Fall 2000

Mark Your Calendar

SWALL/SEAALL 2001 
April 18-21, 2001 
Atlanta, GA

Announcements

The O'Quinn Law Library will be closed December 15-January 2 for emergency construction. There will be no library services during this time.u

People

On November 27, 2000, Holland & Hart L.L.P. in Denver, Colorado welcomed Al Dong as its new Research Librarian. Al was formerly a Reference Librarian at the University of Denver's Westminster Law Library.

From the President...

Change.

A noun. A verb. The challenge to adapt to new technologies, to new customer demands, new information sources; the ability to cope when the power is down and someone still needs something. You know it: finding the right haystack and the needle your customer needs to close the big deal.

Last year, driving to the grocery store during one of the late July evening thunderstorms my eye catches the flash of an intense bolt of lightning. Before the thunder crashed over me a brief glow appeared where the lightning appeared to have struck. Then darkness. Street lights, traffic lights all off. Cautiously I proceeded on down the road, treating the traffic lights as 4 way stop signs. Puzzling why some neon lights remained on one side of the street, wondering how long the electricity would be off and would it cause my finned pets any significant discomfort. And, more to the point - was the grocery store still open.

The parking light was dark, there were people standing at the doorway but there appeared to be lights on inside. A universal power supply I muse - its just a big battery running some emergency lights so that everyone can safely evacuate the store. Still, I decided to stop and investigate. Store employees at the door didn't turn me away. They were still open! It was great! Yes, not all the lights were on so it was a little bit darker - but still light enough for my even my eyes to read most everything I needed to read. But, there was practically no one there.

I had most of the store to myself. No one wandering slowly down the middle of the aisles, blocking my determined mission for the items on my list. And, all because I overrode the normal signals I could see: the lights are out, nothing can work.

But, I questioned my perception of reality, risked a mistake and changed my understanding of what grocery stores can do in power outages.

As librarians we must continuously question our own perceptions of reality - especially when it relates to what our customers want or need or appreciate. Failing to question our perceptions, failing to refresh our information will force us ultimately to make change using at a machine with large icons of food items.

Fortunately for us we're law librarians and we have many resources available to us to help us change, to keep up with our ever-changing roles. Some of those include the chapter newsletter and the annual AALL and SWALL meetings. Those of you who attended the recent SWALL meeting in San Antonio have fresh memories of exceptional educational programming. It's not too late to attend AALL in Philadelphia and not too early to plan to attend the joint SWALL/SEALL meeting next spring in Atlanta.

Another excellent way to cope with change is volunteering in your professional association. See the SWALL committee volunteer form elsewhere in this issue of the Bulletin. Besides giving you a chance to give back to your profession, it provides an opportunity to practice some skills you use with your attorneys, faculty, judges. And, it's practically a risk-free environment because your law librarian colleagues can't hurt your paycheck.

Volunteering for something in the chapter may feel like it would be just too much, take too much time, not be fun, etc. Personally, I've found a very high return on investment for the time I've spent volunteering in professional library activities. I've met librarians from other walks of librarianship, learned lots of new and exciting ideas/solutions to apply in my library, practice speaking and writing. In short, a very good deal.

Jim Hambleton, writing about his career path, wrote "Get involved in the professional activities of the law library associations of which you are a member. Volunteer to speak on a program. The first time is scary, but it's a great opportunity to research a topic to bring yourself up to date, and then share that information with your professional colleagues."

Mark Estes

SWALL President

 

Arkansas Supreme Court Library Closing

Arkansas Supreme Court Library Closing for Renovation Beginning December 27, 2000, the Arkansas Supreme Court Library, the oldest library in the State of Arkansas, will be closed to the public until further notice. Because of the forthcoming renovation of the Justice Building resulting in the temporary relocation of the Arkansas Supreme Court Library, the Library must close to the public. The Arkansas Supreme Court Library plans to re-open to the public in the renovated Justice Building in July 2002.

The library will be temporarily relocated to a state office building a short distance from the Justice Building so that the librarians may continue to serve the Court's information needs and take care of the collection. Superseded statutes from other states will be stored at another location and will be inaccessible. The librarians hope to take this opportunity to complete the implementation of the shared III system with the UALR/Pulaski County Law Library.

The staff of the Arkansas Supreme Court Library regret that the circumstances of the renovation prevent continued service to the public; however, we look forward to serving the public again in the renovated facility. Our telephone number, fax number, and e-mail addresses will remain the same.

