30 Years of WPLLA History
The following history compilation is derived solely from WPLLA’s newsletters archive available on WPLLA’s website (2006-2008) and from University of Illinois Archives (1978-1998). These newsletters represent the association’s living history. The collection is one of the few tangible pieces that share the stories of our members through the years. We hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane.
Fall 1977 … The process to organize the chapter is started by Joel Fishman and others.
Summer … First meeting held June 12, 1978 at Duquesne University.September … Business meeting held at University of PittsburghNovember … Robert Byer of Eckert Seamans Cherin and Mellott presents a Pennsylvania legislative history program.December … CFR workshop held. Officer voting by mail from Dec. 1 -15. Election meeting at Allegheny County Bar Association.Margaret Krasik is first President (1977-78). Audrey Hudiburgh is second President (1978-79).
January … Membership is 30 strong. Spring … First newsletter published features a recap of previous year’s programs. The Third Circuit Library announces plans to publish an Opinions Newsletter twice a month. A directory of useful Pennsylvania and Federal legislative-related telephone numbers are listed to track status of bills. March … The Allegheny County Law Library adds “tattle tape” to prevent theft. September … Founding members discuss a reorganizational move after significant turnover in membership.
January … Patricia Moyer becomes president. March … Annual report letter submitted to AALL explains Joel Fishman is temporary vice president. Newsletter will be published quarterly. Membership is expanded to include students. September … A letter informs Roger Jacobs at the Supreme Court Library that WPLLA doesn’t have sufficient funds to publish a directory. An original list of members attached. December … State Librarians Elliott Shelkrot and Judith Foust visit chapter. Dues are $5 for active members and $2.50 for non-active members.
March … Frank Liu and Marc Silverman become members. October … Meeting to develop union list of serials. Members asked to vote on a bylaws amendment to make the vice president/president elect chair of the programs committee. An exchange list of holdings is published. Allegheny County Law Library receives $12,500 grant from the State Library to begin OCLC classification.
February … Frank Liu appointed vice president / president elect. Debbie Solano is new newsletter editor. Program on Micromedia (microforms and micofiche) is held. The format is heralded as the future of technology because it interfaces with computer-assisted retrieval systems. Allegheny County Law Library officials seek corporate law library partners to develop an OCLC cataloging project. Various book sales posted in newsletter. Reed Smith Shaw and McClay selling PA State Reports to volume 462.
Spring … Annual banquet is held at The Top of the Triangle. Forty-seven people attend. Leah Chanin, outgoing AALL president, talks about “Professionalism and AALL.”Union list goes on sale and includes holdings of Allegheny County, University of Pittsburgh, and eight law firm libraries. Potential newsletter names include “Whooplla.” New logo unveiled. September … Patti Schmid is president. She accepts offer to be librarian for Pitt’s Semester at Sea program. Membership grows to more than 60 people. A placement service, which holds resumes and forwards them to potential employers, is created. A consulting committee is in exploratory stages. Ultimately, it isn’t created due to lack of interest and opportunities. University of Pittsburgh Law Library completes a major book shift, especially state materials.
January … New brochure created and approved. May … Membership increases to 99 people. The Parliamentarian/Historian office is created. Scholarship guidelines drafted with caveat that funds will go toward WPLLA president’s attendance of AALL conference before a scholarship is awarded. AALL conference theme is “1984: The Future is Now.” Spring … LexisNexis becomes available through IBM Personal Computer, IBM Displaywriter, IBM 3101, and Televideo 950 terminals. Library automation discussion starts. Elizabeth L. Pohl of Law Libraries of New England News, writes in the WPLLA newsletter that “Library management and staff should educate themselves about automation. … to protect themselves from obsolescence … and to make informed decisions.”October … President Agnes Robinson sets out her goals for the Chapter. She writes, “I shall attempt to enhance the viability of our members…through continual education opportunities” about law librarianship. “As we move periodically from the world of work to the world of ideas, we return offering visible proof that it is possible for our members to prosper and extend the frontiers of knowledge.”
