1999 has arrived and several important countdowns have begun. Y2K doomsayers are already nervously watching the clock, Melrose Place devotees are savoring the last episodes of the show’s final season, law librarians everywhere are making preparations for what could be the most attended Annual meeting of all time, this summer’s "At the Crossroads: Information Management, Technology, and Policy" meeting in Washington, DC, and I am working to finish up some projects before turning over the "stuffed lamb"* to Steve Anderson.
I am pleased to report that LLAM has been involved in its share of preparations for this year's annual meeting. LLAM has teamed up with VALL (Virginia Association of Law Libraries) to co-sponsor a snack break at the Paraprofessional Forum, a one day program that will be held on Monday, July 19th. Signs indicating LLAM’s and VALL’s sponsorship will be posted on the tables during the break, and brochures and membership applications for both organizations will be available. Both organizations will also be listed as sponsors in the Paraprofessional Forum and Annual Meeting Programs. In addition to receiving good publicity for our organizations, hopefully LLAM and VALL will attract some new members.
Is a staff member at your library planning on attending the Paraprofessional Forum? If he/she is please remember that LLAM will be holding a drawing for a registration grant for a paraprofessional from a LLAM member library to attend the July 19th event. To enter the drawing, please submit names to me by April 15th.
The LLAM Board needs your input in preparing to select Chapter VIPs for the Annual Meeting. The Chapter VIP program provides two free registrations for LLAM to use to send two local VIPs (non-law librarians, who are in positions of influence, e.g. law school deans, judges, partners, state legislators, etc.).
Please send your recommendations to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone me at 410-887-6042. Sending VIPs to the meeting is an excellent way for LLAM to establish working relationships with individuals that may help us achieving and furthering the goals of our organization.
As my term of Presidency winds down, there are two projects I would like to have completed before the end of May: the County Code Checklist and the LLAM Brochure. After a few unforeseen delays, the County Code Checklist project is up and running again. I have volunteers for Baltimore County and Prince George’s County. Volunteers are needed for Allegheny, Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester. My goal is to have the Checklist available at the Spring Fling, therefore I need LLAM members to pitch in and volunteer as soon as possible.
I am also asking for your assistance in revising the LLAM Brochure so that a new, updated version will be available in time to give out at our booth at the Annual Meeting and at the Paraprofessional Forum. If you are interested in critiquing the draft of the revised brochure, please let me know and I will fax you a copy.
Thanks in advance for your input and assistance on the above mentioned programs and projects. Enjoy the countdown (hopefully brief) to Spring-like weather. See you at the next educational program!
*If you are interested in being the caretaker of the "Stuffed lamb" (a.k.a. being LLAM President) or serving with the caretaker, please see Anne Morrison’s note re: nominations, below).
The AALL Annual Meeting always has provided the opportunity for law librarians to experience a variety of educational experiences – from one and two hour programs that are focused on specific narrow issues to one day workshops allowing a broader review of issues to multi-day institutes that provide the opportunity for intensive examination of the issues facing law librarians. The 1999 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., "At the Crossroads: Information Management, Technology, and Policy," will offer
attendees over 70 programs, six workshops, and a new event -- a one-day paraprofessional forum. This article focuses on the educational opportunities offered by the workshops and paraprofessional forum.
The Paraprofessional Forum is designed to address the issues facing law library paraprofessional staff. The one-day seminar is designed to provide practical training and guidance in what is often unmapped territory. Practical skills such as time management, communication, and customer service as well as management and technology issues will be covered. Two program sessions are scheduled during each time slot, allowing a choice of topic or skill level. Speakers will be law librarians from Washington, D.C. area academic and private libraries. The ultimate goal is to provide library paraprofessionals with practical information that will help in their day-to-day job performance. Consider the valuable experience and training your support staff could receive during this new educational offering.
The 1999 Annual Meeting will feature six one-day workshops, many emphasizing the resources found in Washington, D.C. From reference to management, the workshops feature in-depth discussion and analysis of the critical needs of tomorrow's law librarians. The globalization of the world's economies and the related legal information needs make "Meet the Legal Specialists" a special opportunity. This workshop provides the chance to meet with and learn from the foreign legal research staff at the Library of Congress. Specialists will review specific vernacular sources and will compare commercial and official sources, offering guidance for evaluating resources as well as having specific research problems addressed by the experts.
Taking advantage of GPO's presence in Washington, the "GPO Depository Library Workshop" will provide a behind the scenes tour of the GPO's Library Programs Service, along with demonstrations of GPO Pathways, GPO Access, and the Federal Bulletin Board. The workshop will provide an orientation to the acquisition, claims, classification and inspections process for librarians working in depository libraries.
