Message from the Chair
By Rosalie Sanderson, 2001-2002 ALL-SIS Chair
New York Law School
50 Worth St.
New York, N.Y.
I extend my deepest sympathy to those members who have lost friends or
loved ones in the September 11 tragedy. No one's life can remain untouched
by the losses and personal suffering we have all observed during the past
Strangely, the tragedy may have inadvertently highlighted the importance
of information and information instruction in today's world.
"Information may be the most important asset we have" according
to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Ms. Rice made this remarkable
pronouncement during a recent press briefing [Transcript
of White House Press Briefing with Condoleezza Rice, National Security
Adviser, U.S. Newswire]. She was discussing difficulties in combating
terrorism compared to waging traditional war. If information is truly
the most important asset we have, what implications does that have for
academic law librarians? What is our proper role in educating prospective
attorneys, teaching them about information access, encryption, and storage?
Should this change the way we think about our role in legal education,
or perhaps the way law school administrators think about our role(s)?
The recent tragedy and Ms. Rice's statement provide the occasion for
some thoughtful reconsideration of our place in the institutions where
we work. If information is indeed the most important asset we have, then
we as law librarians and legal educators have a special responsibility
to provide access to information and instruction on information access
in the electronic age.
I hope that this new academic year has found all of you safe and engaged
in exciting activities in law librarianship. As you know ALL-SIS is one
of 13 SISs. Most SISs are focused on topical interests of the members,
such as Legal History and Rare Books. The ALL-SIS is one of three SISs
which derives its commonality from the type of library in which the members
work, rather than a topical concentration or interest. There has been
some discussion during the past year of restructuring the three type SISs
to create "divisions." Whether this administrative change ultimately
occurs or not, it is worth considering the focus of the ALL-SIS.
We currently have more than 800 members working in many different positions
in academic law libraries: catalogers, directors, reference librarians,
etc. In recent years, many new position titles have been added to academic
law library staffs. Because we have such a range of professional responsibilities
in our respective institutions, it is inevitable that some endeavors we
pursue as an SIS may not have direct impact on every member.
Where, then, do we derive our strength as an organization and what is
our focus? I think we get strength from each other because we all share
a role in legal education. Our career interests may be very broad, but
legal education brings us together. We all work with students and faculty.
Because we work with law students at such a critical time in their professional
development, we have unique opportunities to reach them and open doors
to an interest in legal research, libraries, and electronic information
access. If we are not already teaching, working with students and professors,
actively collecting materials to support student research and coursework,
we should make an effort to re-examine our roles in our law schools and
find opportunities to participate in legal education.
There are many opportunities. Sometimes we have to work to create occasions
to interact with faculty curriculum committees or facilities committees,
or legal writing committees or departments. Other times we need to seek
out opportunities to meet student research needs as they arise and anticipate
needs for teaching, training or collection additions. At times students
realize needs and simply demand that we meet them.
Let us make a special effort to reach out to each other in our own institutions
as well as to our colleagues in other institutions to find ways that we
can participate more fully in the life of our law schools and the education
of future attorneys. We as a group have responsibility for information,
"the most important asset." Let's find effective ways to share
our knowledge of information access and delivery with each other and our