SNELLA's Obiter Dicta
Summer Vineyard Tour
This summer, SNELLA members toured the Chamard Vineyards in Clinton, CT. Located near the Clinton Crossing premium shopping outlets, Chamard's 20 acre vineyard consists primarily of Chardonnay, with a small quantity of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. The first wine, a 1988 Chardonnay was released for sale in November of 1989. Current production is 6,000 cases annually. The vineyard benefits from a unique climate influenced greatly by Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River, as well as rich, stony soil, and gently sloping land. Chamard Vineyard gives daily tours and wine tastings free of charge to the general public. There is also an opportunity to purchase bottles of the wine, and other gift items in their gift shop. Thanks to all who participated in this event and we hope to see more members next time!
This year I had the honor to receive a grant from SNELLA to attend the AALL conference in Orlando. Even though I had been to one other library conference before, I wasn't sure what to expect from this one. I found the AALL conference to be very well organized and focused. I attended various programs, partied at many social events, got active in business meetings and learned new technologies at vendors' exhibits. I found the entire experience to be very energizing, inspiring, educational and fun. The following is a description of some of the more memorable events for me.
I started the conference on Saturday, July 20th with CONELL, the Conference of Newer Law Librarians. The morning consisted of a series of informational and breakout sessions designed to educate attendees on how to conference and to motivate participants for further involvement in AALL. Two sessions I remember well were "From Rookie to Veteran" and "Marketplace." In "From Rookie to Veteran," Greg Lambert from the Oklahoma Supreme Court shared his tips and advice on job success. Advice such as always remembering the professional you are (staying above gossip, etc.) and being proud of what you do (tooting your own horn, etc.) served as good inspirational reminders for me. Kumar Percy from the University of Texas talked about volunteering for AALL. Julie Bozzell from Greenberg Traurig of Miami and Erika Wayne from Stanford Law School gave a lively presentation on how to conference. They shared some very practical ideas such as taking a buddy with you to tour the exhibit hall if you feel intimidated for lack of purchasing power (or any other reason), using the back of your badge to store business cards and tickets to the various activities and using eyedrops to keep your eyes wide open after a night of partying! During "Marketplace," participants got a chance to meet representatives from AALL committees, special interest sections and local chapters. Some of the SIS’s I visited included State Court and County Law Libraries, Legal Information Services to the Public and Foreign, Comparative and International Law. Here I got basic information about the groups as well as information on how I can become more involved. Another activity worth mentioning was our tour of the Orlando Museum of Art. Here, I discovered the very interesting modern paintings of Frank Moore. Moore combined images from his farm and other areas in New York State with modern technology and medicine to convey powerful social commentary. If you are interested in art and aren’t familiar with his work, his art is worth a look.
On Sunday, I attended "A Crack in the First Rung on the Ladder of Justice - Can a Model County Law Library Code Reinforce Our Legal Information Gateways?" Anne Grande of the Hennepin County Law Library introduced the program by discussing the purposes of the meeting and educating participants on the background of the Model Trial Court/County Law Library Code project. The main purpose of the program was to solicit feedback on the final draft of the Model County Law Library Code before it goes to people outside the profession such as judges, etc. The main reason for the project was to provide some suggested guidelines, written by librarians, as a resource for legislatures that may be changing the statutes regarding their law library systems. Anne cited other reasons for having a model code including the focus it can provide to find our role with the increased number of pro se litigants and increased use of technology. Mike Miller of the Maryland State Law Library elaborated on the project’s general background with statistics gathered by the first working group. To me, some of the statistics were very surprising. Of the responses received from the first working group’s survey, only 46% of the libraries were staffed by at least one degreed librarian! 58% of respondents consider funding to be adequate to maintain the collection! This was greatly influenced by the answers of non-librarians participating in the questionnaire. 68% have no relationship with the local public library. (Guilty as charged.) Most of these statistics pointed to the need for some model code and the need to focus on a broader view of our libraries from outside of the profession. Maureen Well continued the discussion with the structure and history of the Connecticut Law Library system, which started as a county system over 100 years ago and, through various changes, is now a part of the Connecticut Judicial Branch of government. Karen Westwood of the Minnesota State Law Library talked about the set-up of her library system and how implementation of some aspects of the code has influenced her libraries. While I don’t remember much feedback from audience members during the program, Mike Miller’s handouts had some email feedback on the draft. Some applaud the pro-active effort. Others feel that creating boards and tying libraries to state offices can be too restrictive. Personally, my opinion falls in between the two. I think the code has the flexibility to have participants adopt some measures while leaving others depending on their needs and existing factors. But mostly the program impressed on me a larger view of how the nations’ law libraries exist. It made me realize how well organized we are, a fact verified to me by my librarian friends outside the law field.
