RIPS Law Librarian
vol. 20, no. 3
Message From The Chair
Kory D. Staheli
I just received the preliminary program for the annul meeting
in Anaheim and it looks great! I always look forward to the annual
meeting and the opportunity to gather with friends and colleagues who share
my enthusiasm for law libraries. I have benefitted greatly both personally
and professionally over the years from attending the annual meeting.
This year I am particularly pleased with the number of opportunities RIPS
members will have to come together and interact. If you haven't done
so already, please take a few minutes and look at the RIPS activities listed
in the program index. In addition to the RIPS Business
Meeting, you will notice that we have arranged for a number of other activities,
including RIPS committee meetings and round table discussions. In
the past there was never enough time during the business meeting to accomplish
all we wanted to. Separate meeting times for committee work and discussions
should solve our time dilemma, and will hopefully allow us to accomplish
I was very pleased to learn from Gail Partin, RIPS Secretary/Treasurer,
that our membership continues to grow. Recent calculations show that we
have grown from 387 members in 1996 to nearly 450 members in 1997.
That is good news indeed! However, we would sure like to see more
participation from members. There was a very low response to our
call for volunteers in the last newsletter, and attendance at
our business meetings the past few years has been less than what
we would like to see (averaging between 35 and 50 in attendance).
If you have any desire at all to be involved, please let a member of the
Board know. We are not an elitist group, and there
are many opportunities available to become involved in this SIS at all
levels, including leadership.
Speaking of leadership, Gary Hill, our Nominations
Committee Chair, and his committee (Melissa Serfass and Meg Collins)
have given us an excellent slate of candidates to choose from for next
year's RIPS officers. Be sure to take the time to read their statements
and then vote.
Gail Partin and Karen Brunner continue to do an
outstanding job with the Legal Research Teach-in.
Without Gail and Karen's dedication over the years
I'm sure this worthwhile program would have died
out by now. I understand from Gail that Kristin
Gerdy was also a big help with the Teach-In this year.
A big thanks to all of you for your efforts.
Bobbie Studwell's Briefs in Law Librarianship Series
continues to do well. Not many members know that
Bobbie has donated the royalties from the sale of this
series directly to RIPS. Thanks Bobbie for your
commitment and ongoing support of the SIS. Bobbie has
also taken a leadership role in helping develop the RIPS Web Page, and
is doing an outstanding job. I understand that the Page will be up
and functioning on
AALLNET very soon. Look for more details in the next
Many of you have inquired about the Core Legal
Research Competencies document prepared by Ellen
Callinan and the former Research Instruction Caucus.
This document is now available on AALLNET in
space set aside for the RIPS Web Page. To get there, select
Leadership, then Specials Interest Sections, then SIS Listing, and finally
RIPS. If you plan to attend the program in Anaheim dealing with this
document, you may want to go on the web and familiarize yourself with its
The Board, along with the Publicity and Recruitment
Committee, has come up with what we feel will be a
great way to publicize the SIS at the Annual Meeting.
We are in the process of designing a very simple but
tasteful embroidered sticker with the word "RIPS" on
it that can be easily attached to the name tags of
conference attendees. We will be giving these
stickers away at the RIPS table in the exhibit hall and
also to CONELL attendees in an effort to publicize
our SIS. We encourage all RIPS members to stop by
and pick up a sticker, and then to wear it proudly!
by Jessie L. Cranford
There is often discussion about ensuring
that various constituencies recognize
the value of the library and give us
their continued support. However, because of staff
shortages and budgetary constraints, it is sometimes
difficult to enhance existing library services
or add new ones. What can librarians and staff
do to be perceived as more valuable? In recent years,
the UALR/Pulaski County Law Library Circulation
Department has offered two services that require
little additional overhead or manpower, but have proven to please patrons
-- a Telefax Service and a Faculty Photocopy Service.
Finding small things we can do to
further meet patron needs does create a greater sense of customer satisfaction.The
Circulation Assistant and the Assistant to the Director proposed and developed
Telefax Service in 1993 in response to frequent
student requests to send or receive personal faxes. It is offered
as a convenience to our patrons. Circulation desk workers send and
receive personal faxes for patrons for basically the same fee they
would be charged at the local Kinko's. Charges are $2.00 per page
to send a domestic fax, $11.00 for the first page and $5.00 for each subsequent
page to send an international fax, and $.50 per page to receive a fax.
The service makes just one more type of information technology easily accessible
to our patrons. Rather than costing the library money, it generates
a small amount, taking in $246 so far this fiscal year.
The Law Library began offering its Faculty
Service in 1992. The primary stated goal of
the service is enhanced library support of faculty research. An underlying
motive is to keep more of our journals on the shelves in the library and
not in faculty offices.
Instead of checking multiple periodicals or
out of the library, participating faculty
librarians with lists of citations, and the
staff makes copies of the needed journal articles
cases. The cost of the copies
is charged back to the
faculty member's budget.
