AALL Spectrum Blog

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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.
7/26/2013 6:42:21 PM

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

: 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
7/26/2013 4:49:07 PM

Session Review: B6: Linked Data: The New Bibliographic Framework in the Post-MARC World

As a public services librarian who never took a cataloging course, this session was both interesting and a little intimidating. Fortunately, the speakers explained linked data in a way I could understand and even get excited about. Linked data is information that standardized in such a way that computers can connect bits of information that are distributed across a variety of databases. Linked data can be reused in ways other than for which the information was originally collected. With linked data, librarians could pull in additional information to augment catalog records and, since the data is standardized, search across more databases.

To make this possible, the Bibliographic Framework Initiative (BIBFRAME) is working develop a new model for catalog data so that the information in library catalogs can be used as linked data. This will require changes for catalogers and integrated library systems. The only shortcoming of this otherwise great session was that it appears BIBFRAME is not yet fully developed or supported by most ILSs. I think librarians should learn more about linked data and watch for future developments so they are prepared when it is time to take more concrete steps to realize linked data's potential. 

Posted By Benjamin Keele at 7/26/2013 4:49:07 PM  0 Comments
7/26/2013 4:23:32 PM

Session Review: AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers: The Librarian as Author

This session featured talks by the winners of the 2013 AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers competition. Before the winners gave their talks, Joel Fishman of the Duquesne University Center for Legal Information and the Allegheny County Law Library and a prolific author, gave a brief talk on the value of scholarship for law librarians. He said research and writing was enjoyable and a good way to learn more about law and librarianship. He advised writing about anything one finds interesting, but emphasized that state legal history has not received sufficient attention yet.

Joe Gerken, winner of the Open division, spoke about his paper on the development of the first American case reporters, digests, and citators. He noted that these tools were developed in a very short period of time and have remained relatively stable to the present. Some of first American court reporters were surprisingly colorful characters. Gerken noted that his paper is built on the work of many scholars who came before him.

Catherine Lemmer, winner of the New Member division, spoke about her paper on used a flipped classroom strategy to teach legal research to LLM students. She said her students had trouble transferring and generalizing their legal research skills to unfamiliar problems. She found a more effective approach was delivering instruction through recorded talks and reading, and then asking students to work together on research problems during class. This approach stimulated more critical thinking, communication, and problem solving. She noted that research indicates a combination of online and in-person instruction has the best outcomes, and this flipped classroom approach provides that combination.

Mari Cheney, winner of the Short Form division, talked about her paper on a legal research boot camp administered at her school. The legal research boot camp was a concentrated and compact program of basic legal research instruction for 1L in their first semester. She described how the boot camp was administered and lessons she and her colleagues have learned to improve their legal research instruction.

Kristen Hallows, winner of the Student division, gave a talk based on her paper on in-house classification schemes in law libraries. Her paper was inspired by her practicum at the Ohio Attorney General Office' library. The library implemented an in-house classification scheme that grouped legal and non-legal materials together by subjects they shared. For example, materials on health law were shelved with medical texts. She described how law libraries classified their materials before Library of Congress issued Class K and how LC classification spread to most law libraries. Hallows suggested that for some collections, like the Ohio AG's library, an in-house classification may increase use of print materials and be more intuitive for researchers.

Winning papers can be found here, and more information on the Call for Papers competition can be found on AALLNet.

Posted By Benjamin Keele at 7/26/2013 4:23:32 PM  0 Comments