Timothy N. Holthoff, Director Arkansas Supreme Court Library

Announcement of South Texas College of Law Library Special Collections Department Temporary Closure

By Mark Lambert

The South Texas College of Law Library's Special Collections department will be greatly impacted during an upcoming phase of the library's move to larger quarters in the new Fred Parks Law Library. The Special Collections Department includes the library's rare book collection, the college archives, and a small amount of manuscript collections. Beginning December 1st, almost all materials in the Special Collections department are unavailable, while materials are inventoried, boxed, and then shipped off-site for storage until June 1st, 2001. The present Special Collections/Jesse H. Jones Reading Room space will be renovated while the third floor of the old library is closed from January to May, 2001, and will later reopen to become computer classrooms, adjacent to the expanded computer server room.

During the interim period (December 1st to June 1st), the public access terminals of the library's electronic catalog will still contain listings of the materials in Special Collections, but the status box of each Special Collections material record will read "Boxed Offsite," and the line of the catalog record entitled "Library Has:" will relate the unavailability of the materials from December to June. Items stored off-site from December to June will be unable to be recalled during that time period.

A very small amount of the materials of the Special Collections department have remained on-site during this period to support current teaching or research. These materials have the usual note of "See Librarian" in the status box of each record. It may be possible to use these materials. It is highly recommended that you contact the Special Collections Librarian during normal working hours concerning the availability of any materials before planning your research or making a trip to the library.

The Special Collections department/Jesse H. Jones Reading Room will reopen June 1st, 2001, on the second floor of the renovated library space, with more shelf space to accommodate this growing, valuable collection. We apologize for any inconvenience. Any questions may be addressed to: Mark Lambert Special Collections and Government Documents Librarian South Texas College of Law Library 1303 San Jacinto Street Houston, TX 77002-7000 Phone: 713/646-1720 E-mail: mlambert@stcl.edu.

Program Committee Report for January SWALL Bulletin

Beth Youngdale, Head of Reference, University of Texas School of Law

The Program Committee is pleased to report that the program for the Joint Meeting in Atlanta has been finalized, and there's a little something for everyone. As you know we will be meeting with SEAALL this year in Atlanta. The theme for the 2001 SEAALL/SWALL meeting is Southeast Meets Southwest: Librarians' Odyssey. Some samples of what to expect are: Web Design in the Law Firm Library, 2001: A Legislative Odyssey, Accessing Public Records Via the Internet, and Independent Law Librarians. Of course, these are just a few of the many excellent programs that will be presented. Be sure to check them all out in the registration materials that will be headed your way soon. There will also be two pre-conference events: A Law Firm Institute about Electronically Delivered Products and a mini-TRIALL (Teaching Research in Academic Libraries). The Opening Reception will be held at the Michael C. Carlos Museum on the campus of Emory University. The exhibit will be "Mysteries of the Mummies: the Art and Archeology of Death in Ancient Egypt"-open just in time for the meeting.

We hope that we've managed to come up with topics that are interesting to every librarian who's thinking about heading to Atlanta this spring. We know the city is a draw-we think the program will be, too! I'd like to thank the Program Committee for their great ideas and willingness to help in organizing SWALL's part of the Joint Meeting.

The members of the Committee are Sharon Blackburn, Diana Busbey, Yvonne Chandler, Amy Hale Janecke, Susan Skyzinski and Beth Youngdale.

 

Federal Depository Program Seeks a Niche in Electronic Era

By Chris Anglim

More than 500 Documents librarians throughout the nation converged for the Ninth annual depository meeting in Rosslyn, Virginia on October 22-26, in a meeting which set a new record for attendance. Often a high attendance correlates with budget crisis in the program, which is the case in the wake of Congress' recent two million slashing of GPO's budget. Interest in the meeting was particularly generated by a letter sent to library directors from Superintendent Francis Buckley, announcing that the GPO would present a draft policy during the conference, which would serve as a guideline to GPO's decision-making on which titles would continue to be distributed in dual formats. The meeting focused largely on how the depository library program could adapt to the Internet era and finding our niche in this new milieu. One panel discussion was even provocatively titled, Government Information Reference Services: New Roles and Models for the Post-Depository Era. None of the panelists believed that the Depository Program is, or should, go away, any time soon, but they expressed concerns that depositories need to reevaluate their services, taking into account the fact that users of government information no longer need to visit us physically to find what they need According to one speaker, we live in the "post-depository" era, in which citizens looking for government information are no longer restricted by geography. The depository program is not necessarily doomed, nor is the program's longstanding objective of providing permanent access to government information for the public. While the program is not doomed, it must adapt to the challenges of the information world.

