Note: It would be impossible to recount all of the activities and programs of the past 25 years in this brief profile, nor note by name the many outstanding librarians who made them possible. However, I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has comments or additional information.
The Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section (ALL-SIS) celebrates its 25 th anniversary this summer at the annual meeting in Boston. The ALL-SIS was created at the 1979 AALL annual meeting in San Francisco. From its beginning the section has fostered cooperation and collaboration in academic law librarianship. Many outstanding educational programs and projects have resulted. Surprisingly, some of the first issues librarians tackled are still of critical concern today: work status and tenure, teaching, and legal education. Long time members have observed a number of changes over the years. They have many memories, some poignant, and some even hilarious. For example, who could forget the zany introduction to law librarianship in the “Alice in LawLibraryLand” skit at the 2000 annual meeting? This article attempts to illustrate the section’s history by a brief review of the section’s early days, its membership, organization and planning documents, programs and memorable projects.
The ALL-SIS began in 1979 at the AALL annual meeting in San Francisco. Fannie Fishlyn, Librarian Emerita of the University of Southern California, was among those who spearheaded a petition drive to establish academic librarians as an SIS. Interested librarians presented their petition, and it was approved by the AALL Executive Board.
At that time SISs were a relatively new group in AALL. They were established as organizational entities of AALL by the Executive Board at the 1976 annual meeting. State Court and County Law Librarians had already organized as a group in 1973, but when the Executive Board created special interest sections, they were officially recognized as an SIS and became the State Court and County Libraries Special Interest Section (SCCLL-SIS). That same year law firm librarians organized the Private Law Librarians Special Interest Section (PLL-SIS) to represent their interests. Academic law librarians were thus the last “type” SIS to organize. When asked why academic librarians followed rather than lead the path to organization, early leaders suggested that academic librarians felt well represented in the association without any special entity devoted to their interests. Nevertheless, the academics followed the other type SISs and petitioned to establish the ALL-SIS in the summer of 1979.
The section began with 47 members. The first year was quite busy with basic organizational tasks, writing bylaws and setting up communications. The bylaws were approved by the ALL-SIS membership in 1980. During the first year members started a newsletter, originally called the ALL Newsletter. The first issue reported the creation of the ALL-SIS. That issue was sent to every law school library director in the country to be sure that all academic law librarians knew about the new organization and had the opportunity to become members. According to the bylaws, the ALL-SIS sought “to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information on academic law libraries” and to represent academic interests in the AALL. During that first year the section also organized a program for the 1980 annual meeting on the status of academic librarians.
ALL-SIS grew slowly over the years from 47 members in 1979 to 1024 members today. While the ALL-SIS represents the interests of its members within the AALL, it is not an umbrella organization of all academic members of the AALL. To be a member of ALL-SIS librarians must apply for membership and pay dues. There are many academic law librarians who are active in AALL but who are not members of the ALL-SIS. Some academics join other SISs which relate closely to their positions, such as the Technical Services Special Interest Section (TS-SIS). Other academics belong to both the ALL-SIS and other SISs at the same time. At this time (spring 2004) there are 1024 members of the ALL-SIS. There are 5219 members of AALL, and 1841 are academic law librarians, so only 55% of the academic law librarians who are members of AALL are also members of the ALL-SIS.
All types of positions in academic law libraries are represented in today’s membership. There were several attempts to analyze membership data in the past. That data analysis indicates that directors and administrators have been heavily represented in the SIS. The Report of the Task Force on Long Range Planning by Nancy Carol Carter in January 1986 indicated that (45%) of the 305 members of ALL-SIS at that time were library directors, associate directors or administrators. Other positions represented were catalogers or acquisitions librarians (10%), reference librarians (7%), interlibrary loan librarians (4%), and foreign and international librarians (less than 1%). Unfortunately 19% of the members did not report job responsibilities.
The proportion of librarian administrators did not change significantly over the next decade. In the Membership Analysis Project of 1999 Ellen Platt, chair of the Membership Committee, reported that over 50% of the 800 section members were directors, associate directors or department heads. Other positions represented in the 1999 survey were reference librarians (17.32%), electronic services librarians (5.12%), catalogers, (3.66%), circulation librarians, (1.83%), government documents librarians (1.1%), special collections librarians, (.85%), and interlibrary loan librarians, (.37%). 13.9% of the librarians did not list position responsibilities or were not working as academic librarians.
