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The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
5/15/2015 10:20:07 AM

Library Outreach Inside the Building

Library Outreach. Does this phrase strike fear in your core? What does it mean? How does a library “outreach” and to whom? Like many academic law libraries, Schmid Law Library (University of Nebraska College of Law) strives to connect with our law students by building good relationships and providing a positive environment for the students during law school and beyond. This semester we’ve informally outreached to our law students via March Madness, National Library Week and research review for student’s working as summer clerks and associates. I’d like to share these programs as examples of successful library outreach opportunities inside the building. 


Law Review March Madness


This is a new program for Schmid Law Library; we borrowed the idea from Klutznik Law Library (Creighton Law School). On the library’s first floor is an under-used bulletin board. It’s been a personal goal to put up a display to improve the space – the “Law Review Madness” event was a perfect fit (and took up almost a month of display needs). Our promotion to the law school included:


Which Law Review will win?! Schmid Law Library is offering Law Review Madness 2015 during this season’s March Madness tournament. We’ll have brackets available on Monday afternoon at the circulation desk for those who want to play along. Completed brackets are due by noon on Wednesday, March 18th to the law library circulation desk. The grand prize is a Golden Ticket for all-day use of a study room of your choice AND bragging rights for winning the first Law Review Madness tourney hosted by Schmid Law Library.


We wanted the entire law school to participate even though students benefitted from winning an all-day use of a study-room. There were 15 total participants, including three faculty and staff. The bulletin board was a hit; many people were impressed with the large bracket and clever law review modification. For example, the Villanova team became the Villanova Law Review, as did Arkansas (Arkansas Law Review). If a March Madness team had a law review associated with the school, we modified the team name only.


National Library Week Celebration


Schmid Law Library hosts a community coffee for the law school each semester, usually on Halloween and Valentine’s Day. This year we decided to host the spring semester community coffee during National Library Week (April 13-17, 2015) to celebrate libraries and connect with our students, faculty and staff. The community coffee involves fruit, breakfast goodies and coffee or tea set up in the library foyer for a meet and greet event. To promote library services, we created a daily quiz highlighting a particular department; Monday was technical services, Tuesday was circulation, Wednesday was Inter-Library Loan (ILL) - even the IT department created a quiz! We gave away a prize box each day including; gift cards to local bookstore, giveaways from our vendors, and office supplies like highlighters. The prize box was a hit, especially with finals around the corner; food is always appreciated and we promoted library services in a creative format. The feedback we’ve received from students has been positive and the quiz winners were excited about the great prize box.




We’ve offered a daylong research event to our students the past four years. This is a refresher on basic legal research skills necessary for their summer jobs as clerks and associates. The training involves several sessions including: starting research tips, administrative law, Nebraska and Federal legislative history research, free and low-cost alternative legal research on the web, and practical tools and tips. The library provides donuts and coffee during the morning and a pizza lunch for students who pre-register. We use a LibGuide for each ResearchPalooza event; it includes the day’s agenda, links to relevant resources, the registration form to RSVP for the event (and lunch) and contact information for the librarians.


Outreach programming can be successful in the building! Fortunately we have a captured audience as our law students spend hours each day in the library. These events are valuable opportunities to continue building good relationships with our law school community by tweaking established programs (the community coffee), trying timely programming (Law Review Madness) and continuing to support our student’s professional careers (ResearchPalooza).



Marcia L. Dority Baker is the Access Services Librarian at the University of Nebraska College of Law, Schmid Law Library in Lincoln, Nebraska. She can be reached via email; mdoritybaker@unl.edu


Posted By Marcia Dority Baker at 5/15/2015 10:20:07 AM  0 Comments
5/15/2015 7:48:39 AM

Up, Up and Away

Last Friday, May 8, I was lucky enough to have a great seat for the WWII-era plane flyover of the National Mall.  My office is in the part of Washington known as Penn Quarter, only a few blocks from the Natural History Museum, so I could go to the building rooftop and, with the help of binoculars that one of my attorney friends had the foresight to bring, I could not only see the planes, but could get a great up-close view of the markings on them.

It was a fun time; several of my colleagues came up to watch, and I was able to chat with both attorneys and staff that I might not otherwise see in the normal course of my workday.   One of the attorneys who came up is new to our office, and I hadn’t really gotten a chance to talk with her at any length.  Because we happened to be sitting next to each other, I was able to hear about her travels in her prior job, and to find out that she had attended Georgetown Law School when I was a reference librarian there.

