By Timothy Coggins, Director and Associate Law Professor, University of Richmond School of Law Library and by Hazel Johnson, Law Libraries Services Consultant, Richmond, VA
Reflecting the theme, "At the Crossroads: Information Management, Technology, and Policy," the programs at the 1999 Annual Meeting will confront the issues facing law librarians as the 21st Century approaches. We are at an important crossroads.
We must position ourselves not only to survive but also to thrive in the technology based world that continues to evolve around us. Within each of the five tracks at the Annual Meeting - Management; Technology; Information Access and Policy; Foreign, Comparative, and International; and Technical Services - there is a plethora
of programming designed to help law librarians address important millennium issues.|
The Technology track includes exciting ideas and dynamic speakers. It's All in the Books, Right?: The Ethical Perils of Ignoring Electronic Legal Resources in the Information Age features Judge Robert E. Payne (E.D. Va.) who wrote one of the first opinions acknowledging that attorneys have a duty to stay "abreast of developments in the law" and that there are numerous resources, including online services, addressing this purpose. Encryption at the Crossroads features Marc Rotenburg, compiler of The Privacy Law Sourcebook, Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and one of the organizers of the grassroots campaign against Lotus Marketplace. The program will feature a discussion of PGP, the current industry standard for email encryption, and current and proposed legislation regulating the use and export of strong encryption products. The proliferation of electronic products, the Hyperlaw decision and the burgeoning number of legal documents found on the Internet has escalated the need for a uniform citation system. The principal drafters of AALL's new Universal Citation Guide will "state their case" for adoption of the guide during the program, AALL's Universal Citation Guide on Trial. A panel of judges representing various segments of the legal system will cross-examine the drafters about the potential problems and impact of such a system on the way judges, lawyers, scholars, and others work.
Among the Information Access and Policy track programs, Unauthorized Practice of Law 1999 will feature representatives from Nolo Press, which is currently under investigation by a subcommittee of the Supreme Court of Texas for producing materials which assist individuals to do their own legal work. The preservation of the digital records created by federal agencies is one of the greatest challenges of the upcoming millenium. Lawyers, scholars, judges, and reporters have an interest in how the federal government and the national Archives and Records Administration plans to meet this challenge. Federal Information Policy and Agency Recordkeeping at the Crossroads will feature Scott Armstrong, a noted author and journalist, and Dr. Lewis Belardo of NARA debating the issue. The consolidation in the legal publishing industry affects law librarians every day. The two-part program, Meeting of the Minds at the Crossroads of Legal Information, offers a panel of law book publishers participating in a roundtable discussion on the state of legal publishing today. Part Two will feature a panel of law librarians reacting to the points made by the publishers.
The Technical Services and Foreign, Comparative and International tracks feature programs of value to everyone, not just the librarians who specialize in those two fields. Crosswalks to Information Management: Metadata focuses on one of the cutting edge issues of searching the Internet. What is metadata? How can it make storage and retrieval of information more accurate? How will it affect search engines? The emergence of electronic publications has caused librarians to rethink the definition of a serial. The program Loose-leafs at the Crossroads: Redefining Seriality will focus on the ongoing discussions of proposals to re-define seriality and the impact that may have on cataloging and processing traditional materials and their new electronic counterparts. The globalization of the world's economy makes the quest for the law of other countries a daily challenge. Three programs will provide insights into researching U.S. trading partners: From Russia with Law; Cuban Legal and Political System, and Our Neighbors to the North and South.
Many law firm librarians labor on research projects and wonder how much time will be billed to the client. The program, Getting the Client to Value Legal Research, in the Management track will offer a number of suggestions about ways to present librarian research time and tools to be used in the client-retention process. The ubiquity of technology in today's law libraries often requires that technology professionals be employed in the law library. Ensuring that all employees understand the need for well-compensated technology staff is the focus of How to Hire the Right Computer People and Keep Them from Crossing the Road.
These programs are just a sampling of the more than 70 programs scheduled for the 1999 Annual Meeting. Want to know more? Watch for "Crossroads Spotlights" postings on the dcedprog and law-lib listservs.