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25 Years of MichALL, by Linda Smith, US Courts Library

Prepared for the 25th Anniversary Celebration of MichALL
May 4, 2001, Dearborn, Michigan

This compilation has been a labor of love. I have enjoyed reading our 25 years of newsletters and reflecting upon the changes, especially what technology has done to our members.  There is quite a change from what the early leaders had to work with and attempted to accomplish and what our current members are doing today. 

As the newsletters are not entirely a complete or accurate history of our organization and its members' activities, there will likely be some errors or omissions in this report.  It is not my intent to produce a document which is not a true picture our work and efforts as an organization.  As an organization, we have contributed to the legal community, the library community and to each other.  Let's continue the tradition! Linda.


This brief report celebrates the 25 years of the Michigan Association of Law Libraries. In 1949, twelve academic and county law librarians founded Ohio Association of Law Libraries in Columbus, Ohio.  Members joined from Kentucky, Michigan and Indiana so the word Regional was added in 1968 and thus the name: Ohio Regional Association of Law Libraries. In 1999, ORALL celebrated its 50th anniversary.  Members of the Law Librarians of  Metropolitan Detroit and Michigan members of ORALL created MichALL in 1976.

We've come a long way since our first very rough newsletter of December 1977 to our website edition of March, 2001.  Let's look at some of our accomplishments and some of our members.  All members make  contributions to an organization, but others stand out for any number of reasons.

That first newsletter reflected the organization's energy and concerns from local issues (the Detroit Bar Association Library)  to the reorganization of the Library of Congress. Georgia Ann Clark was noted as the past president and Charles Wolfe was the current president.  Barbara Bonge was editor.  Emelyn House and Georgia served as executive board members. Pat Cupoli was treasurer and Marjorie Wilcox was our secretary.  Linda Schweizer was Vice President and Karen Moss was on the executive board and also served as membership director.

It was under Karen's watch that the first directory of Michigan Law Libraries would appear in the State Bar Journal (November 1977).

In 1978, Charles Wolfe wrote to Al Coco, the President of AALL, inviting AALL to hold the conference in Detroit in 1982.  Our newsletters remain rich with information about current  political topics and events and legislation that effects libraries.  You see this tradition throughout the 25 years.  During 1978 the reproduction of a telegram sent-signed by 44 members of  MichALL- opposing restructuring of the Library of Congress was received by Lucien N. Nedzi, Chair of Congressional Joint Committee on Library of Congress. Included is a summary of the hearing.  That year we gave the first life membership award at our luncheon on May 5, 1978 to Charlotte Dunnebache, State Law librarian, who had retired with accolades from all branches of government as well as law library associations. 

The focus of our fall meeting was: 'AACR2: it was about cataloging.' AALL praised Em House and Margaret Leary for their work in the passage of PL 95-261, the Law School Library Depository bill.  We had 76 members and Marjorie Wilcox was doing a space study for the Grand Rapids Bar Library.  A lot of work and effort went into the issue of state approved CEU credits for educational programs.  In fact, the Michigan Interorganizational Committee for Continuing Library Education (MICCLE) approved our Spring meeting for 2 CEU.  The topic was researching State Legislative History and 134 people attended. (See Law Library Journal Winter 1979, 72 LLJ 47). MICCLE asked if our application could be used as the sample application. Thanks went to Peter Kempel. 

In 1985, MichALL would withdraw its membership from MICCLE deciding it is not benefiting our members and not interested in approved library educational programs  for continuing  education units. By the end of that year, the concern was: what are the advantages and disadvantages of seeking Chapter status with AALL.  When the ballots were returned, we were a chapter of AALL and the dues increase was approved to $7.50.  We needed Chapter status to officially sponsor the AALL conference.

There were 10 Lexis terminals in Michigan, and the Grand Rapids Bar Association installed Westlaw in 1980.  Changes were starting.  Bernice Frank asked for interested members to help with local arrangements for AALL in Detroit in 1982.  There would be a joint meeting of MichALL/ORALL in 1980 at the Renaissance Center as a dry run preparation. MichALL members were out training and educating other librarians across the state, some examples are: Dick Beer taught Librarians and the Law to public librarians; Lane Fichtenau explained acquisitions of law materials; Peter Schanck lectured on Legal advice and legal reference; Charles Wolfe conducted a crash course on legal bibliography to Branch County Law Libraries and Dick, Lane and Kathleen Friedman conducted a workshop on the use of  legal research materials for Flint librarians.  Later in 1985, the State law librarians put on a 2 day legal research workshop for Michigan prison librarians as law library service was mandated in Michigan prisons. Trainers were Charles Wolfe, Barbara Vaccaro and Ruth Dukelow.

