.kcll.org/podcasts/wonder-what-it-takes-produce-podcast . Time constraints did not permit her to go into great detail of the actual workflow of producing and editing a podcast. She did however include references to applications for editing podcasts, GarageBand and Audacity.

Joanne Colvin proposed that we take the individuals from where they are when we began teaching them legal research. Namely recognize and accept the widespread familiarity with Google, embrace Google as a starting point. Teach them how to do legal research on Google, how to evaluate sites, etc. Then instruct them how to use premium databases.

John Bellilstri described how her law library developed a lawyer in the library program for her county law library in Maryland. While this portion provided a good road map for starting a lawyer in the library program I had hoped for something about encouraging bundled legal services. 

Barbara Fritschel wrapped up the presentations with brainstorming using a tool brainwriting. Brainwriting is a quiet brainstorming exercise because only the timekeeper talks. Instead of everyone talking with a scribe recording the ideas, each person writes down three or more ideas on a sheet of paper. At the end of the three minutes the timekeeper tells everyone to stop writing and pass their sheet one person to the left. Then, each person is to add ideas to the new sheet of paper they have in front of them. The ideas can build from ideas on the sheet or can be the same ideas the individual wrote earlier. The timekeeper calls time after three minutes and the process repeats until either everyone has written on every piece of paper or the available time has elapsed. In this manner multiple ideas are collected on each sheet of paper from different individuals in a manner that doesn’t penalize individuals who are reluctant to speak in a group setting.

Note: this portion of the program worked because (1) the room was arranged with round tables instead of theater-style seating, (2) audience members complied with the request to move so that there were 7 people at each table, (3) there was blank sheets of paper at each table.

Instead of having each table report a couple of ideas, the audience agreed to give all their sheets to Barbara with their email addresses so that the work-product could be scanned and emailed to each of the audience members.

In an attempt to continue and build the discussion, I’ve created a member community, "Service to the Public," http://community.aallnet.org/Communities/ViewCommunities/CommunityDetails/?CommunityKey=158 where the documents are posted in the document library. Please visit and join the community, post suggestions and questions - and of course success stories or failures.

This program offered something for all types of law libraries: techniques for reaching their users, teaching legal research to new law clerks and associates, and working with the local bar association and public libraries or public law libraries to create a “lawyers in the library” program in their community.

Posted By Mark Estes at 7/26/2013 6:42:21 PM  0 Comments