In spite of the heavy representation of administrators in the membership, there was some concern in the late 1980s that library directors needed a vehicle for their particular issues. In spring 1988 Frank Houdek and Lynn Foster, the chair and chair-elect of the section, proposed that the section take on an additional role as a forum for library directors. They maintained that other topical SISs served the needs of those in other positions in academic law libraries, such as technical services, but that no component of AALL specifically addressed law library administration issues at that time. A year later at the 1989 annual meeting in Reno the section sponsored the first annual director’s breakfast. Programs on various administrative issues such as funding and staff training highlight the annual director’s meetings. The first annual middle managers breakfast followed at the 1990 annual meeting in Minneapolis.
Organizational Structure and Planning Documents
Organizational structure: officers, committees, roundtables,
The original bylaws provided the framework for organizational structure, specifying officers, an Executive Committee of officers, and a Nominations Committee. This structure gave the new SIS maximum flexibility for organizational development and permitted adding additional committees as needed. During the past 25 years several organizational devices have been used to further the section’s goals: task forces, roundtables, and committees. Task forces were usually appointed to examine and recommend actions on a particular issue. For example, in 1985 ALL-SIS chair Sandra S. Coleman created the Task Force on Long Range Planning chaired by Nancy Carol Carter to examine programming and organization. Roundtables began as discussion groups focused on a topic. The roundtables were proposed by the Task Force on Long Range Planning in 1986. At first roundtables met once a year at the annual meeting and did not have continuing responsibilities. Standing committees developed to deal with issues of continuing interest to librarians which required activity throughout the year, rather than only at the annual meeting. Over time, some of the roundtables evolved into standing committees. This year as the 25th anniversary occurs, ALL-SIS has five Task Forces and 22 committees working on subjects ranging from authoring CALI lessons to developing a toolkit for law librarians.
Planning Documents of 1986 and 2002
During its history work produced by several planning groups have had major impact on the Section’s activities, particularly the Report of the Task Force on Long Range Planning, ALL-SIS, submitted by Nancy Carol Carter, chair, 1986 and the Strategic Plan 2002 - 2005. The Strategic Plan was the culmination of work of various Strategic Planning Committees from 1999 - 2002. The final draft plan was submitted by Mark Bernstein, chair, in 2002.
Report of the Task Force on Long Range Planning (1986)
The long range planning report had an immediate effect on the operations of the SIS. The Task Force was appointed in an effort to revitalize the section, find some direction and respond to member needs. The report recommended changes in both communication and organization. Section leaders were urged to distribute news about the section’s activities and to take a leading role in speaking for academic law librarians, as well as to establish links with other organizations working in related areas. This effort to create liaisons with related organizations has been a recurring theme in the section’s history. The Task Force also analyzed the membership by job title, sex, size and geographic location of library in an effort to better understand the needs of members. (This was discussed in the Membership section above.)
The Task Force recommended that the SIS serve as an “umbrella” organization for roundtables devoted to specific topics. Members could discuss issues in the roundtables, report on the discussion and plan related educational programs. Perhaps most important, the Task Force suggested flexibility in formality, size and duration of the roundtables so that they could “come and go” as interest in the topic dictated. It was an informal arrangement based on interest in particular topics and issues.
Membership adopted the Report of the Task Force on Long Range Planning at the 1986 annual meeting and established three roundtables right away: Library Administration, Collection Development, and Middle Management. Roundtables on Teaching in Library Schools and Fees for Services soon followed. Just as the report recommended, the roundtables have come and gone as interest dictated. In the years since there have been roundtables on many different topics including Interlibrary Loan, Newer Law Librarians, Advanced Legal Research, User Surveys, Computer Assisted Legal Research, Continuing Status and Tenure, and Publications Requirements Roundtables.
