AALL Spectrum Blog

  • Bookmark and Share

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.
5/6/2016 11:00:00 AM

DIGITAL EXTRA "Leveraging E-records Peer Pressure: One Library's Experience" | AALL Spectrum | May/June 2016 | Volume 20, Number 5

Leveraging E-records Peer Pressure: One Library's Experience

Created by: Carol Ottolenghi, Pari Swift, Nathan Owens, and Angie Crandall

Like many government agencies and public universities, the Ohio Attorney General's Office (AGO) is required by statute to have a records manager with attendant policies and retention schedules. Unfortunately, statutory requirements and universal acceptance are not synonymous. In fact, librarians may be the only people within an organization who truly understand the value of organized, well-weeded records.

The AGO records management team is nothing if not tenacious (they are librarians, after all). With time and guidance, many of the AGO practice groups developed records processes specific to their needs, which has led records, data services, and the library to tap into the AGO staff's competitive nature. With senior management support, they held an E-Records Fair in honor of Electronic Records Day. Records invited practice groups with innovative solutions to create games or displays that mirrored each group's specific records challenge.

Fair-goers were given cards to get stamped at the different game booths. Cards with seven stamps were eligible for a gift-card drawing. A few of the games and displays are described below. They can be adapted for staff or students of almost any organization.

Naming Conventions
Environmental cases can last decades. Legal and administrative staff can completely turnover during that time. So, the environmental practice group's records challenge was to name their files so that people with no knowledge of the case could find all relevant information quickly. The game was simple in concept, and could be played by multiple people at the same time.  Everyone was given paper, pen, and the same description of a file. They had one minute to name the file. They could not talk or look at what others were writing. Then, participants compared the names and discovered for themselves the value of naming conventions.

“Rusty Mountain” and Other Displays
Taking a page from Disney World's playbook, the records department gave fair-goers something to look at while waiting in line for food, by creating a “Rusty Mountain” mural that gave a visualization of the mountain of email and other e-records that needed to be migrated to the AGO’s document management system. The AGO's Bureau of Crime Investigation made a display that portrayed what a given number of bytes in e-records translates to in paper. The display pictured reams of paper stacked against a backdrop of the Empire State Building.

Data Security Duck Pond
Sound records management has enormous implications for data security. Data Services and ITs Security sections teamed up to present a data security duck pond. Several dozen yellow ducks floated in a child's wading pool. Each duck had a data or e-records security question written on the bottom. Participants picked a duck, answered the question and received candy.

E-Records Land
The Library created a game board that highlighted how e-records management (or mismanagement) can affect e-discovery and data integrity. Game cards included:

  • You are maintaining expired case files due to the reference value of one of the briefs instead of weeding and reclassifying that document. Move back one space.
  • You agree to produce specific types of documents in specific formats without verifying with IT that this is possible. You spend nine percent of your organization’s budget and STILL fail to produce. Get hit with sanctions; move back four spaces UNLESS you can name this famous e-discovery case.
  • You have not been following your retention schedules by deleting records in a timely manner. Due to a legal hold, your section is now spending $5,000 more annually to maintain these records for the duration of the legal hold. Move back three spaces.
  • Your client follows its record retention policy consistently. Some potentially harmful documents were destroyed prior to litigation becoming an issue. The judge agrees that destruction is defensible. Move ahead three spaces and give your client a high-five.

The E-Records Land cards were tailored for the AGO. The cards—like all of the E-Records Fair events—can be adapted for staff or students of almost any organization.

Posted By Heather Haemker at 5/6/2016 11:00:00 AM  0 Comments
4/20/2016 9:13:50 AM

Book Review: The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts

Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind, The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, Oxford University Press, 2015, 346 pages, inclusive of appendices, bibliography, and index, Hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-19-871339-5 

Richard Susskind has previously written and spoken extensively on the future of law and the legal profession. Here he’s written a new book along with his son who is an economics professor at Oxford. Because of Susskind’s past scholarship in this area, this was a book I knew I had to look at and one you will probably want to skim, if not read through. You will probably want to have this book available in your library purely on the author’s reputation. Lawyers and academics in law will want to know what’s here.

This is not a book about law or lawyers. The Future of the Professions is about trends across the information professions generally. Information professions aren’t defined clearly. Characteristics of an information profession are high levels of specialized knowledge for practitioners, admission based on credentials, government regulation on activities, and a common set of values among practitioners. Examples include clergy, professors, architects, and management consultants, as well as lawyers. But lawyers are such a small portion of the book that this isn’t about understanding the legal profession.