Largely due to the Internet, reference usage has been declining at university libraries throughout the United States. Although the questions are fewer, they are more intensive and more in depth. For many people under thirty, using the traditional library is the last resort, while using the Internet is the search method of retrieving information. We may need to develop new measures of what we are doing, since simple counts of reference questions may indicate that need for our services is diminishing, when in fact, it is changing or is even increasing.

If users choose to come to us or not is beyond our control, some believe that libraries need more emphasis on facilitating users finding information on their own (both in the library and through the library's web page.

The reference librarian is becoming a reference therapist, helping the user to define his or her information needs, which is important for the user about to venture on the Internet in search of information.

The facts dispel two myths about the depository program. The first is that the material coming through the depository is all junk. This is transparently false because much valuable information comes through the depository program that does not come through any other means. The second myth is that all the material that our users would need is on the Internet. There have been repeated horror stories about agencies that taken the "old stuff" off their sites, when users still need that historical information.

One could ask what will become of the depository program suffering from the double blows of deep budget cuts and the increasing pervasiveness of the Internet. The question then undoubtedly, the Internet has revolutionized the mission of libraries. Our Institutions must adjust to this change to grow. What does this mean for federal depositories and the federal government's commitment to provide information. One point is clear. As some speakers pointed out, Awe have to get away from thinking of the depository system as a free book program. However, much of what the depository has brought us is still valid today, such as the classification system and the commitment to reference service. Certainly the reference interview is still going to be required in the Internet world, as it was in the pre-internet world. We still have users, whom we must ask, What is the question they are really asking. The reference librarian, thus, will continue to serve as a reference therapist.

The traditional Depository Library Program suffers from a funding crisis that resulted philosophical differences between the Congress and the depository community. Michael DeMario, the Public Printer, said that GPO and Congress have contrasting perspectives when it comes to electronic information. The GPO sees opportunities for enhanced service, while Congress viewed opportunities for reduced costs. GAO study asked to see how to transfer GPO to the Library of Congress, not the merits of the idea. Congress also requires a "rejustification" of the program, much to the displeasure of the Depository Library community.

Patrick Buckley, the Superintendent of Documents, said that the depository community benefitted from the fact that the proposed GPO cuts were in the same legislative package as those for such high profile agencies such as the Capitol police. Buckley, who sees the FDLP as a "safety net" for people who cannot access government information on their own, discussed the idea of sending the "source files" of electronic documents to depository libraries for archiving. He commented that GPO usually does not get source files from the agencies, but rather obtains camera-ready copy, which is preferable if the document is also going to be printed.

Andy Sherman, Director of Congressional, Legislative, and Public Affairs for GPO, said that a new Congress might be amenable to a revision of Title 44, which authorizes the depository library program. He said that the depository program will be better served when the chairmanship of the Joint Committee on Printing reverts back to the US Senate with the 107th Congress.

Gil Baldwin, Director of the Library Programs Service that oversees the Depository Program, said that the primary medium for documents will be electronic. Essential documents will continue to be distributed in paper. A current list of essential documents is found on: http://www.lawlib.uh.edu/swall/www.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/index.html

Many of these issues were discussed at the Depository Library Council Plenary session, in a report of draft recommendations and action items. Among the determining criteria are: whether the online version is recognized as "official" by the publishing agency; whether the tangible product of significant reference value to depository libraries and/or would be a significant barrier to public access if only available online and whether there is a legal requirement to distribute the tile in a print format.

Judy Russell, of NCLIS, believes that agencies are beginning to better appreciate the concept of permanent public access to their materials. The NCLIS report on government information will be available by around December 15 on www.nclis.gov/

One contentious issue was how to react in the face of the budgetary reductions. While GPO is analyzing how the budget cuts will affect the distribution of tangible documents, it has announced that it is committed to ensuring that the core titles identified as part of the 1996 study on the transition to a more electronic FDLP that are deemed significant will continue to be distributed in print even thought they may be published online. The titles in question include, the CFR, the Federal Register, Statutes at Large, and the US Code. Another contentious issue was the "source file" issue, in which the argument was that the depository libraries should receive these source files. The current practice is that the agencies usually supply GPO with camera ready copy, since it is less expensive to print when it is in this form.

Training staff is of vital importance. We need to make sure that the staff handling government documents are well-trained. Training sessions and overviews should be held on a regular basis.

Is It Worth Being a Depository Library?

Currently, there some depositories have chosen to leave the depository program. Many of these tend to be smaller libraries, which have had personnel and other administrative difficulties in managing the program. The handout "Questions for 'Reconsidering Depository Status'" was very helpful in evaluating the factors that ought to be considered in considering whether to continue being a part of the depository program. These include issues relating to: 1) access to materials, 2) costs and expenses, 3) Library mission and public service, 4) Intangible factors, and 5) withdrawal procedures.