Strategic Plan 2002 - 2005
The strategic planning process took place over several years. Ed Edmonds, chair of the section in 1998 - 1999, appointed a Strategic Planning Committee chaired by Billie Jo Kaufman. That committee developed a preamble and a mission statement. The mission of ALL-SIS was to provide “leadership in identifying the needs and concerns of academic law librarians, to develop appropriate programs and services to address them; and to represent the interests of academic law librarians within law schools, universities, and to other groups.” Several years of work lead to a draft of a strategic plan submitted by a committee chaired by Mark Bernstein. The draft plan was approved by the membership at the 2002 annual meeting. The plan identified strategic directions for the SIS relating to strengthening the role of the library and librarians in legal education and information policy and access. The plan also identified specific initiatives the SIS could undertake to further these directions, such as serving as a clearinghouse for legal research instruction. Various committees are working on initiatives identified in the strategic plan at this time. The plan is available on the web at http://www.aallnet.org/sis/allsis/strategic_plan.html.
ALL-SIS has several official vehicles of communications: The ALL-SIS Newsletter, the AL-SIS listserv, and the website. The ALL-SIS began publishing ALL Newsletter in its first year. It continues through the present. The name changed in 1989 to ALL-SIS Newsletter. The newsletter began as a semi-annual publication and later changed to three issues a year. There were some lapses in publication. From v.18, no. 1 in late 1998 the newsletter was published in print as well as online. The issue became an electronic only publication with volume 22, no. 1 in 2002.
The listserv began in 1996 when Mark Folmsbee and Washburn Law Library generously agreed to host the list until AALL took on that role. Traffic on the list is fairly light, but it gets heavier each year as the convention draws near. The website began in 1996 and has evolved over time. In addition to the ALL-SIS Newsletter, the website includes information about the section, officers, committees, reports of various committees, and historical documents including the bylaws and the current strategic plan.
Developing programs for the annual meeting was a major focus of the ALL-SIS during the early years, according to the annual reports of that era. Some of the programs sponsored were “The Status of Academic Law Librarians” (1980), “How Academic Libraries Teach LEXIS and WESTLAW” (1982), “Using the Small Computer as a Teaching Device” (1982), “The What, Where, Why, When and How of Getting Published” (1983), “The Proposed ABA-AALS Library Standards and their Impact on the Inspection Process” (1984), and “Legal Education and the Practice of Law: Today’s Challenges and Tomorrow’s Needs” (1985).
The ALL-SIS continues to provide leadership in developing programs for the annual meeting. The topics have ranged widely including such diverse subjects as fundraising, collection development policies, treaty indexes, grantmaking and running effective meetings. However, some themes have emerged as perennial favorites. There have been several programs on career development both for the beginning librarian and the experienced librarian. Other recurrent themes are academic status and tenure, ABA inspections, teaching legal research, Lexis and Westlaw teaching and administration in law schools, publishing, and various aspects of the relationship between librarianship and legal education.
There have been many successful projects devoted to exchange of ideas, help and collaboration among librarians throughout the Section’s history. In the early years before widespread use of electronic communication and file sharing, exchanging work products and sharing results of surveys and studies was more difficult and labor intensive, and the need for vehicles for exchange of materials and ideas was perhaps more critical than in today’s world of easy electronic communication. Several useful collaborative projects are highlighted below:
Public Services Clearinghouse
The Public Services Clearinghouse initiated in the mid-eighties by Eve Greene and Pat Harris of Case Western Reserve is a great example of a cooperative exchange which benefited members. Through the clearinghouse librarians shared their handouts and pathfinders, as well as library exhibits. Librarians sent their materials to Case Western Reserve, and the librarians there distributed the materials to other librarians upon request. Contents included exhibits or “bulletin boards” such as County Courthouses, Censorship, and Humor and the Law. The print materials including handouts such as Using Shepard’s Citations, and an International Legal Research Pathfinder. Clearinghouse contents and additions were announced in the ALL Newsletter.
Legal Research Problems and Exams Exchange List
In the early 1980s Adrienne Adan and Jan Goldsmith of UCLA compiled a listing of almost 80 librarians involved in teaching legal research who were willing to exchange problems and exams used in their classes. The list, published in the ALL Newsletter provided information about who taught the class, who prepared the materials, and the contact person.
