|RESEARCH & PUBLICATIONS|
G. LeGrande Fletcher
Brigham Young University
Would a few hundred dollars help you get a research or publication project completed? It's making a difference for Chris Tarr, UC Berkeley tarrc@ mail.law. berkeley.edu, and me, and in this column we're reporting our experiences with the OBS/TS Joint Research Grant (JRG) this past year. Elsewhere in this issue of TSLL and at the OBS Web site (http://www.aallnet.org/sis/obssis/) you can obtain general information and the application form for your Joint Research Grant (total of $1,000 to be awarded). For additional assistance, contact the JRG Committee Chair, Corrine Jacox, U. of Orlando, at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (407) 275-2100.
Christina Tarr's Interim Report
I chose my Amazon.com project because I find their system interesting. It seems to be a hybrid of a standard library catalog (things searchable by author, title, subject) with some added features. You can search anything by keyword, of course. But also, some of their subjects are not Library of Congress subjects, and I'm curious to know where they got them. I like very much the interactive aspect of their site -- standard reviews are incorporated, but in addition users write reviews which are incorporated into the record for each book. Also, of course, the site remembers anything you've ever bought and attempts (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to suggest other books you might like. There are also links from any book to other books bought by people who bought the first one. I like this additional form of user recommendation.
As a by-the-book cataloger, I wonder sometimes if our catalogs are still the best way to organize material. I think it might be worth taking a look at catalogs which were developed from scratch with the Web as their original medium, and seeing if they have anything to offer our catalogs, which came about based on the medium of the catalog card. There is a lot of conversation in the literature about OPAC-design. It seems that sites like Amazon.com might have something to add to the discussion.
I first heard about the grant at the OBS/TS Open Research Roundtable at the Indianapolis or Baltimore AALL annual meeting when Brian Striman and Ellen McGrath proposed the idea of a technical services grant and were seeking funding. So, when I saw the blurb in the March 1998 TSLL announcing the grants, and I had this Amazon.com idea floating in the back of my head, I decided to apply. I was somewhat surprised (and a little worried) when it was awarded!
The problem I have encountered in actually doing the research is finding the time to stop my normal work (which seems to be in a state of perpetual crisis) to do it. Somehow it is not easy to say — all right, now I will not look at this mountain of books awaiting my attention and work on my abstract research project. Also, I plan to travel to Seattle to see the operation first hand, and it is not easy to tell my family that I will be away for a few days doing research (although I am quite sure they will be just fine without me!).
The response of my co-workers has been uniformly positive. Some of them have expressed some interest in applying for the grant in the future.
LeGrande Fletcher's Joint Research Grant Report
I received $130 from you all in TS and OBS to assist me in finishing an annotated Nevada legal materials bibliography which will be published in the Spring 1999 issue of Law Library Journal. My goal in compiling the bibliography is to help the new UNLV law library, Nevada librarians, and others with acquisitions and collection development assistance based on my experience at the Washoe County Law Library in Reno, Nevada (1994-1997). My obstacle last year was that I moved to Utah, away from the sources in Nevada. Ellen McGrath knew my situation and suggested I apply for the Joint Research Grant for travel money back to Nevada. Brian Striman, as JRGC Chair at the time, did the legwork to make the actual reimbursement happen.
In early June 1998, I submitted the forms and included the following: 1) a two-page resume showing my degrees, relevant work experience, and publications, 2) a three-page research proposal, relating the projected research to my on-going work and interests, showing the scope and design of my research, and my publication plans, 3) a one-page budget relating expenses to steps in my research plan, and 4) a draft of my unfinished bibliography. Frank Houdek, the editor of Law Library Journal, had already tentatively approved publication of my bibliography upon its completion. I think that helped the Joint Research Grant Committee's decision to fund me. A related project I proposed was rejected as not being related enough to technical services law librarianship.
Final approval came at the July 1998 AALL annual meeting in Anaheim, after the chairs of TS and OBS okayed my request. I flew to Nevada the next month, and spent 40 hours in seven different libraries in Reno and Carson City looking at Nevada state documents and legal materials (using vacation time from work). By mid-October, I integrated my pages of notes and photocopies into an official Law Library Journal submission, which will be published in May 1999.
A technical services law librarian I talked to in October was surprised that, in her words, "you could get money to compile a legal bibliography!" She had always wanted to do a project similar to mine, but figured it had to be on her own time. Seeing that I received funding from JRGC helped her see some possibilities.
An unexpected result of receiving the grant is how I'm treated by some of my co-workers. A fellow BYU law librarian (outside of technical services) commented that it was easier to justify my getting various internal resources since I've received outside research funding and am publishing the results in our association's main journal. My response was that TS-SIS and OBS-SIS make a difference in the lives and work of their members.
Books useful for developing a research idea or methodology include: Ronald R. Powell, Basic Research Methods for Librarians, 3rd ed. (Greenwich: Ablex Pub. Corp., 1997), G.E. Gorman & Peter Clayton, Qualitative Research for the Information Professional: A Practical Handbook (London: Library Association Publishing, 1997), and other titles cataloged under: Library science $x Research. (Don't use the subject heading "Library research," as it applies to finding books in a library.)
Besides the regular law library and technical services newsletters, journals and conferences, you may want to consider submitting to Library & Information Science Research, a quarterly journal about the research process in library science. Contact its editors, Dr. Peter Hernon, Simmons College, Boston, at: phernon@ simmons.edu or (617) 521-2794 or Dr. Candy Schwartz, also at Simmons, at: email@example.com or (617) 521-2849.