ARCHIVED: Private Law Libraries SIS History and Bylaws

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The private law libraries of AALL were first officially organized at the 1959 Annual Meeting after a round table discussion entitled "The Problems of the Private Law Librarian." AALL set up the private Law Libraries Committee, which was the immediate predecessor of the PLL/SIS. The PLL/SIS itself came into existence after the reorganization of the AALL committee system in 1976-77. It was one of the eight original special interest sections approved at the annual meeting in Toronto, Ontario and held its first meeting as an SIS on June 26, 1977.

The PLL/SIS is now AALL's largest, with a membership of over 1600 firm, corporate and independent law librarians. It comprises more than 1/3 of the membership of AALL. As the section grew larger, librarians with more specific concerns came into contact. Through meetings and collaborations, some of these groups have evolved into PLL subsections. Presently, the PLL/SIS sponsors seven groups under its auspices: Corporate, Independent, Records Management, Technical Services, Intellectual Property, Multilocation Libraries and Solo Librarians. Each of these groups gathers sometime during the annual meeting. Funds for special projects of these groups come from the SIS and must be approved by the PLL/SIS Executive Committee.


  • The Corporate Law Librarians generally work for either a corporation's legal department or the corporate department of a law firm library. They deal with specific problems of running a law library in a corporation, such as managing both the records center and the library or dealing with SEC regulations.

  • The Independent Law Librarians are free lancers, consultants, filing services, information specialists and others who work with law libraries and legal materials, but have some type of employment other than a single, permanent full-time position.

  • The Records Management Law Librarians are librarians who are responsible for managing records and conflicts of interest departments in their firms and corporations.

  • The Technical Services Law Librarians have as their objective the improvement of standards of bibliographic control in law firm libraries and introduction of automation and technology into the working environment of law firms, where the small size of the collection often does not warrant the sophisticated systems developed for larger collections.

  • The Intellectual Property Librarians have specialized knowledge and interest in the practice area of trademarks, patents, copyright and other intellectual property.

  • The Multilocation Libraries group is focused on management of branch or regional offices as well as the main location. The group discusses staffing, technical processing, centralized versus decentralized functions and other concerns dealing with this structure.

  • The Solo Librarians group looks at the special concerns where librarians are the sole information professionals in their firms or corporations.

Activities of the PLL/SIS include:

  • Sponsoring a substantial number of programs and workshops a the AALL annual meeting

  • Working closely with AALL to promote law librarianship using materials such as the AALL Tool Kit and AALL Resource Guides

  • Sponsoring educational programming for and exhibiting at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Legal Administrators

  • Underwriting the costs associated with the AALL Representative to the American Bar Association Law Practice Management Section

  • Creating a New Members Packet to welcome newcomers to the Section

  • Funding scholarships and grants to assist members in need

In addition to these projects, the Section created a Strategic Plan in the Fall of 1996 that will guide its activities until the year 2000. This plan identified six initiatives targeted to addressing the needs of the private law librarian, both within AALL and within the larger legal and librarian communities. During 1998, one of these initiatives, the Consumer Advocacy Committee for PLL (CAPLL), actively issued publisher alerts to the entire law library community. It is hoped that the PLL Strategic Plan will be regularly compared and contrasted to the Strategic Challenge that is developed by AALL to make certain that the Section's activities flow from, and inspire, our parent organization's planning.

Standing Committees include: Bylaws, Education, Grants, Mentoring, Newsletter Advisory, Nominations, Public Relations, Standards and Guidelines, Technology, Consumer Advocacy and Research/Information in Private Law Libraries, with additional Task Forces and Ad Hoc Committees as needed.

The Section issued its own newsletter from 1978 to 1982, from 1986 to 1988 and from 1989 to the present. The current publication, PLL Perspectives, is quarterly and is available to all section members as part of their membership. Non-member subscriptions are available from AALL for $35.00 per year.

Chairs of the Section:

Ellen Mahar 1977/78
Ellen Mahar 1978/79
Marie Wallace 1979/80
Diane Witkowski 1980/81
Vicki Ward 1981/82
Margaret Shediac 1982/83
Austin Doherty 1983/84
Mary Ann Roman 1984/85
Cathy Pennington 1985/86
Nuchine Nobari 1986/87
Elizabeth MacMorris 1987/88
Susanne Gehringer 1988/89

Patricia G. Strougal 1989/90
Mark E. Estes 1990/91
Janet Zagorin 1991/92
Victoria K. Trotta 1992/93
Johanna C. Bizub 1993/94
Alvin Podboy 1994/95
Mary Smith Forman 1995/96
Michael Saint-Onge 1996/97
Anne Ellis 1997/98
Glen Gustafson 1998/99
Kathie J. Sullivan 1999/00
Ann H. Jeter 2000/01
Patricia Keller 2001/02
Janeen M. Heath 2002/03



American Association of Law Libraries



Amended 5/1/2000

Article I: NAME

The name of this special interest section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) shall be the Private Law Libraries/Special Interest Section. It may also be known as the PLL/SIS.