February… Barbara Stewart resigns as vice president / president elect due to work-related obligations. Joel Fishman fills the post. Brown bag lunch program discusses trademarks. Bob Berring scheduled to speak at the annual banquet at University Club in Oakland. Allegheny County Law Library offers cataloging assistance to members. Processing charges are roughly $3.31 a title.May … Spring workshop on asbestos litigation, environmental law and planning through storyboarding (using storyboard to analyze and visualize a parts of a problem.)September… A guest article first published in another law library association’s newsletter discusses the advantages of email -- quicker, no phone tag, received immediately, and more conversational. This is the first mention of email in WPLLA’s newsletter. OnTyme II was the system mentioned. Suggested readings: “Answers online: Your guide to informational databases;” “Using a microcomputer for online searching.”The Third Circuit Library expands, adding an additional 3600 square feet after post office moved from the courthouse.
January… Two-day workshop planned on Introduction of Computers covering word processing and using DBaseII and Lotus 1-2-3. June … President Marc Silverman calls for more members to get involved and offer space for meetings. An excerpt from a Sept. 1985 Lawyer’s PC Magazine estimates 2400 public databases exist and 95 percent of information published in past 12-15 years is available on them. October … The fall dinner business meeting has excellent attendance. A questionnaire for long term planning is circulated. Early plans are made to offer educational programs during Law Librarian’s Day of National Law Week for April 1987.Placement service still working. An exchange day where colleagues could shadow each other is suggested.November… Half-day workshop presented by Nancy Erwin of USX Corp on “What to do when faced with cutbacks.”December … Mayor of Pittsburgh is expected to declare a day in April during National Law Week as Law Librarian’s Day.Marilyn Seymour presents a program on dealing with stress and burnout. Joel Fishman publishes “Microcomputer software policies: Suggested guidelines for law libraries.” It discusses floppy disks, acquisitions, funding, cataloging and patron use and circulation. Ann Unger is point person for automation discussion, such as cataloging software packages, acquisitions and text management for micro or minicomputers.Interested reading snippet includes “Lowering the costs of computer-assisted research” and “the Un-automated Librarian’s dictionary – an irreverent aid to faking it if your Library doesn’t have a computer yet.”Optical disc technology is the newest wave. “It’s coming and it’s coming fast,” says a speaker at a PA State Library technology workshop. Other ideas are that the novel of the future will be read on compact disc. A compact disc is estimated to hold 815 books at 270 pages each.
October … Marilyn Seymour is president. Dittakavi Rao returns from Wyoming to Duquesne Law Library. Rao provides a guide to finding public laws by title. Human Resource – hiring, interviewing and firing program is held.
January … Patty Horvath presents program “How are firm librarians perceived by firm administrators.” Main themes include conveying library’s importance, job duties and descriptions, and increasing law librarian salaries.Robert Byer of Eckert Seamans presents a program on Pennsylvania research simplified – effective legal research and advantages/disadvantages of Lexis and Westlaw. A liaison from AALL meets with WPLLA leadership and provides suggestions to revitalize the chapter. Suggestions include: focus on continuing education programs, a consistent newsletter, varying meeting times and places, making new members feel welcome, keeping inactive members informed of activities but concentrating on active members.Jean McBride joins as a new member. Dittakavi Rao provides a comparison of Westlaw and Lexis features including a summary of command style searching. March … Rick Kundravi, risk manager for Braddock General Hospital, discusses risk management and quality assurance in healthcare in a joint meeting with Medical Library Association. An article talks about a new $4,500 IBM Model 50 computer for a law library. The Q&A software used for word processing and database capabilities “can underline, draw boxes, correct spelling, copy sections, … recall what you just erased, print columns, type envelopes and import data from databases,” writes Bette Dengel. It also warns you to save before exiting. April … AALL officer visits and gives program on cost-effective acquisitions.
