Advocacy

PrintEmail

New Location for AALL Government Relations Office
In August, the AALL Government Relations Offices moved from Georgetown University to a new location. The office's new contact information is:

25 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20001
Fax: 202/737-0480

Bintliff and Stiverson Participate on Drafting Committee on Authentication and Preservation of State Electronic Legal Materials
At its July 2009 meeting, the Executive Committee of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) accepted the recommendation of its study committee to move forward in drafting an act that will provide guidance to states on authenticating and preserving electronic legal materials. The study committee first convened in October 2008 to determine whether it would be useful to create a uniform law to require state online legal materials, especially those considered to be official, to be authenticated and preserved.

Michele L. Timmons, Minnesota revisor of statutes and NCCUSL commissioner, chaired the study committee, and Barbara A. Bintliff participated as AALL's observer. Timmons, who attended the 2007 National Summit on Authentication of Digital Legal Information, was named chair of the new Drafting Committee, and Bintliff was named its reporter. Keith Ann Stiverson served as AALL's official observer to the Drafting Committee.

AALL Submits Comments to ABA Standards Review Committee
AALL submitted statements to the ABA Council on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar on the report of the Special Committee on Security of Position and on the Comprehensive Review of Standards and Interpretations. The comments were submitted by Barbara Bintliff, AALL's representative to the council and professor of law and director of the University of Colorado Law Library. Comments from both the Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section and the Research Instruction and Patron Services Special Interest Section are posted on the council's website.

Washington Post Quotes Baish on Federal Register XML Launch
On October 5, 2009, the White House, the Government Printing Office (GPO), and the National Archives and Records Administration's Office of the Federal Register launched the XML version of the Federal Register (FR). In its report on the launch, the Washington Post quoted Mary Alice Baish, director of the AALL Government Relations Office: "This is a win-win situation for business, the regulatory community and consumers. We see law libraries being able to use the data for empirical research by law professors who want to track agency activities. For being able to track trends in the regulated industries. Even for studies of semantics and language."

The XML version of the FR is now available through GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys), the Federal Register website, and Data.gov. While each of these websites offers the XML for public use, it is important to note that only FDsys provides access to the official, digitally-signed PDF version of the FR. AALL asked that a disclaimer be added to all of the FR datasets and tools on Data.gov explaining this important distinction. New disclaimer language was also added on October 6.

AALL Submits Comments to the FTC on Prenotification Negative Option Rule
On October 8, 2009, AALL submitted comments as part of the Federal Trade Commission's Prenotification Negative Option Rule Review. The current rule serves to protect individual consumers only. The serial nature of law library collections is such that libraries regularly receive unanticipated materials from legal publishers that have not explicitly been ordered, are unwanted, and result in significant costs to the library. The Committee on Relations with Information Vendors (CRIV) drafted the comments, which request that the rule be expanded to include law libraries as institutional consumers. Attachments include the texts of recent settlements by the Florida attorney general with two legal publishers for unfair publishing practices.

SNELLA and AALL Celebrate Restored Funding for Connecticut's Courthouse Law Libraries
AALL worked closely with the Southern New England Law Librarians Association (SNELLA) to oppose the announced closure of six of the 15 courthouse libraries in Connecticut. They jointly sponsored online petitions to save the courthouse libraries in Bridgeport, Hartford, Litchfield, Milford, and Norwich. The sixth library, at the Willimantic Courthouse, was not staffed, and its small collection will likely be moved to the local public university. Each petition included a compelling statement by a leader of the local bar association, whose members stand ready to join forces with us.

In addition to the petitions, on December 23, 2009, AALL and SNELLA sent joint letters to Connecticut's Governor Rell and to the leadership of the Appropriations Committee strongly opposing the decision, which was announced by Judge Barbara M. Quinn, chief court administrator. The closures became necessary, according to Quinn, after the executive branch cut $12.9 million from the budget for the judicial branch.

On May 7, 2010, Connecticut's 2010-2011 fiscal year budget was adopted, and it includes adequate funding for the judicial branch to keep open three courthouse law libraries that had been threatened with closure. For more information about our successful fight to save the Bridgeport, Hartford, and Litchfield law libraries, please see AALL's Case Study.

Update on LAW.GOV Proposed Repository for Legal Materials
AALL continued work with Law Librarian of Congress Roberta Shaffer and Carl Malamud of PublicResource.Org on "LAW.GOV," a proposed registry and repository of all primary legal materials of the United States and international governmental bodies. The three groups are working to develop a government-wide collaboration to build the repository.

The Law Library of Congress is pursuing the registration of the "LAW.GOV" domain to serve as a portal for authoritative local, state, national, foreign, and international legal and legislative information. It is planned for the site to serve as a one-stop URL and repository for this information. AALL issued a letter in support of the Law Library of Congress' application for the domain name in early January.

PublicResource.org hosted a series of workshops across the country to seek input on the project. The first workshop was held on January 12, 2010, and hosted by Paul Lomio and Erika Wayne at Stanford University's Robert Crown Law Library. As a result of the first workshop, Stanford's Wayne took the lead in developing a prototype for a national inventory of all primary legal resources extending to all levels of government.