Requests are routed to the Circulation Librarian
Circulation Assistant. Pulling and copying
assigned to student labor whenever possible.
circulation staff will do the copying if no
available. Completed requests are turned
in to the
librarian or assistant, who checks the copies
legibility and accuracy before delivering
them to the
professor. We strive for a maximum turnaround
of 48 hours, usually delivering the materials
same day the request is received.
are referred back to the Reference Librarian
Requests for articles from titles the library
does not own are sent to Interlibrary Loan.
Response to the service has been positive,
though cycles of use vary greatly. In 1992, the first year of the
service, the staff filled 20 faculty requests, copying 1,316 pages.
In 1997, the staff filled only seven requests, copying a total of 339 pages.
use to date was in 1996, when staff filled
totaling 1,991 pages.
Should library circulation departments offer
other "extra" services? While the bulk
Circulation Staff's duties still revolve around
routine things our patrons simply take for
checking items in and out, retrieving reserve
materials, routing phone calls, fixing copiers, stacks maintenance, looseleaf
updating, etc. -- finding small things we can do to further
meet patron needs does create a greater sense of customer satisfaction.
That works for me!
Jessie L. Cranford is the Circulation
UALR/Pulaski County Law Library in
Hot Topic: Electronic Course Reserves
by Duane Strojny
Since electronic course reserves are
not defined in any traditional dictionary and our library is trying to
deal with the issues surrounding them, I have come up with my own definition
that I plan to submit to Webster's and Collier's. At this point,
I am sure it is not technical enough, but hopefully it represents what
others consider electronic course reserve materials to be at this time.
electronic course reserves: (n)
1. the duplication of materials already in
paper format into computer readable and accessible format.
2. a complication of the current system
of delivering library reserve material to
patrons. (v) -ing (as in electronic course reserving)
3. the act of creating chaos in both the circulation
and computer services departments. also known as e-reserves or E-res.
Electronic course reserves are definitely a
hot topic. At this point, many academic law libraries are mounting
old exams on web sites. Others are developing more complicated set-ups.
For example, at Cooley, we are developing faculty course pages. In
addition to syllabi and course requirements, faculty are beginning to add
assignments and create class discussion lists. The problems of merging
traditional reserve desk procedures and technology are numerous.
More and more, librarians are becoming immersed in moving traditional course
reserves into new formats. This brief article will outline some of
the questions that need to be answered, relay my current experiences, and
discuss some of the resources out there to look at.
The list is long, but here is a shot at some
of the questions that we are grappling with.
1. Copyright - Do you need permission to mount
to a web site or intranet?
2. Duplication - Do you need to retain items
in print and online?
3. Decision-making - What departments are
involved in the decision making concerning the setup of the materials?
4. Education - What type of training
is necessary for patrons, staff and faculty?
5. Supervision - Who performs the day-to-day?
Circulation? Computer Services? Reference? Secretarial
Not only does a lot of communication need to
occur between library departments and faculty to make anything in electronic
format a reality, but there has to be room for trial and error. Students
are much more forgiving when told up front that they are being involved
in a pilot project. Follow up with a survey to help solicit their
A Personal Experience
We have a proactive Associate Dean of Library
and Information Services (a.k.a. director and computer guru) and Head of
Patron Services who are aware of many of the issues surrounding electronic
reserves. A pilot project for the current semester received little
enthusiasm from the selected faculty (teachers of first year classes with
items that most likely would not have sticky copyright issues). The
goal is to give it another try starting in May. One of the advantages
to a year round program is that we have the chance to try things three
times a year ( a new class of 200 to 400 begins three times each year!).
As far as exams are concerned, we have a thorough collection of exams given
since the beginning of the school (a mere twenty-five years). We
have been loading most of them on an internal student access network since
January of 1997 and are now working on some retroactive conversion.
Some faculty are experimenting with discussion lists and TWEN (The West
Educational Network) is one option faculty have. Our own template
for electronic course pages is not too bad. With faculty cooperation,
I believe we are on the right track for setting up electronic access to
many resources for the students.
Do you have questions about electronic course
reserves? There are a couple of listservs that might be helpful.
Try either tech-noids
The web site for the Electronic
Reserves Clearinghouse has links to nearly everything you would want
to know about e-reserves. As with all web sites, even though the
page was last updated on March 5, 1998 (at the writing of this article),
there are links that do not work or need to be tried at least twice for
University Library has a great page about copyright issues.
Finally, how about some print resources?
While these may become outdated as quickly as they are printed, articles
or books on the subject can put things in perspective and give us ideas
about what other people are doing. Take a look at Transforming libraries:
issues and innovations in electronic reserves, ALA Spec. Kit 217, October
Okay, there really is not too much else out
there. Even when I decided to put on my library researcher hat and
look in the indexes, what I found was minimal. In Library Literature,
you can look up Automation of library processes - Reserve collections.
In Legal Information Management Index search under ELECTRONIC. Maybe
something applicable will pop up.