What this book was good for is getting an overview of technology trends affecting all kinds of skilled work. It was helpful for updating my knowledge of technology trends outside of the legal profession. It brushes on diverse topics from downloadable plans for 3D printed houses which have actually been printed and assembled, to MOOCs, to religions using social media to organize. I found it a great tour of new technologies. As you might imagine the topic is so ambitious that coverage can’t be in-depth. Instead, coverage is broad, and copious footnotes get you to the more detailed information. For most technologies, the footnotes even give you a link to download printable house plans, view a social network, or see the webpage of a corporation providing services in an area. In contrast to previous books by Susskind, this book is not gloom and doom and instead presents technology as powerful and pervasive. The tone is upbeat.

A pleasant surprise was the amount of content dedicated to educational trends. This goes well beyond MOOCs into discussions of costs of education impacting professions, apps for educating autistic children, and learning analytics. One of the authors is a professor, and that may account for the emphasis on how technology is changing education. As librarians, we often work as educators.  We support professors, teach legal research, present CLEs, help pro se patrons find what they need, and guide attorneys in research.

A tremendous positive in this book, given that it’s not about law, is that individual sections or chapters of the book hold up well as stand-alone readings. In fact, for me reading it straight through, some facts or examples repeated and I suspect the book may be intended to be read in portions.  Someone who is casually interested can read the introductory sections, then skim the table of contents for the most relevant sections.

Review by Wilhelmina Randtke, Digital Library Services Coordinator, Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative.

Posted By Wilhelmina Randtke at 4/20/2016 9:13:50 AM  0 Comments
4/19/2016 10:11:43 AM

Book Review: Madam Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal of South Carolina

Burke, W.L., Assey, J.P., O’Connor, S.D., & Ginsberg, R.B. Madam Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal of South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, 2015, 205 pages, inclusive of appendices, bibliography, and index, Hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-61117-692-6

Madam Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal of South Carolina is a biography about the life of Jean Hoefer Toal who was the first woman elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court. Each section is written by someone who knew her through her work as a lawyer, elected official, and the Supreme Court. There is also one section written by her two of her daughters. There isn’t one legal issue addressed in this book but an overview of her life as a lawyer, elected official, and judge.

The book is interesting and it does cover Hoefer Toal’s life. The biggest issue with each section being written by someone new is the repetitive narrative. A number of the sections addressed the same cases she worked on. They didn’t give any new insight into the case.  The new author rehashed what other’s had said about Hoefer Toal’s life. There were some very interesting cases addressed in the book.  One of the cases rehashed in a couple sections was Eslinger v. Thomas where Victoria LaMonte Eslinger, a first-year law student applied to be a page for the South Carolina Senate in 1971.  She was turned down because she was a “girl.” Other sections in the book do cover other cases she worked but the Esling v. Thomas was the case repeated in a number of sections.

Researchers will like the historical value of the book. There are number of sections that delve into the history of South Carolina to illustrate changes Hoefer Toal made when she took a position.  In the tenth section in the book, which is written by Sue Erwin Harper and Elizabeth Van Doren Gray where they talk about how Hoefer Toal’s belief in mentoring led to the creation of the South Carolina Women Lawyer’s Association. The section written by Tina Cundari talked about the history of the courts and when Hoefer Toal became the Chief Justice she modernized the courts.

Madam Chief Justice: Jean Hoefer Toal of South Carolina would probably be best in a law school library and any library in South Carolina. It has a lot of historical value to trace the history of South Carolina courts. It would also be interesting for anyone who wants to read about women and the law. The book gives statistical information on the numbers of women in the law when Hoefer Toal began practicing, won her seat on the Senate, and her election to the Supreme Court.

I personally had a hard time reading the book because there was no organization in it. There is no timeline at all. Each section is written by one or two people and it seems they picked what they wrote about. The section could start with a case she handled later in her career or it could start with her very first case which made it more difficult for me to understand when things were happening in her life and I had to do some additional research to find out. If you just want to read a chapter here and there this book would be an excellent book to pick up. Each section can stand on its own without further reading so if someone was interested in how Hoefer Toal brought the court house into the twenty-first century they could flip to that section and read on that. If they wanted her take on torts they could flip to that section. However, if you are looking for the life story from beginning to current, this is not the book.

Author: Victoria Troemel (vgtroemel@indianatech.edu) is Technical Services Librarian at Indiana Tech Law Library, Fort Wayne, IN.

Posted By Victoria Troemel at 4/19/2016 10:11:43 AM  0 Comments