NCCUSL Committee Met in Chicago March 5-7
The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) Drafting Committee on Authentication and Preservation of Electronic State Legal Materials met in Chicago March 5-7, 2010, to discuss the current draft of Authentication and Preservation of State Electronic Legal Materials Act. The final version of the act will include a prefatory note to explain the nature of the problem that the law seeks to address, as well as comments that will help flesh-out the details. As reported in October, the committee's reporter is Barbara A. Bintliff, and Keith Ann Stiverson attends meetings as AALL's observer.

AALL's Government Relations and Electronic Committees reviewed the draft, and their suggestions were the basis for the formal comments that AALL submited to the drafting committee.

It is gratifying to see the Association's hard work and leadership on these issues bear fruit since the spring 2007 publication of the State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Information and our National Summit on Authentic Legal Information in the Digital Age. Thanks also to Michele Timmons, chair of the Drafting Committee and a summit delegate, who proposed that NCCUSL study these issues.

Emily Janoski-Haehlen, chair of the ELIAC Committee, also announced that the 2009-2010 updates to the 2007 State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Information Executive Summary, along an executive summary, are now available. Thanks to all the state authors who researched and wrote the updates, Janoski-Haehlen and her hard-working committee, and especially Tina Ching, who served as editor of the updates.

AALL Testifies in Support of Funding for U.S. Government Printing Office
Mary Alice Baish, director of the AALL Government Relations Office, testified on February 24, 2010, before the House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee in support of the Government Printing Office's (GPO) FY 2011 budget request. Baish emphasized the need to:

  • fully fund the Congressional Printing and Binding request so that federal depository libraries can continue to have the option of receiving congressional materials in print;
  • fund the Federal Digital System (FDsys) at the requested $8 million so that GPO can complete the migration of the GPO Access system into FDsys, including the entire electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR);
  • encourage GPO and the Library of Congress to enter into a formal Memorandum of Understanding through which GPO and the law library would partner on the digitization of historic legal resources, beginning with the U.S. Statutes at Large, so that the digital files could be made available through both FDsys and THOMAS; and,
  • urge GPO to capture content from agency websites to be ingested into FDsys as part of GPO's core mission to provide access to current government information.

Also testifying at the hearing were Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ-12) and Dr. Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who both spoke in support of refunding the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). AALL strongly opposed the elimination of OTA's funding in 1995 because during its 23 years, OTA issued important unbiased reports on complex science and technology issues that helped Congress develop policy. AALL was among 41 signatories to a letter that Grifo submitted with her testimony. Subcommittee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-20) indicated interest in funding OTA next year and asked Holt to review OTA's current authorization to determine if any changes are needed.

AALL Contributes to Audit of Federal Agency Open Government Plans
The Obama Administration's December 8, 2009, open government directive (OGD) required agencies to post open government plans to their websites by April 7, 2010, detailing specific actions they will take to make their agencies more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. AALL was among the many nonprofit groups that recently participated in an audit organized by OpenTheGovernment.org (OTG.org) to rank agency plans based on whether agencies met or exceeded each of the requirements of the OGD.
Overall, the audit found wide variation in agency plans, and OTG.org suggested to the agencies, especially those that received low scores, that they revise their plans based on the feedback in the audit and provide the auditors with new versions in June.

AALL and NOALL Send Letter in Support of Louisiana State University's MLIS Program
On June 3, 2010, AALL and the New Orleans Association of Law Libraries (NOALL) sent a joint letter to the Louisiana State University (LSU) Board of Supervisors to oppose the recommendation announced by Chancellor Michael Martin on May 24 to eliminate the MLIS program at LSU. The letter stated that while we understand that the current fiscal crisis facing Louisiana necessitates a review of the university's academic programs, we believe this shortsighted decision will have a serious negative impact on the citizens of Louisiana, especially those in underserved populations. In addition to AALL president Catherine Lemann, the letter was signed by AALL Immediate Past President James Duggan, NOALL President Brent Hightower, and NOALL Immediate Past President Miriam Childs. All four are proud graduates of LSU's School of Library and Information Science.

Peggy Roebuck Jarrett Appointed to Depository Library Council
Public Printer Robert C. Tapella announced on June 3, 2010, the appointment of five new members to the Government Printing Office's (GPO's) Depository Library Council, including AALL member Peggy Roebuck Jarrett. The council is composed of 15 members, each of whom serves a three-year term and advises the public printer on policy matters relating to the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Jarrett joined AALL members Sally Holterhoff and Camilla Tubbs on the council. Victoria Trotta  completed her final year.
Jarrett is documents and reference librarian at the University of Washington Gallagher Law Library. Working at the library since 1990 and in this position since 1994, she has overseen the library's participation in the FDLP, including its successful transition to an increasingly electronic program. The Gallagher Law Library was the first law library to be recognized in GPO's 2009 November Depository Library Spotlight for its exemplary services and innovations in providing free public access to government information.