AALL takes a leadership role in shaping the future of the law library profession by promoting the value of law librarians and by supporting our members in a variety of ways. Membership in AALL allows law librarians to connect with their colleagues across the nation and build their leadership skills. By joining special interest sections, serving on committees, and attending the Annual Meeting and Conference, AALL members meet new people, build relationships, and share ideas and skills. This year members served on more than 30 committees, playing integral roles to make law librarians leaders in legal information, research, and technology.
Paving the Way for a New AALLNET
Appointed by President James Duggan at the 2008 Annual Meeting, the AALLNET Strategic Planning Special Committee was charged with examining the future of AALLNET and overseeing its redesign. The committee administered a survey to determine members' opinions about the future of AALLNET. More than 850 members submitted valuable information about what they like and don't like about the current website and, most importantly, about what they'd like to see on the new site.
The committee met in Chicago to review the findings of and recommendations based on the AALLNET survey, interviews with AALL members, and questionnaires completed by committee members and staff. The recommendations included purchasing a content management system, improving member self-service resources, and implementing online communities, among others.
After requesting proposals from several vendors, the committee selected SYSCOM, Inc., in mid-2009 to design a new website with the features members need, such as personalized content, more accurate search results, web 2.0 tools, and a content management system that will allow members with varying technical skills to manage their content with ease. The committee anticipates that the new website will be unveiled at the 2010 AALL Annual Meeting in Denver.
Take the Lead: 2008 AALL Leadership Academy
Sponsored by BNA, AALL's first Leadership Academy took place October 3-4. By attending this program, new law librarians in the early stages of their careers learned how to get out in front in the profession. The academy develops and trains law librarians for leadership roles by equipping them with the strategies and techniques needed to achieve success and professional excellence.
The program featured speaker Dr. Barbara Mackoff, leadership educator and widely-acclaimed expert in understanding the way leaders think. Her presentations involved each participant in identifying the foundations of his or her unique potential and learning to respond to the challenges of change.
AALL selected 35 members to attend the 2008 AALL Leadership Academy: Cynthia Bassett, John Beatty, Alicia Brillon, Bret Christensen, Whitney Curtis, Jennifer Davitt, Marin Dell, Catherine Dunn, Cheryl Fischer, Eugene Giudice, Cameron Gowan, Deborah Hackerson, Edward Hart, Maggie Hobden, Paul Howard, Robert Hudson, Diana Jaque, James Kelly, Laura La Rose, Theresa (Tracy) Leming, Sarah Mauldin, Teresa Miguel, Melanie Oberlin, Elizabeth Outler, Sara Paul, Jessica Randall, Ryan Saltz, Courtney Selby, Christine Sellers, Monica Sharum, Aperna Sherman, Matthew Steinke, Amy Taylor, Candle Wester-Mittan, and Annmarie Zell.
Professional Legal Management Week Held October 6-10
Professional Legal Management Week (PLMW) provides a forum for recognizing those in legal management for what they do and the roles they play in the success of their organizations. AALL is one of 11 associations that co-sponsored the 2008 event with the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) and encouraged members to plan and promote events for the week.
SCCLL-SIS Releases Resource Guide on Management Essentials
The State, Court, and County Law Libraries Special Interest Section (SCCLL-SIS) published a new resource guide in its Law Library Insights series. Third in a series of four guides, "Management Essentials in the Public Law Library" discusses key management principles for public law libraries.
The guide explores five core principles of management through insightful articles written by members of the SCCLL-SIS:
- Budget/financial planning and negotiation
- Working with the board
- Community relations
- Service development and collection rebalancing
- Managing resources
Changes for AALL Headquarters
At its fall meeting, the AALL Executive Board approved the creation of a Membership Marketing and Communications Department at AALL Headquarters. The new department will allow AALL to create a comprehensive marketing and communications plan; integrate the Association's communications, including print publications, AALLNET, and electronic communications; and conduct research and data collection of members' interests and needs. Ultimately this department will improve member communications and services.
Julia O'Donnell, director of membership marketing and communications, heads the new department. Also part of the team are Hannah Phelps, membership services coordinator, and Hillary Baker, marketing and communications manager.
Another major change took place on June 1, when AALL moved its Headquarters office just a few blocks away to the Clark and Adams building in downtown Chicago. The move was an effort to reduce office rental expense, while also increasing office efficiency. Though smaller, the new office comprises an entire floor designed to meet AALL's specific needs. The new space includes a conference room where AALL can host committee and other meetings previously hosted off-site, saving additional AALL resources. Headquarters' new address is: 105 W. Adams Street, Suite 3300, Chicago, IL 60603.