Superseded State Pocket Part Lists
In 1983 the Section compiled a Superseded State Pocket Part List. This document listed libraries which retained superseded pocket parts for their own state codes. At that time, this superseded information was often difficult to find, and many libraries did not retain these materials. The list included the names of the schools, the dates from which they kept the superseded pocket parts, and the amount that the libraries charged for copying and mailing the material if requested. The list continued to be updated for several years.
Mentor Project and CONALL
Throughout the years the SIS organized a number of mentoring and formal welcome projects for new law librarians. Ann Puckett coordinated a Mentor Project beginning in 1985. She advertised the program and solicited participants. The program was open to all librarians, not just academic librarians. The project was so successful during the first two years that responsibility for the program was transferred to CONELL at the 1988 annual meeting to make it a formal part of the newer law librarian orientation. In recent years, the Section has once again established a formal mentor program.
CONALL, the Convocation for Newer Academic Law Librarians, not to be confused with the AALL program CONELL, began during the last decade. Each year the CONALL Committee develops a program to welcome and orient new law librarians to the profession. One program which will not be soon forgotten is the “Alice in LawLibraryLand” skit at the 2000 annual meeting. This skit starred an all law librarian cast, many of whom were not known widely for their dramatic talents. It was intended to delve into the mysteries of academic law libraries. Alice explored LawLibraryLand with White Rabbit, meeting residents of LawLibraryLand like Dean Queen Trotta. Dramatic presentations are not required every year, but they have been popular with attendees. In 2002 - 2003, recruitment and mentoring new members was a major focus for SIS Chair Merle Slyhoff. Ms. Slyhoff encouraged collaboration between the Membership and CONALL/Mentoring committees to create a more formal ALL-SIS mentoring program.
Tenure and Status of Librarians
Tenure and status of librarians was a major issue in the early day of the Section, and continues to be of interest today. During its first year, the Section developed a program for the 1980 annual meeting on “The Status of Academic Librarians.” During the next year, the Section worked to compile documents on appointment, tenure and promotion of law school librarians and faculty.
In 1983 - 1984 Barbara Bintliff chaired the Ad Hoc Committee on Tenure and Status of Nondirector Librarians. Their work lead to the development of the Statement on Faculty Status of Academic Law Librarians. The Statement recommended that librarians be granted faculty status in recognition of their role as partners in education. The faculty status could be granted through the law faulty, a law library faculty or the general university faculty. The Statement on Faculty Status was approved by the SIS and presented to the AALL Executive Board, but the Executive Board did not act on the Statement. Later the SIS edited the Statement and created a Resolution recommending faculty status for law librarians. The resolution passed when it was presented to the AALL general membership at the 1987 annual meeting. Later, tenure documents collected during this period were published as A Representative Sample of Tenure Documents for Law Librarians, compiled by Martha Byrnes and Barbara Bintliff in the AALL Occasional Papers Series. Tenure and employment status continues to be important to the Section. The Section currently has a Committee on Continuing Status and Tenure, and their survey of Librarian Employment Status (of librarians who are not directors) at U.S. Law Schools is available on the Section website at http://www.aallnet.org/sis/allsis/cst/.
Vision for the Future of the Academic Law Library
In August 1993 Auturo Torres, chair of the Section, appointed Dick Danner to chair the Special Committee to Create a Vision Statement for the Future of the Academic Law Library. That committee identified trends affecting academic law libraries, analyzed them, and developed a statement of the core values of academic law librarianship. Based on this work the committee composed a vision statement. The committee envisioned that academic law libraries would take the lead to support research and instructional activities of the law school by 1) creating the means of access to legal information for the law school community, 2) becoming developers and publishers of electronic and other legal information products to benefit our law school communities, 3) developing information and communications systems linking the law school to local, national and international information sources, and 4) providing instruction for law students and others in legal research and information retrieval. The Vision Committee also anticipated that the library would play a major role in law school computing services.