GODORT was established in October of 1978. Government Documents Round Table of Michigan was affiliated with ALA.  Purpose: to promote effective use of publications issued by all levels of government.  Charles Wolfe becomes State Law Librarian and Duncan Webb becomes Assistant in 1980.  Roger Jacobs, U.S. Supreme Court Librarian, was honored by U of M School of Library Science. He was director of U of D Law school from 1962-1967 and then University of Windsor until 1972.

A change of status of the law library within the State Library was needed. A Bill was introduced to make the State Library an arm of the legislature, similar to Library of Congress and a new location was investigated. Copy of the MichALL resolution in support of Senate Bill 200 to move State library from Dept of Education jurisdiction to control of legislature. PA 114 of 1983 amended PA 540 and put the library in legislative council.  You will also find a copy of a letter from MichALL to State Board of Education urging release of report about State Law library Meeting the Information Needs of Michigan. The 225 page report did become available.

MichALL initiates creation of Michigan Register (HB 4133 2/14/79) PA 413 passes and a monthly publication begins in 1984.

What are some of the regular features in our newsletter that continue through today: job placement information; new member information; who is serving on what committee; what a particular committee does; thoughtful reports and summaries of programs presented at conferences; annual spring and fall meetings, the location and topics; news from Detroit, news from Grand Rapids; information about MichALL/ORALL joint breakfast meetings at AALL and this year, the joint luncheon meeting; and forms to volunteer for committee work and pay your dues and submit information for the newsletter.

In 1980 Barbara Bonge, our editor, reminded us to mark our calendars as MichALL News Day  - the day to submit information for the newsletter....this is still a great idea. We needed a logo.  We had a rough hand drawn picture of the state of Michigan. Membership goes up and down during the course of any association, Lorraine Lorne, Chairperson of membership committee reported 75 member in 1980 and 93 members in 1982.   Charles Wolfe wrote about investigating the possibilities of a Michigan legal database. He wanted to see the Administrative Code, Attorney General Opinions, Executive Orders, and the Michigan Compiled Laws on-line.  Instant bill status was also a desired feature.  But it was not a good time for state funding.  It has been nearly 20 years, but we have a similar web site now! Also in 1981, the MichALL directory of members was produced using a word processor which made the editing and corrections much easier.

Well, here we go...from now on we see the focus on technology as our fall meeting in 1981 was Computer Projects for your Library. Everything, however,  was not high tech....the U. of M. Law Library was moved in August of 1981 at the rate of 14,000 books per day.

In 1982, Bernice Frank was local arrangements and Margaret Leary formulated  the program for AALL here in Detroit: Interlink 82. The newsletter contains copies of bills pending in the state legislature that effect libraries.  In 1983 our constitution was changed to allow institutional/association  memberships.  Kathy Friedman presented a plaque to Barbara Bonge for 5 years of service as editor of our newsletter.  Duncan Webb, the current president is leaving for a law library post in California.  In keeping with tradition that officers often leave Michigan after having served on the MichALL board....is it a blessing or a curse! 

The ORALL/MichALL joint meeting was Emerging Technologies for Law Librarians and Computers - Tools for Today and Tomorrow. The newsletter is full of news of emerging computer capabilities. Margaret Leary writes that she found the Richard Boss lecture at the joint meeting very timely and useful as she was working on a long range automation plan.  It is noted that a microcomputer costs about $10,000.  More articles about automation, for example, Ann Kondack writes 'Perils and Pitfall in Library Automation: The Automation  Contract.' A new feature is added: searching non-legal databases.  It seems that by 1984 the organization begins to ask for input, for help and for participation by its members. Two telefacsimile machines are installed at the Michigan State Law Library and then Cooley. 

Hot topics become union lists and learning how to use OCLC. Dick Beer wrote an article summarizing his trip around the world visiting law libraries is a must read feature! (Distributed at 25th anniversary meeting) Dick stressed our access to legal materials and reminded us of our privileges.  This was much like the reflections of Kathleen Gamache upon her return from AALL in Washington, D.C. years later in 1999.

At  Wayne State University Law School Library automation plans are nearly completed;  areas have been renovated.  Here was an understatement: staff continued to be overworked but challenged (Margaret Heinen, Marriane Maher, Lida Keem and Georgia Clark).

More hot topics: formats, microforms.  Later we see CD-ROM becomes the hot topic for format.   The State Library will get a new building. Charles Wolfe reproduces an article for our newsletter which was read at AALL conference in Detroit in 1922. (It was included in distributions at our 25th anniversary meeting).  In 1985,  in Dearborn, we had a meeting consisting of several topics, among them: telefax document delivery, computer assisted legal research, and microfiche.  In 1987, the AALL Winter Institute was about creating and maintaining in-house databases.  The idea becomes real that there will be regional meetings in the fall, perhaps every other year.  In 1987, the meeting was in New York and 13 members were able to attend. By 1989, the Chicago regional meeting was in lieu of our traditional fall meeting.  There goes tradition!  Now our fall get together is a dinner meeting with a speaker from AALL.  MichALL has one annual meeting a year in the Spring.