March … Software demonstration program highlights Q&A and Library Helper, which generates book cards and spine labels. This month’s newsletter includes a survey of word processing, database, library management, and email, software at area law libraries. Among the titles: Enable, MASS II, Microsoft Word, PCWrite, WordStar; Dbase, PFS File, Q&A 1-2-3; Datatrek, InMagic; Bitcom, Smartcom, and Crosstalk.Dittakavi Rao writes a guide to Lexis research. Lexis was introduced in 1970 as DBAR, a legal research system for the Ohio Bar. April … Mellon Bank legal librarian Donna Kielar demonstrates the Datatrek cataloging module.May … Alan Halock of Ohio State University Law Library discusses state of the profession and role of AALL to enhance profession’s relationship with legal community. Annual banquet held at Common Plea restaurant. Fall … Broadened AALL scholarship eligibility to all active members who are AALL and WPLLA members. Plans to write cost-effective acquisitions article for local bar association journal to commemorate Law Librarians Day. The Allegheny County Court of Common Please celebrates its Bicentennial with a one volume history of the court. Allegheny County Law Library purchases a Kurzweil Scanner Model 7520 to convert books and paper into WordPerfect packages. November … AALL executive director visits to begin plans for 1995 national convention in Pittsburgh.December … A program covering General Association Act of 1988 includes a in-depth discussion of the PA Business Corporation Law of 1988.
January University of Pittsburgh’s Barco Law Library begins ordering materials online with Notis. This centralized electronic system eliminates the need for typewriters and word processors.Spring … New directory and acquisitions survey circulated. March … Acquisitions program presented by Ann Orsag includes reducing treatise costs and potential book purchasing cooperative between Pittsburgh-area law firms and the Allegheny County Law Library. April … Continuing workshop “Law in a Day.”Summer … In an editorial, WPLLA President Ann Orsag underscores the “personal, professional response” of colleagues when she needs help, and laments the “minimalist image that Library users and managers have of us.” The first known law library listserv is launched and is described as a “computer conference.” Address is law-lib-request at UCDavis.edu.Fall … Frank Liu is scheduled to visit China and lecture on U.S. legal research methodologies in Beijing, and four universities, among other stops. Joint program with Medical Library Association: Succeed or survive: A case for image making. Topics include fine tuning image and influencing decision-makers in an “era of budget cuts and staff downsizing.”Dittakavi Rao visits India’s East Hill University and provides suggestions for the University law library development. “Computers are slowly getting into libraries in India,” Rao writes. Winter … The upcoming AALL national conference in Pittsburgh is discussed at the annual holiday party. The planning committee includes Frank Liu, Cindy Cicco, Barbara Alexander Klein, Bette Dengel, and Martha McKelvey.Rao writes a guide to retrieving U.S. Court briefs from Lexis.
February … Program on CD-ROM technology. March … Frank Liu discusses Chinese Law Libraries.Spring… Ann Orsag writes that area law libraries are experiencing “unanticipated position openings. Perhaps, the quality of our work has helped to promote law librarianship.”
February… Katherine Manners hosts meeting at State Correctional Institute, which has six law libraries. Spring … Ann Unger presents a program on Americans with Disabilities Act. Spring banquet held at Grand Course at Station Square. Featured speaker is a former attorney and Pittsburgh Pres editor. Fall … Tsegaye Beru and Margaret Ross scholarship to attend Northeast Regional Law Library conference.
President Dittakavi Rao’s goals are to “expose membership to email and internet” through programs. Programs include a visit to Ohio Regional Association of Law Libraries conference on the internet; copyright compliance; Christmas party held at the Frick Museum; PACER demonstration; CD-ROM demonstration; according to the 1993-1994 annual report.WPLLA forms an Internet committee.