Qualities of an Ideal CALR Vendor Relationship
Relations with CALR vendors has been a serious concern of the section throughout its history. From the earliest years librarians discussed the issue and developed programs on various aspects of this relationship. At the 1982 annual meeting in Detroit the ALL-SIS sponsored an informal discussion on LEXIS and WESTLAW and sponsored a program on teaching LEXIS and WESTLAW at the same meeting. In 1992 Cam Riley was appointed Chair of the ALL-SIS Ad Hoc Committee on WESTLAW and LEXIS Policies. Eventually the CALR Roundtable was established to discuss these issues. The roundtable evolved over time and has become the Relations with Vendors Committee. This group, chaired by Nancy McMurrer, developed a document entitled Qualities of an Ideal CALR Vendor-Library Relationship with Benchmark Signs of Success. Ms. McMurrer described the development of the document and the Roundtable’s work in a recent Law Library Journal article: Nancy McMurrer, “Special Feature: Working Together: Academic Law Librarians and CALR Vendors,” 95 Law Libr. J. 569 (Fall, 2003).
Statistics have long been a part of the academic librarian’s life. We report statistics about our collections, resources and services to several organizations including the American Bar Association, The Association for Research Libraries and the National Center for Education Statistics, and the Section has addressed statistics issues a number of times through the years. In work which grew out of a Statistics Roundtable in 2000 - 2001 Mila Rush prepared a “crosswalk” of statistics showing intersection and differences of statistics typically demanded by these organizations. The “Crosswalk” is available at the ALL-SIS website.
Relations with Other Groups
From its earliest days members understood the value of communication with related organizations. Over the years links to other organizations varied from somewhat formal to almost non-existent. In recent years, we have formalized our links again. In 2001 - 2002 the author established formal liaisons from the ALL-SIS to the ABA Section on Legal Education Law Libraries Committee and the AALS Committee on Libraries and Technology. The ALL-SIS also has a CALI committee which works as an Advisory Board for the CALI Legal Research Community Authoring Project. The Section also has formal ties with other SISs. Last year ALL-SIS chair Merle Slyhoff established formal liaisons to RIPS-SIS, CS-SIS and TS-SIS to bridge the gap between the ALL-SIS and the job related sections to which many academics belong.
Recently the Section created two prizes for academic law librarians. The Frederick Charles Hicks Award was proposed by the 1999-2000 Awards Committee appointed by ALL-SIS chair Victoria Trotta and chaired by Sally Holterhoff. The Hicks Award is an annual award for outstanding contributions to academic law librarianship. It is named in honor of Frederick Charles Hicks, the first great American law librarian scholar who was also the first academic law librarian to serve as president of AALL. Penny Hazelton was the inaugural winner of the Hicks Award in 2000. Other honorees are Frank Houdek (2001), Richard Danner (2002), and Bob Berring (2003).
The ALL-SIS Outstanding Article Award was created in 2002 to honor ALL-SIS members for publishing articles which enhance academic law librarianship. Melissa M. Serfass and Jessie L. Cranford were the inaugural winners of the ALL-SIS Outstanding Article Award for their article “Federal and State Court Rules Governing Publication and Citation of Opinions,” 3 Journal of Appellate Practice and Process 251 (Spring 2001). Both of these awards honor the recipients and help raise the profile of the section and academic law librarians in the profession.
One of the more pleasant ALL-SIS traditions is the reception at the annual meeting. It usually takes place at an academic law library near the convention site. This tradition began at the 1985 annual meeting in New York. The first reception was held at Fordham University Law Library, and it was sponsored by the F.W. Faxon Company. That first reception was held “to provide an opportunity for academic librarians to meet at an event which crosses job lines” and to generate new members for the section, so it was open to all academic law librarians not just those who were members of the section. The reception was so successful that the tradition has endured and the event has become a very popular annual affair. Touring host libraries has been an added bonus at the receptions. In recent years the Section’s awards have been presented during the annual reception.
Throughout the section’s history, many of our issues have been constant: teaching, library administration, collection development, CALR management, and working effectively in our own institutions. The section continues to provide a forum to exchange ideas about these issues and news ones as they arise. Kathleen Carrick, chair in 1983 - 1984, insisted that ALL-SIS must “provide a strong forum for our concerns and interests” and must “produce the programs, newsletters, and information that not only justify the existence of this SIS, but encourage other academics to join and take an active role.” Now technology has enhanced our ability to communicate and exchange ideas and work products. Let’s look forward to an even richer next 25 years of collaboration and exchange in the ALL-SIS with law librarians of all positions working together to create thriving law libraries rich with information resources, services and resourceful librarians.