The fall of 1988 brings  MichALL to Lansing for a tour of the new Library of Michigan. Our topic was: Computer Software on the Lawyers Desk, including software demonstrations. Bernice Frank and Marjorie Wilcox, both active members since 1976, become life members.

We are 115 members in 1989.  Again a call goes out in the June 1991 newsletter that people are not submitting articles. Reasons given by members: very busy, understaffed, and  over worked. We have 149 members but less participation.  Cooley has INNOPAC, an on-line catalog and dial up instructions are included in our newsletter.  In 1992, the fall dinner was nearly cancelled due to lack of interest.   However, lack of interest, as reported in the newsletter was probably not the real culprit - everyone is stressed out!  So many librarians need to keep the traditional procedures going while implementing the new technological ways... learning and using automation with no increase in staff. In 1993 the Spring dinner was cancelled due to low registration. The reason given: busy schedules of members.  Our new president, Judith Anspach wants to know why. In the president letter section of the newsletter she asks for a call around to see what changes need to be made.  She also lists the responsibilities that need to be fulfilled according to AALL guidelines.  Shortly after this, Judith leaves for a position in New Mexico.

Marianne Maher becomes President and begins her term with a passionate President letter outlining how change has made our time more limited and more valuable.  She then outlines what is to be gained from our association.  She creates a communication pattern where each committee will have a liaison member from the executive board; help communication efforts and goal setting for specific projects.  The vice president is Mary Lou Calvin and the Secretary is Joan Byerly. Treasurer is Kathleen Gamache. If I had to pick one member who stands out above all others, it would be Kathleen Gamache.  She is always there for the organization; serving in whatever capacity is needed. She is also the consummate professional in assisting other librarians). Also, the newsletter states Maria Brummel-Schutte is our new enthusiastic newsletter editor.

When you reach this point in the MichALL newsletters, having seen the focus, time and energy of its members nearly spent, you wonder if MichALL will continue; will it be able to accomplish goals?  Then ORALL requests MichALL's cooperation and assistance with planning and executing the November meeting. Committees merge. Board approved financial support for design of logo...we haven't had one since 1988.

It is 1994 and U of D hooks up to the internet.  The spring meeting is a success. And the logo is the state of Michigan with the scales of justice.  Job ads begin to require proficiency in Lexis and WESTLAW.  A continuing education  calendar is now included in the newsletter.  Dick Beer retires and is awarded life time membership and a plaque.

Mary Lou Calvin, our new president  for 1994, gives thanks to Marianne Maher in her president letter and states that MichALL has been revitalized under Marianne's leadership.  We all give thanks.  Mary Lou says: Make time for MichALL. You'll be glad you did. Marie Wolfe reports that 3 companies are producing Michigan cases on CD-ROM. There is a discussion of the TEXACO case: fair use defense to copyright infringement.  We now have an Internet committee and publish a bibliography of selected materials.  Mary Lou speaks at the Grand Rapids Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education program on: Technology and the Law: Use it or Get Left Behind.   Our current focus: internet and CD-ROM.  66 members attend the Spring 1995 meeting. How to subscribe/participate in our listserve for MichALL is announced. The member survey indicated that members  want more than 1 meeting per year! What a turn around!  Add the fall dinner meeting as a tradition, including a speaker from AALL. The MichALL/ORALL breakfast meeting at AALL in 1995 has over 100 reservations!

Increased reporting, in depth, in our newsletter about programs at AALL. And another new feature: 'Have you tried these internet resources yet?' October dinner meeting: 30 members.  Use of email to keep in touch increases.

The 3rd Regional Conference is in Toronto for 1996. A Library without Borders: How Technology Has Impacted Information Sharing in the Global Community is the theme.  Three  MichALL program proposals are accepted.  There are 400 participants and the newsletter includes summaries of each program.  We have 121 members.  Sharon Bradley becomes editor and writes: 'The Internet and Your Future.' In 1997 she writes: 'The Book Placed on Endangered Species List,' wherein she discussed Bob Berring's article 'Chaos, Cyberspace and Tradition: Legal Information Transmogrified,' 12 Berkely Tech. LJ 189 (1997).   MaryLou and Michele Howard are working on the design and implementation of association's  website.  Good reasons to put up a web site from Sharon Bradley's 'You, the Web and Being Hip.' Sharon summarizes Pat Wagner's address from the annual 1998 meeting: 'Marketing as if Your Job Depended on It.' The Midwest Regional conference topic in Milwaukee: Law Libraries and Change in the  Information Age.    At 125 members, the Board is again calling for volunteers.  Lack of input for our newsletter and a couple of committees are vacant.  Board reaffirms value of publishing regular issues of newsletter.  MichALL sponsors 1 location for the AALL annual satellite video conference. Let me repeat that: satellite video conference.  The Board is doing conference calling, e-mails and faxing in reports.  Shannon Mitchell reports that at the chapter leadership sessions in AALL she learned that most chapters have the same concerns: getting and keeping members and filling committee positions.