During the past decade, information policy issues have gained prominence on Capitol Hill. With the advent of the Internet and electronic publishing, issues that previously concerned only librarians are now at the forefront of the political agenda. The workshop, "Law Librarians Meet the 106th Congress," will provide participants with an update on key issues and lessons in the how-tos of legislative advocacy. Visits to the offices of selected members of Congress will highlight the day. This is your chance to gain valuable lobbying skills from experts and to make your voice heard.
Is your library facing a decision on a new or second generation integrated online library system? If so, "All Systems Are Not Created Equal ..." is the workshop for you. Featuring a panel of speakers, participant roundtables and demonstrations of the latest online systems, the workshop will cover the ins and outs of choosing a new system. Among the topics to be covered are methods of review, evaluation and selection, cost-benefit analysis, benchmarking, RFIs and RFPs, time lines, staff resources and training. Each participant will have the opportunity to develop a needs assessment plan based on local needs.
As we all know, good web sites do not remain static. They are always being updated and improved. Perhaps your intranet web site is due for an overhaul or you are ready to go beyond static content and navigational tools. "Second Generation: The Advanced Intranet Web Site" can help. New, refined tools for knowledge sharing can expand the information retrieval capability of your web site. The workshop will examine internal and external content opportunities and will teach the use of the latest concepts and software for advance intranet content and design.
The multi-office merger mania that affects law firms today has long reaching effects on the management of law libraries. Have you found yourself managing library branches that are hundreds (if not thousands) of miles apart? The workshop, "Managing Multi-Location Libraries", could provide just the guidance and reassurance you need.
Featuring extensive hands-on activities designed to fine-tune or re-tool your policies and procedures, this will be one of the most practical workshops you have ever attended. Participants will analyze the role of the managing librarian in firm management, evaluate staff responsibilities across libraries and positions, examine collection management plans, and assess current services and communication tools.
The Program Announcement for the Annual Meeting was distributed to AALL members with the December issue of Spectrum. If you are not an AALL member and would like to receive the announcement and the preliminary program with complete registration information, contact AALL (email@example.com or 312-939-4764) and ask to be added to the mailing list. We hope to see you "At the Crossroads" in Washington, this July.
On January 22, LLAM members trekked to Gordon, Feinblatt to hear Mary Alice Baish discuss the role of grass-roots activism in creating positive information policy legislation at the Federal, state, and local levels. Baish, AALL's Assistant Washington Affairs Representative, has many years of experience in lobbying Congress and Federal agencies on behalf of the library community.
Baish outlined four key current Federal legislative trends. Database protection legislation seems to be the top legislative priority. As it now stands, publications that include "mere facts" lack copyright protection. Large database creators, such as Westlaw and Reed-Elsevier, demand additional protection for these systems, saying that database creation is quite expensive. Second, last year's Digital Millennium Copyright Act punted several issues into the regulatory arena. Consequently, library groups must watch issues such as distance education copyright guidelines. Third, library groups will continue to track the course of Federal Depository Library Programs under Title 44, paying special attention to electronic information formats.
Lastly, the AALL Washington Office is keeping a close eye on the appellate proceedings of Matthew Bender v. West Publishing Company, No. 97-7910 (2nd Cir. Nov. 3, 1998) <http://www.hyperlaw.com/appeal1.htm>, in which the Second Circuit struck down West's copyright claim to its "star pagination."
Baish further offered assistance in providing lobbying advice to LLAM should we choose to create our own "Government Relations Committee." The AALL encourages such a chapter committee, and many other chapters, such as the Law Library Association of Greater New York (LLAGNY), have instituted them. These local chapter committees can track local legislation better than the AALL and have been instrumental in contributing to legislative debates in California and New York. Even smaller chapters, she stressed, could make positive changes by networking with other library and bar associations.
In fact, one such issue appeared on the Maryland legislative horizon at the time of Baish's visit. Last year, the General Assembly, backed by the Maryland State Bar Association, narrowly defeated a proposal that would have ensured free, online access to the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR).
Since then, Sen. Hogan (R-Montgomery Co.) has reintroduced the legislation as SB 259 (http://mlis.state.md.us/1999rs/billfile/sb0259.htm). However, the current version includes substantial limitations on commercial use of state government information that run counter to unrestricted access to government information.
LLAM members have been in touch with the MSBA Director of Legislative Relations, Buzz Winchester. As of press time, Winchester claimed that these limitations were in the process of being significantly edited to make the bill more amenable to legal practitioners. The MSBA and LLAM ultimately hope to support a "free COMAR" bill that does not include such use restrictions.
