On February 28 - March 1, AALL hosted a vendor colloquium, "Creating, Disseminating, Using, and Preserving Legal Information in Challenging Times." AALL hosted 39 participants, including 15 vendors, 20 librarians, and four library stakeholders. The event was held at the Hyatt Lodge in Oak Brook, Illinois.
Our keynote speaker, Roberta Shaffer, AALL member and law librarian of Congress, kicked off the colloquium. She spoke of the information overload we each face on a daily basis. Indeed, the quantity of information we all try to process each day is equivalent to 174 newspapers. She challenged participants, questioning if our current practices with regard to legal and law related information align with current social, economic, and legal trends. She pointed out changing notions in what constitutes "authority" in this day and age and that commentators expect the day to come, in the near future, where judges will tweet their decisions from the bench.
At the conclusion of Shaffer's remarks, facilitator Maureen Sullivan led the group in conversations that were wide-ranging, introspective, and remarkably frank. The list of questions developed by the Vendor Colloquium Planning Committee, with input from AALL members, formed the basis of our discussions.
Among the topics discussed were:
- The need for transparent, civil discourse between vendors and librarians
- The need to preserve information that is not only born digital, but that has only a digital life cycle
- If and how librarians should be involved in sales by traditional legal publishers of non-library systems and services to their institutions
- The need to streamline purchasing, invoicing, and licensing procedures
- The need to align the vendors' desire to provide good customer service with the librarians growing experience that customer service is a dying art
The two days were enlightening for all attendees. We shared information, challenged our assumptions, and slowly, as a group, began to reach a consensus of what should be the shared principles between librarians and vendors in the production, dissemination, and use of legal information.
At the end of the colloquium, the group decided to form a working group, which will be named by March 11. This working group will be drawn from the librarians and vendors who attended the colloquium. The group will be charged with refining these shared principles and developing an action plan to make sure the principles are enacted. Once a draft statement has been written, it will be distributed to the membership. All members will have an opportunity to review and comment on the document.
In addition, an executive summary of the discussion is being developed. This effort is led by Steve Anderson of the Maryland State Law Library and Michael Bernier of BNA and will include of summary of the questions, answers, and discussion points of the meeting.
Joyce Manna Janto