In 1999, the AALL  annual meeting is in Washington  D. C. The theme is 'Information Policy: Today's Decisions May Limit Tomorrow's Access.' Sharon Bradley attends an MLA workshop on copyright and discusses 2 new Acts.  The spring meeting in May is about Change Management.  Change in the workplace impacts your  whole life; how to be resilient. 'Life in the Fast Lane' was presented by West Publishing.  The Board again calls for help!  The May 1999 issue includes brief biographies and statements by candidates.  This is a first.   Everyone always talks about our image but everyone is too humble.  Jan Bisset's article 'Dot.Library?' offers net sites for library administration uses.

Kathleen Gamache's president letter reminds us of our unique gift: our constitution. She reflects after attending AALL in Washington D.C.  It is encouraging when leaders take time to ponder our foundations and share their thoughts and feelings.  Our website is being developed by Julia Daniel; and moved from Wayne State to the AALL Server.  The Detroit Bar Library closes and Jan Bissert provides an article on document delivery and ILL services; a selected web based catalog list and a chart of local delivery services.  Many law firm libraries relied on the Bar Library for these services.

Kathleen touches on part of the reason for the last 10 years of ups and downs of our MichALL membership participation: 'Where is all the time I've Saved this year?' One does see the change in the organization through its newsletter and its accomplishments beginning with the changes in technology.  Kathleen wanted MichALL to accomplish a community service project - a noble goal as MichALL has offered pro bono services, consulting services and educational services to the library and legal community since it began.  Maybe the best we can offer at this time is to learn enough to serve our users and our library properly each day.

As the year 2000 begins, a new logo is needed as the current one cannot be used on our website.

The spring meeting 'Law and Order' in Grand Rapids, at  Miejer Gardens was a success. Good solid information and a beautiful location. The program is summarized in our newsletter.  The newsletter also reports concerns over UCITA, the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act, which is opposed by most library associations. LLMD and WSU Library program alumni Association  sponsor the AALL video conference:' Books and Bytes: Balancing Formats in Today's Libraries.' The next Gamache letter presents the topic of access and preservation 'What will be saved?' It is a very serious discussion about our information needs in the future. Kathleen thanks Shannon Mitchell Bass and Joan Hollier for service on the Board.  Mary Karpinski is the Vice President.  Article submission by Bridget Faricy: 'Medical Research: Tips and Tricks for the Law Librarian'. At the March 2000 board meeting it was reported that we have 101 members. And Julia Daniel did a demo of the MichALL website.   Included in our newsletter is the AALL draft of core competencies of Law Librarianship.  Our deadline for a compatible logo is indefinite. 

Current leadership is: Joan Byerly, President; Mary Karpinski, Vice President; Duane Strojny, Secretary; Michele Howard, Treasure, Kathleen Gamache, Past Present; Eric Kennedy and Rita Marsala are members at large.  Newsletter editor is Andrea Muto. At the executive board meeting in August of 2000, we had 53 paid members. The question was: how to get more involvement?  Kathleen wants to meet with past presidents about needed changes to our by-laws.

What can MichALL do for members? What can members do for MichALL?  The members want the organization to continue.  The 2001 annual AALL meeting is in Minneapolis and the 2001 theme is 'New Realities, New Roles.' LLRX website announces Court rules, forms and dockets through key word searching.

Website addresses of all of the Michigan law school catalogs are listed.  Instructions for subscribing to the MichALL  listserv are included.  Our most current newsletter, March 2001, features an article on the new law school:' Meet Ave Maria: a New Michigan law school and Library.' The possible changes to our by-laws are included and are to be voted on at the May 4th, 2001 meeting.  Where are we? Read again Joan Byerly's Presidents Column in our March 2001 newsletter.  She reminds us of the joy of doing reference work and how everything is not on the internet and how, therefore, the questions are more challenging by the time they are asked.  Joan was able to make someone say 'Wow'! 

We have been the gatekeepers of knowledge and information and now we find ourselves on a somewhat more level playing field with people using the internet...but when they cannot find it or when it is not there...we are it! We have to move into the future while maintaining and utilizing our skills and abilities from the past.  MichALL helps its members do just that!

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