AALL annual conference planning in Pittsburgh picks up. Frank Liu and Cindy Cicco spearhead the effort.Allegheny County Law Library unveils it’s online OPAC – ALLECAT in August. It’s the first county library in Pennsylvania to make a “turnkey system” available. Installation took 3 ½ years and includes 21,000 bibliographic records, 2,500 serial holdings and 1,200 patron records, according to the County Law Library. Jennifer Clacko and Patty Horvath received scholarships to attend AALL conference in Seattle. Bette Dengel, who attended, said she’ll remember the convention’s theme as “Internet – the Highway to the Future.” The internet was the “buzzword” on everyone’s mind, Dengel wrote.Online GPO databases for Federal Register (from 1994) and Congressional Record (from 1994) become available.Dittakavi Rao is praised for being a “pillar” of the newsletter for his guides on searching databases and the internet. Newsletter includes internet definitions. Highlights include:
January … Second annual dinner meeting held at Concordia Club. Jeff Tobe presents program on “Coloring outside the lines” that highlights a creative thinking process to solving problems. One suggestion -- ask a What if question at least once a day. For instance, what if gravity stopped for one minute each day? This may lead to breakthrough thinking, he says.February … Breakfast meeting includes discussion of copyright and fair use and the Copyright Clearing Center. Spring … There is “some debate about the value of the Internet as a legal research tool,” George Pike says in a newsletter profile. “(It has) a growing number of valuable resources” but they’re not as reliable as Lexis and Westlaw, he says.A newsletter article mentions a recent email virus hoax that beset AOL users. Though a hoax, it creates quite a stir. Experts conclude that an email virus couldn’t infect a computer. WPLLA targets area firms and companies for a $10,000 fundraising effort to support upcoming AALL conference. They compile frequently asked questions, fun facts and related guides about Pittsburgh in anticipation. May … Internet workshop with University of Pittsburgh led by George Pike. June … Final business meeting held at Victoria Hall.
January … Dinner meeting held. Also table talk program, where college students meet attorneys and law librarians, is hosted at University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Programs cover technology, prose litigants, trademarks, and a vide conference with MLA.
Spring … University of Pittsburgh Professor Stephen Almagno speaks about information ethics at the annual banquet. Katherine Manners writes about a discussion with a reporter, who was inquiring about what would happen if a county law library closed. Manners said the reporter and others didn’t seem to understand the purpose of a library. “A good library – is one that fulfills the needs of the community it serves,” Manners responds.Another newsletter piece by Ronda Fisch muses about what the law library’s role will be in the pending transformation created by the Internet and other technology advances. Summer … Email addresses added to directory entries. Popular web browsers include, Netscape, Internet Explorer, Lynx, MetaCrawler, SavvySearch and Lycos. Mary Stacy joins as a member. Fall … President Joanne Mast’s newsletter message expresses concerns about the Internet’s impact on the profession. A tribute to Jim Wiltse, a long-time Westlaw representative in the area , recounts that he was inspirational, and “mastered” electronics when they “took over the industry.”Popular search engines are Excite, HotBot, Alta-Vista, Infoseek Ultra, Yahoo, and LibClient. The U.S. Supreme Court recently publishes its first Internet cite in an opinion.WPLLA’s newsletter includes the slogan “Ask a Law Library professional.”
Winter … A 20th anniversary weekend retreat in Lancaster is planned for May.
Newsletters for this time period aren’t available.
2005 – 2006
Officers for 2005-2006: President, Louise Beswick; Vice-President/President/Elect, Sonya Koros; Secretary, Mary Stacy; Treasurer, Michele Kristakis; Board Members, Linda Tashbook and Barbara Cage; and Immediate Past-President, Marguerite Young-Jones.
2006 – 2007
Sonya Koros accepts the torch of leadership from Immediate Past-President Louise Beswick. Accompanying Sonya on the Executive Board were Mary Stacy, Vice-President/President Elect; Lauren Vucic, Secretary; Karen Shephard, Treasurer; and Board Members Barbara Cage and Jamie Yoder.
2007 – 2008
Mary Stacy steps up as WPLLA president, following the skilled guidance of Sonya Koros, Immediate Past-President. She is joined on the Executive Board by Lauren Vucic, Vice-President/President/Elect; Melanie Cline, Secretary; Karen Shephard, Treasurer; and Board Members Jeff Jones and Jamie Yoder. Committee Chairs were Sonya Koros, Care, and Nominations; Joel Fishman, Historian; Ann Unger, Membership; Susan Broms, Mentoring; Jamie Yoder, Newsletter; Lauren Vucic, Programs/Continuing Education; Louise Beswick, Public Relations; and Linda Tashbook, Web.
May… Members and past presidents gather at Six Penn Kitchen for the Annual Banquet and 30th Anniversary commemoration. Frank Liu and Joanne Mast share memories of their presidencies. Some 40 people attend.
30 Years of WPLLA History
Compiled by Jeff Jones with Sallie Smith