New AALL Annual Meeting/Workshop Grant Category Created
The AALL Grants Committee announced the creation of a new Annual Meeting/Workshop Grant category. Grants are now awarded in two categories:
- Experienced members (five or more years), who have a proven record of professional accomplishment and service to AALL
- Students/new members (less than five years of professional experience), who hold promise of future involvement in AALL and the law library profession
Previously, only newer members and students were encouraged to apply. The committee felt that many experienced members are also in need of assistance in order to attend AALL Annual Meetings or an extra workshop.
Annual Meeting and Workshop Grants are awarded to cover the Annual Meeting registration fee or the registration fees for workshops presented at the Annual Meeting. Vendors, AALL, and AALL individual members provide the funds for grants.
LHRB-SIS Announces the Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition
The Legal History and Rare Books Special Interest Section, in cooperation with Gale Cengage Learning, announced the first annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. Currently enrolled students attending accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, or related subjects are eligible to enter the competition. Students may be enrolled either full or part time. Winners receive $500 and up to $1,000 to fund a trip to the AALL Annual Meeting.
AALL Co-Sponsors China Conference
The China-U.S. Conference on Legal Information and Law Libraries was held in Beijing, May 27-30. Sponsored by China 's Ministry of Education, AALL, and the International Association of Law Libraries, the conference presented an unprecedented opportunity for American and Chinese law librarians and legal educators to meet together and exchange views and experiences. The conference aimed to deepen participants' knowledge of each country's legal information system and explore areas for cooperation.
Results of AALL Economic Outlook Survey
In mid-March 2009, AALL conducted a survey of law library directors to understand how the current economic crisis is affecting the profession. The survey was intended to help determine how widespread law library staffs have been affected by layoffs, furloughs, reduction of benefits, and/or budget cuts. More than 400 members responded for a 34 percent response rate.
Full results of the survey were posted on the AALL Tools for Success wiki in mid-April. Overall, 23 percent of law libraries had experienced staff reductions, the overwhelming number ranging from one to five full-time employees laid off. Nearly 20 percent of law libraries had eliminated vacant positions, and more than 63 percent had a hiring freeze in place. Hardest hit were the private law libraries; 30 percent had experienced staff reductions, and nearly 72 percent had a hiring freeze in place. Only about 10 percent of academic law libraries had reduced their staffs, but 45 percent had a hiring freeze in place. A little more than 15 percent of state, court, and county law libraries had experienced layoffs, and 57 percent had a hiring freeze.
In terms of budget cuts, more than 60 percent of all respondents had already experienced budget cuts. Again, private law library budgets had seen the most cuts; nearly 73 percent had been cut, and about a quarter of respondents had seen cuts of 15 percent or more. Nearly half of academic law library budgets were so far untouched, and about 40 percent of state, court, and county law library budgets also had remained steady, but many anticipated cuts in the next fiscal year.
Book Drive in Washington, D.C.
In 2008-2009 the Social Responsibilities Special Interest Section and AALL continued the tradition of giving something back to the community that hosts our Annual Meeting through our 11th annual Children's Book Drive.
"Uncle Sam Wants Your Books!" was the theme of this year's drive, which benefited the Heather Hill Elementary School. Heather Hill Elementary is in the Prince George's County School District, a Maryland county that borders D.C. It is the 17th largest school district in the country, with a high population of under-served minorities and immigrants. It is also one of the most disadvantaged and economically distressed districts in Maryland, struggling with recent budget cuts and a community that has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Heather Hill Elementary serves a special population as it is a TAG magnet school, which, although it provides many opportunities for the students, also creates an extra burden for the constant renewal of library resources.
A Day in the Life of the Law Library Community
A Day in the Life of the Law Library Community, the AALL photo contest conducted by the AALL Public Relations Committee, returned in 2009. During the month of February, AALL members took a wide range of photographs of law librarians working, meeting, teaching, and doing all that law librarians do in a given day or week. Nearly 30 AALL members from 23 different law libraries across the country submitted 82 photos to the contest. Winning photographs as well as all of the "Day in the Life" entries may be viewed on AALLNET.
AALL Launches New Online Career Center
On July 16, AALL launched a new and improved interactive job board, the AALL Career Center. With its focus on law libraries and legal information professionals, the AALL Career Center offers members, and the profession at large, a highly-targeted resource for online recruitment.
For job seekers, the AALL Career Center is a free service providing access to employers and jobs in law librarianship. In addition to posting resumes, AALL members can browse or view jobs based on criteria that best match their career goals. Members can also post confidentially or search anonymously by creating a Job Agent, which sends notifications via email when jobs matching your criteria are posted, eliminating the need to visit the site daily to track new postings.
For employers, both members and non-members can use the AALL Career Center to reach qualified candidates. Employers can post jobs online, search for qualified candidates based on specific job criteria, and create a Resume Agent, which emails them qualified candidates daily. They also benefit from online reporting providing job activity statistics to track each job posting's return on investment.