The General Assembly has scheduled a hearing on the bill for February 26th. LLAM Past-President, Anna Cole, will testify if circumstances warrant.
As local and Federal legislative bodies devote increasing attention to online information access and behaviors, the library community seems to be finding itself at the heart of the debate. This whole new online world tends to politicize librarians more than we ever have been. No longer are we concerned merely about funding; we now increasingly deal with free speech issues, access to digital government information, and institutional access to inexpensive telecommunications backbones. At the same time, the publishing industry is becoming highly consolidated; individual publishers may wield government-like powers.
To help guide its members through this new information world, LLAM will consider the creation of a Standing Committee on Government and Vendor Relations. If you would like to work on this committee, please e-mail Steve Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone him at 410-576-4255.
Spring is just around the corner, and this year’s LLAM Election will be here before you know it! LLAM’s Nominating Committee will soon be searching for those candidates with the "right stuff" to help guide LLAM into the 21st Century!
LLAM is a relatively small chapter in comparison to some within AALL, but all of us rallied together two years ago to prove that we had the ability to show AALL members just how fabulous Maryland, and our law librarians can be! LLAM needs more of that spirit to take us forward – this is your time to act!
Truthfully, participating as a LLAM Officer or Board Member takes just a small portion of your time in comparison to the great rewards you’ll receive. We all help one another each day via ILL’s and reference assistance. Why not carry that giving spirit just one small step further?
Speaking from personal experience, I highly recommend becoming an active participant with LLAM. As a Board Member, you have an opportunity to expand your role as a law librarian. I enjoyed being a Board Member for several years, then had the privilege of serving this organization as President four years ago.
Beginning this year, one of the "perks" of becoming Vice President/President-Elect for LLAM is that LLAM will pay for that individual’s Registration Fee to attend the AALL Annual Meeting! How’s that for a "benefit of office?"
When a member of this year’s Nominating Committee approaches YOU and asks you to run in this year’s election, say YES! You will be glad you did!
It is ironic that after all these years of the layman complaining that attorneys had their own language, and therefore secrets, the attorney is now in the layman's shoes. While the lawyers were off at court speaking Legalese, a new club infiltrated their office spaces and took over the very basic functions of their work. New ways to create, change, store, send and reproduce information were put in place, and in order to operate them, a new language was created.
As laymen would run to an attorney when they needed legalese explained or a legal problem solved, now attorneys are beating down a path to the IT department every time they need tech language clarified or a tech problem solved. It is actually more desperate than the layman's lot, for the very functionality of an attorney can be halted with one computer virus, whereas a layman had to wait around for a lawyer to help them anyway. For an exclusive club that was used to being in charge because they knew all of the rules, you have to admit that this new development must be a very large culture shock for attorneys. They are no longer in charge.
What does that have to do with libraries, you ask? In the mad rush to cyberize the law offices, often libraries are being forgotten. As attorneys and paralegals have gained most types of information at their fingertips, it is less necessary to ask a middleman, or librarian, to obtain the information for them. Why call an Information Specialist when one can go to Yahoo and type in "Maryland law" and find your own answers? As a matter of fact, as long as you are calling the IT Help Desk about your printer, why not ask them how to find that case on Westlaw or Lexis, and just save time? Unfortunately, it is the nature of online information that almost anyone can appear to be an expert at obtaining it. The person who approaches the keyboard quickly, not displaying any fear, searching the first query they can think of-this is the person who is considered the expert in our fast-paced environments. This person is not necessarily the librarian any more. It used to be up to us, the librarians, to know if information obtained was accurate, current, and cost-effective. We were the "quality assurance" of information. Now, the attorney is the expert, or the guy fixing the printer is the expert, or the guy who saw something cool on Yahoo is the expert.
Librarians are the first to admit that claiming to be an expert in online information is ludicrous-- humility is necessary, and learning a constant requirement. There is simply too much stuff out there to know where it all is. But librarians are the ones who really know how to locate anything- that is what we are trained to do. Somehow we need to regain control of the marketplace that belongs to us! For instance, librarians must be the absolute masters of search engines so that when they do come begging, we look impressive. (check out www.searchenginewatch.com and/or attend the SLA Technology Day on March 25th).
Perhaps after the excitement wears off, they will come running back to us. Maybe after they see the bills for inefficient online time, they will seek our advice. But one thing is clear: we must become more computer literate to compete with the techies. Librarians must know the terminology and speak this new language. Do not let the attorneys forget that librarians are quality and not just quantity of information. We learned Legalese, and we can do this!
The LLAM NEWS is published quarterly by the Law Library Association of Maryland, Inc. in September, December, March, and June. Chapter Dues, which include a subscription to the Newsletter, are $20.00 annually.
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