My positive experience with the flyover has given me a new perspective on a change that’s coming to my work situation.  I’ll be moving out of the library and heading to an attorney floor.  I’ll still be the librarian, and the firm will still have a physical library; I just won’t be sitting in it.  The firm has rented out my office to a sub-tenant, so for lack of another office on that floor (the library is on 2; the attorneys are on 6-8), I’ll be leaving my collection and joining my patrons.

I confess, my first reaction to this move was, “What?  You’re not serious?  That makes no sense!”  I wasn’t sure exactly how I could do my job without ready access to my collection.  Not wanting to sound like I wasn’t a team player, I tried to put a good face on it, but in reality, my head was spinning:  How would I get my work done?  How would I handle the technical services aspects of my job (routing, check-in, shelving books)?  How would I know if a book was on the shelf or not if an attorney asked?  How would I do reference if my collection was an elevator ride away?

Of course, once I’d had some time to think it over, I realized a lot of my job I do in my office.  Most of my reference requests come over the phone or through email, and the few people that come to me in person can just come to a different office.  In fact, they’ll be happy that they don’t have to walk as far to find me!

The tasks that really require me to be handling materials I can do in the morning when I first arrive at work, before most of the attorneys are in need of reference assistance.  As for whether a book is on the shelf or not, well, that will be a bit of an inconvenience, but that’s not an everyday occurrence.

I’ve been paying attention to how often I really need to use the collection since I heard this news a few weeks ago, and it turns out, I mostly use online tools.  Don’t misunderstand me, I still like to page through sets like the U.S. Code or C.F.R. in paper, but I don’t need to do that terribly often.

I also took advantage of the move to clean out a lot of old files.  I smiled as I thought about the classes I’d taught five or ten years ago, but the materials went into the recycling bin all the same.  As it turns out, almost everything I need for that part of my life is online too!  I’m sure when moving day arrives, there will be plenty of boxes and books (not to mention knickknacks) to make the upward journey, but I’ll be flying with a lighter payload, to continue the plane analogy.

Perhaps most importantly, I’ll be much closer to my patrons.  Rather than having to wait for a big event to see people, I’ll run into them on a regular basis.  I’m hoping that this will allow me to be a more integrated part of their team, rather than someone they have to remember to call or email.

Once I’ve settled into my new digs, I’ll give you an update on how this new arrangement is working out.  Whether I’m flying high, or have crashed and burned, I’ll let you know my lessons learned.

For more information on the flyover, including photos and video clips, see this site: http://ww2flyover.org/.

©Susan Ryan, 2015, Librarian, Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, Washington, DC

Posted By Susan Ryan at 5/15/2015 7:48:39 AM  0 Comments
5/8/2015 5:16:57 PM

Recycling De-Selected Materials

Books on a Table Under Free Books SignWith another school year coming to a close many librarians are gearing up for those exciting summer projects that had to wait until a lull in activity after final exams. Libraries are facing increased pressure to slim down collections, thus librarians may find themselves engaged in the process of de-selection this summer. While few librarians take joy and pleasure in weeding collections, the exercise can have certain benefits to the library. Yet it raises a question, what do we do with all those discarded volumes? Few images are as upsetting to a librarian as books stacked in a dumpster headed to a landfill. But what are the alternatives?

  • The May 2008 Member to Member column offered a list of creative suggestions for what to do with undesired books, directed specifically toward law libraries. The lamp made out of law books and other things to do with law books are an unexpected and entertaining option.
  • The Prison Book Program requests donations of "legal dictionaries and basic criminal law" materials, though they cannot accept "legal journals and attorney-level legal reference" materials.
  • Sarah Penniman & Lisa McColl published an excellent article in the Library Journal entitled “Green Weeding: Promoting Ecofriendly Options for Library Discards” (Lexis Academic). This article contains suggestions for libraries including traditional methods such as book fairs, swaps, and donations to local organizations, sending books to Books for America, Books Through Bars, or Better World Books, and trading up through Bookmooch.
  • Discover Books is a service that takes books that libraries no longer want and then determines how the book might best be reused, sold, redistributed, or recycled as a last resort it if there is no other option. By taking charge of this process, Discover Books frees up staff time that librarians might otherwise spend finding books a new home.
  • Weeding on a small scale? At the University of Miami Law Library we have a freebies table (pictured above) near the reference desk. Try starting your own! The library’s discard may be someone else’s treasured new find. And who knows what interesting summer reading students might happen upon as they leave for summer break?

© AJ Blechner, 2015. Reference/Outreach Librarian, University of Miami Law Library, Coral Gables, Florida. ablechner@law.miami.edu.

Posted By AJ Blechner at 5/8/2015 5:16:57 PM  1 Comments