The Model of the Government Information Specialist

Buckley said that Librarians are needed more than ever to provide training and assistance to users in accessing Government Information. They need to keep up-to-date on issues and take advantage of educational and training opportunities to expand their skills in dealing with rapid technological change. In the session on Reconsidering the depository program, one of the speakers said we are moving in the direction of being less depository librarians and more government information specialists.

The Electronic Intermediary.

Several of the programs dealt with issues on how to effectively act as an intermediary for our users. These included ASearch Engine Indexing of GPO Access Web Pages: An Open Discussion on How to Measure and Improve Results; "How Do I Cite This? Automating Reference Assistance," and "Search Full Text of US Internet Government Periodicals."

Innovations in Service Despite Budgetary Reductions.

There is no doubt that the depository community and the GPO must remain committed to excellent in service. One of these involves maintaining and improving the places on cyberspace providing government information. First Gov., the Clinton administration's new search engine, has recently been introduced. The search was as gift intended to be a stimulus for government to make more information available online. The General Services Administration (GSA) launched FirstGov, as the "First Click to the U.S. Government." FirstGov is an official federal website and is a project of the President's management Council and is managed by the FirstGov Team. It is touted as a one-stop shopping Web site for government information.

Thomas Freebairn, director of FirstGov, presented it at the conference. First Gov has three parts: the Front Lobby, which provides the citizen's first entry to FirstGov; the Back Room, where copies of the government's web pages are stored to enable rapid searches; and partners, which is how public or private sector entities become partners. The Back room is where copies of the government's web pages are stored to enable rapid searches. The partners are public or private sector portals that may use the First Gov brand in exchange for meeting certain conditions. It is intended as a portal, and complement existing services, not replace them. Its search engine is somewhat limited, and it does not search WAIS databases, which means that it does not pull up information from the Federal Register, Congressional Record, and other databases of this kind in GPO Access. Cross-agency cooperation tends to be a challenge in government, but. FirstGov is being offered as a model. It is still a work in progress and a subsequent release is planned.

Maintaining Relevance by Ensuring Visibility.

For a depository library to remain viable, it must convince potential users that it has something that they want or need . Thus, the session on depository library promotional materials was very helpful, as was the workshop on A Government Document Displays: A Tutorial and Clearinghouse. It is on the web at: http://www.lawlib.uh.edu/swall/www.lib.mankato.msus.edu/lib/govdoc/proj/tutorials/finalfront2.html Displays are very important to depositories as a means to maintain awareness, generate interest, and to educate our users.

Ensuring access.

Some meetings pertained to how to protect our materials and guarantee access for the seeable future, both in preventing what we have from being either physically or bibliographically lost, and by making more materials more accessible to library users. One was disaster planning, which all institutions should have to act quickly and decisively in case of unpleasant events. Nothing handicaps our efforts to provide access more than materials which are destroyed.

The Historical Government Documents Cataloging Project arranged by five colleges in Ohio, with substantial collections of older documents, also ensures access by ensuring access to older, but still very important, records. The project cataloged pre-1976 documents and will make them available through OCLC. It followed the following procedure: 1) Brief records for original docs tracking; 2) collection consolidation sharing; 3) OCLC record instructions; 4) TechPro preparation; 5) Record evaluation criteria; and 6) Notes fields and statements. The project has provided improved access; better control over collections; an opportunity to share and strengthen collections; increased use and circulation both locally and through ILL; holding added to Ohio Link & OCLC; and enriched OCLC records.

Increasingly, federal agencies are relying on digital technology to preserve and disseminate their information. Some digital projects were discussed including those digitizing Indian Affairs, digitizing historical USGS maps, digital archiving at NARA, and the Open Archival Information System: A Model for Preserving Digital Information.

Access can be enhanced through successful grantsmanship. The program "Applying for Grants", was presented by a representative from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (www.imls.gov), a recently established (1996) independent grant-making agency, who provided practical tips in grant-writing and examples of projects which received funding. The second speaker discussed the Technology Opportunity Program under the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is analogous to the TIFF Program in Texas.

Conclusion.

Depository librarians, in order, to preserve the program, will act as advocate. They will need to act as liaisons, and they need to avoid being invisible. We need to promote our benefit and value to users. Undoubtedly, electronic data retrieval is here to stay and undoubtedly its benefits are significant. What does this mean for the depository program? We still need a vibrant depository program to ensure our constituents are educated and informed.