It appears that networking with peers and checking
out other web sites is the best route to gain information about electronic
course reserves at this time. Each year, the CALI Institute in Chicago
brings together many from the legal education field to talk about technology.
Whatever your plan of attack, you can anticipate problems, questions and
a lot of work in developing policies and procedures at the beginning.
In the end, you can expect results that are interesting and exciting for
[Special thanks to Rita Marsala, Thomas M. Cooley
Law Library Head of Patron Services, for her insight into the world of
electronic course reserves.]
Duane Strojny is Associate Director
for Library and Information Services at Thomas M. Cooley Law School Library
in Lansing, MI.
The Wide, Wide World of Reference
by Melissa Serfass
Most of the lay patrons who use our
law library ask
reference questions that are fairly routine.
We do what we can to assist them, but
sometimes, they ask for something that just
doesn't exist. The following situation involved a patron
who knew exactly what he was looking for. He was just
having a little trouble pinning it down. Two librarians helped him.
They say it went something like this:
L1: Can I help you with the online catalog,
P: Yes, I need books on civil rights.
L1: Let me show you how to run a word search.
in "civil rights" and you will get a list
of books and their call numbers.
P: (After the list of titles came up, he scanned
it and said) No - this isn't what I need.
I need the civil rights of virgins.
L1: Of what?
P: Of virgins.
L1: They don't have any extra civil rights.
P: Yes they do. There is a city law that
housing for virgins.
L1: No, there isn't.
P: Yes, there is.
L1: Well, if there is it's in the Code of Ordinances
reserve. But I can tell you right now
you are wasting your time. I have to
leave, but there is another librarian here who
will help you if you have more questions.
A short while later he appeared at L2's door.
L2: Yes, can I help you?
P: The other lady said you could help me find
out about the civil rights of virgins.
L2: I'm not familiar with that law. What
P: There is a law that the city of Little Rock
provide free housing for virgins, such as
a man like myself. I know I found it
here once before. I think I can find the book
it was in.
L2: I've never heard of any such law
or case. Show
me the book.
P: Right here, this big book.
L2: The Webster's Third International Dictionary
Are you sure?
P: Yes, I'm sure. That's where it is.
L2: That book is a dictionary. There
aren't any laws in it. I can show you
books that contain laws if you would like.
P: No, I'll just look in here. This is where
I found it.
He spent several minutes looking through the
dictionary. Eventually, he was asked
to leave the library when he began to walk
in circles near the security gates. After an absence
of several months, he was in the library recently. He
didn't approach the reference desk, but somehow managed
to leave the library with a reserve copy of an expensive
Arkansas probate law.
Melissa Serfass is the Computer Services/Reference
Librarian at the UALR/Pulaski County
Law Library in
compiled by Jean Wenger
The quest to discover quality web
sites for use in
research instruction and patron services is
undertaking we have assumed in recent years.
patrons, whether law students, law faculty,
judges, have developed an insatiable need
to law-related resources. In the hunt
for sites, the
usual resource suspects come to mind: listservs,
professional journals/newsletter, conferences
continuing education programs.
Several notable Internet-based publications
another avenue for reaping an additional
useful web sites. With new editions
of these web
based services coming out at regular intervals,
scheduling a time to check for the latest
sites is easy.
BIGEAR: Current Legal Resources on the Net,
html is an experimental service created by
of the Cornell Legal Information Institute.
and archived weekly, BIGEAR selects messages
containing references to Internet documents.
entry contains the title of the document,
a link, and a
link to the message "announcing" it on the
Listservs monitored: LAWSRC-L, NET-LAWYERS,
TEKNOIDS, LAW-LIB, LEGAL-WEBMASTERS,
and INT-LAW. Cornell law librarians have annotated
selected sites of interest to legal researchers.
Law Library Resource
Xchange is a free web publication focusing on research,
management and technology topics for legal professionals.
Updated throughout the course of each month,
LLRX has feature articles, columns and departments
covering a wide range of information and technology
news. Archives of earlier editions are available
under the "Library" link. For the latest news,
free monthly e-mail updates are available upon request.
Law Library Resource Xchange is edited by Sabrina
I. Pacifici and Cindy Chick.
Report is published every Friday, both on the web
and by email, by the Internet Scout Project,
Computer Sciences Department, University of
Wisconsin. The Scout Report provides
reviews of valuable Internet resources including
related sites. See also Scout Report for the
Sciences at http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/scout/report/
the Scout Report for Business and Economics
and the Scout Report for Science and Engineering
Additionally, the web pages of print publications
provide selected full-text articles that can
Internet rewards. Database
magazine from Online Inc. is written for
the "hands on" searcher and manager of information.
from Online Inc., is a magazine covering
the selection, use, and management
of electronic information products. These web
sites have links to selected full-text articles and news
from each bimonthly issue of the magazine,
including an annual index.
In fact, many of the Internet newsletters that
cross our desks each month have web sites
full-text articles from their print counterpart.
By Jean Wenger, Librarian,Cook County