My favorite plenary session was "Generations at Work" given by Ron Zemke of Performance Research Associates. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would like this program. I have been taught to be wary of categorizing people too quickly or too broadly. But Zemke used fun, entertaining visuals and anecdotes to describe the characteristics, motivations and interrelations of the different generations in the workplace. Zemke talked about the Veterans, born between 1922 and 1943, who value conformity, respect for authority and delayed reward. He described the Baby Boomers, born between 1943 and 1960, who are geared to personal gratification, personal involvement and consensus in decision making. The details of Generation X were the most familiar to me (probably because I am one.) Some of these details I found true for myself. Being a former latch-key kid, I relate to being independent except when it comes to learning things on my own. Give me a class anytime! I was very interested to hear about the Nexters, born after 1980, because I know the least about this group and because I may end up working with (or supervising) them for a good majority of my career. Nexters are group oriented in their thinking and decision making. They like to have detailed instructions for accomplishing tasks. I'll never forget what Zemke said about the Nexters: "They may look like they're dangerous, but they're not! They visit danger but they don't stay there." Zemke suggested that this may come from the over-protected environment they grew up in. (Think of all the padding we made them wear while they were out roller skating!) This image really struck me. I thought about all of the times I had some strange looking kids approach me at the public library reference desk. After working with them for just a few minutes, I found out that they were the nicest people I’d ever met!
On Wednesday, I attended "Here Comes the Judge: Evaluating Online Services." The program presenter was T.R. Halvorson, a Deputy County Attorney in Montana. I was very impressed with this program! T.R. had a very clear and direct way of presenting the material, which was very useful and practical. T.R. discussed two processes: evaluation, especially to the standards of our profession without "dumbing down" to management, and communication. For evaluation, T.R. recommended using the SCOUG rating scale because it is already considered a "classic" in its twelve-year history. The SCOUG Rating Scale has the following ten categories of criteria:
1. Coverage and scope (Which courts are covered? How deep are the back files of historical data?)
2. Timeliness (How frequently are the files updated?)
3. Accuracy/error rate/authenticity (What is the source of the data?)
4. Accessibility/ ease of use (What are the hours of operation and availability?)
5. Consistency (Is navigation the same throughout the system?)
6. Integration (Does the system offer hyperlinking ability?)
7. Output (Are keywords highlighted in context?)
8. Documentation (Are search operations documented?)
9. Customer support and training (Is customer support staffed adequately?)
10. Value-to-cost ratio (What pricing options are available?).
As for communication, the memorandum to management should be concise. The writer must limit the summary to one page and stay within tolerable cognitive load levels. Management wants to read answers and conclusions, not information and facts. The writer should condense the categories of the SCOUG rating scale to no more than seven categories. After T.R.’s presentation, we broke out into smaller working groups where we used the SCOUG rating scale to evaluate FastCase, a new online research system. I liked the fact that we had this opportunity to do hands on work.
I can’t conclude my article without mentioning some of the fun I had at the convention. I didn’t have too much time to visit Disney but I promised myself I would at least visit the World Showcase at Epcot Center. I accomplished my goal, which was to visit the Moroccan section and eat at their restaurant. I was also impressed with the other countries' displays. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening reception at SeaWorld. I also enjoyed the West SCCLL reception on Tuesday night where a few law librarians were trying to convince me to go to law school. (Sorry gang! Don’t think I’m ready for that one yet!) Being a lover of simple pleasures, I'll never forget the Peabody ducks! Every day around 11:00 am the red carpet is rolled out through the lobby, people gather around and the Peabody ducks are marched to music straight to the fountain from their penthouse. Those ducks are faster than you’d think!
Education Committee: Claudia Jalowka
Placement Committee: Janet Zigadto
Publications Committee: Lawrence Cheeseman
Public Relations Chair: Steve Mirsky
Scholarship Committee: Sandee Molden
Technology Committee: Mary Scott
Public Relations/ CBA Liaison/ AALL Relations Liaison: Dottie McCaughtry