 

A Ful-Phill-ing Experience

by Amy Hale Janeke

I had never been to Philadelphia before, nor had I ever been to AALL, so this was a completely new experience!! When I arrived in Philly, I felt like I was in a different country, and occasionally a different time. The streets were small and crowded, the houses were packed cheek-by-jowl, and almost every building I saw had a plaque with "Est. 1820" or something similar to that. This is in sharp contrast to California, where buildings are considered historic if they were built 50 years ago and haven't been torn down to put in a strip mall (yet).

But I saw most of this in a blur as I hurtled down a side street in a taxi towards the hotel at about 100 miles an hour and sailed over bumps in the road much like that acclaimed auto of the "Dukes of Hazzard", the General Lee. This, combined with the fact that taxi driver was ranting and gesticulating wildly about the most recent police beating in Philly (which caught national attention as it was videotaped) did not help the heartburn I was developing from the five hour flight and the airlines' version of scrambled eggs.

Later, after I got settled in at the hotel, I thought I would walk about a bit and see other parts of this new and exotic land. The first thing I saw as I stepped out of the hotel was Philly's City Hall. It looks like something a wedding cake decorator on speed would concoct. To say it is festooned with arches, curlicues, turrets, and scrolls simply does not do justice to this building. It is an arabesque fantasy in stone. My guess is that it is the earliest example of governmental contracting. "Your brother is an out-of-work mason and the only models he's worked with are Victorian castles? Great! He's hired." The city hall is an architectural wonder not only for its fanciful decoration, but also because no steel was used in its construction. Since this is a rather tall building, a tour guide informed me that the walls had to be 27 feet thick in some places in order to support the weight.

After this visual assault, I thought a cup of coffee would be just the ticket to clear my head. I spotted a café close by and spent another hour people-watching! I saw historic re-enactors dressed in clothing appropriate to the late 1700s sipping lattes next to pink haired punks with safety pins in their ears. Very cosmopolitan! And all this even before AALL started!

CONELL, which is how AALL breaks in new law librarians, was fun. I met other jet-lagged librarians and we got to know each other by playing games. One of them, an informal one-upmanship game called "my patrons are crazier than your patrons," was interesting. However, since I work at a county law library in a downtown urban area, it was really no contest. I won hands down with my story about the patron who insisted that he was from Los Alamos, NM and had traveled to San Diego to tell us that Stalin, the deceased Russian dictator, was planning on coming through our Internet connection and electrocuting all the librarians. I told him that we had a problem with deceased dictators' antics in the past and that our computer people were on top of the problem.. He left happy. Problem solved.

AALL itself was a blur of meetings, roundtables, receptions, more meetings, and eating. After the first day, I learned why smart librarians don't cruise the Exhibits area with a CONELL sticker on their badge. The exhibitors, like predators, are able to spot the young, vulnerable librarians in the herd and single them out for long, boring talks and load them up with enough tri-fold brochures to start a bonfire. I learned to remove the CONELL sticker when entering this dangerous area.

I also learned that they hand out the cool shoulder tote bags so you can haul around this incredibly heavy handout book, the revised handouts you get at the program, and the flurry of business cards that seems to cloud the air like snowflakes. By the end of the week, my tote bag was so heavy that I was walking like Igor the hump-backed lab assistant. My tote bag could have been classified as a lethal weapon in most states.

One of my favorite programs, officially entitled "Greeting our Lay Patrons at the Gateway: Who Are They and How Can We Help Them?" involved reference librarians role playing how to deal with difficult patrons. This program showcased the "Ready for the Reference Desk Players" who did uncanny impressions of some of the most common types of patrons at a law library. These included "creepy standing too close man," "stubborn attorney who won't listen to you," "angry divorced person," and "jailhouse lawyer."

After the day's programs, there was usually a banquet or reception to attend. There was no shortage of food, drink, and conversation at these events and they provided a nice way to end the day. I always fell into bed exhausted, slept like the dead, then got up to do it all again the next day. It was a great experience and I am very grateful to SWALL for the grant that allowed me to attend. But I must admit that by the end of the conference, I was longing for a fish taco (a California specialty) and some sun. I endured the five hour flight home and was gratified to step back into the smoke-free, avocado-laden world which has become home to me. As the sounds of car horns and gunshots serenaded me on the huge six lane freeway, I felt like I was back in my natural element.

I have a whole year to prepare for AALL in Minnesota and I am going to take some necessary equipment this time: a back support for hauling around the tote bag full of handouts, a life size cardboard cutout of myself to distract the exhibitors in the exhibit hall while I pillage their candy bowls, and an alarm clock that only rings after 8 a.m. Equipped with these few survival items, I will look the part of a veteran AALL attendee. Will I have fun when I get there? You betcha!

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