Article II: OBJECT

  • Section 1.
    The objects of the Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section shall be to improve the quality and service of private law libraries by emphasizing their goals, needs and special interests and to represent its members' interests and concerns within the AALL.

  • Section 2.
    The Section shall conduct its affairs in conformity with the Constitution and Bylaws of the American Association of Law Libraries.


  • Section 1.
    There shall be an annual meeting of the Private Law Libraries/Special Interest Section held in connection with, or during, the annual meeting of the AALL.

  • Section 2.
    Special meetings may be held at such time as the PLL/SIS Executive Committee may determine.

  • Section 3.
    A quorum for a business meeting of the Private Law Libraries/Special Interest Section shall consist of fifty (50) PLL/SIS members.

  • Section 4.
    Written notification of all meetings shall be sent to each member at least 30 days before each meeting.


  • Section 1. Officers
    The officers shall consist of a Chair, a Vice-Chair/Chair-elect, a Secretary and a Treasurer. The term of the Chair and the Vice-Chair/Chair-elect shall be for one year, and the Vice-Chair/Chair-elect shall automatically become the Chair at the end of one year. The terms of the Secretary and the Treasurer shall be two years. Officers shall serve without compensation, but shall be reimbursed for any approved or budgeted expenditures in the discharge of their duties.

  • Section 2. Duties of Officers
    The Chair, Vice-Chair/Chair-elect, Secretary and Treasurer shall perform the duties usually pertaining to their respective offices, and such other duties as may be assigned by the Executive Committee or the membership.

  • Section 3. Executive Committee
    There shall be an Executive Committee consisting of the officers named above, the immediate past-Chair, and two (2) members elected at large for two year terms, one of whom shall be elected annually.

  • Section 4. Committees
    There shall be the following established groups of the PLL/SIS: Corporate Law Librarians, Independent Law Librarians, Records Management Law Librarians and Technical Services Law Librarians. Each group shall send a representative to the annual meetings of the PLL/SIS Executive Committee. There shall be additional standing or special committees as the Executive Committee shall create, or shall be created by a majority vote of those present and voting on a written resolution of the Section. Such resolutions must be presented to the Secretary prior to the meeting.

  • Section 5. Appointments
    The Chair shall appoint all committee members except the Nominating Committee, unless the Section shall otherwise direct.

  • Section 6. Vacancies
    The occurrence of a vacancy in the position of Chair shall be filled by the succession of the present Vice-Chair/Chair-elect to serve as Chair until the next scheduled election of section officers. The occurrence of a vacancy in the position of Vice-Chair/Chair-elect, Secretary or Treasurer shall be filled by appointment of the Executive Committee. The persons appointed shall serve in their positions until the next regularly scheduled election, at which time all offices shall be filled for their ordinary terms.


  • Section 1.
    There shall be a Nominating Committee appointed by the Executive Committee, to consist of three (3) members, none of whom shall be a member of the Executive Committee, and none of whom shall be a candidate for office at the succeeding election. Each member of the committee shall serve for a term of one year. The Chair of the committee shall be designated by the Executive Committee. The Committee shall nominate two (2) candidates for each of the offices of Vice- Chair/Chair-elect, Secretary, Treasurer and Executive Committee member. The Nominating Committee shall submit the names of the candidates, together with their written acceptances, to the Chair, in sufficient time to enable the Chair to inform section members of the nominations by at least four months in advance of the first day of the AALL Annual Meeting, by publication in the AALL Newsletter, the PLL/SIS Newsletter, or by mail.

    In the event that the Vice-Chair/Chair-elect cannot assume the duties of Chair, and such fact is known at least five months in advance of the first day of the AALL Annual Meeting, the committee shall also submit the names of candidates for the office of Chair for the term of one year.

  • Section 2.
    Further nominations, except for the office of Chair, may be made upon written petition of five percent (5%) voting PLL/SIS members in good standing. Such petitions, accompanied by written acceptance of the nominees, must be filed with the Chair at least three and one-half months in advance of the first day of the AALL Annual Meeting.

  • Section 3.
    The Chair shall appoint an Election Committee, chaired by the Secretary, which shall have charge of the conduct of the annual election, and the counting and tabulation of all votes cast. The Secretary shall oversee the mailing of the ballots to each member of the Section at least three months in advance of the first day of the AALL Annual Meeting. Ballots shall be marked, sealed in plain envelopes in covering envelopes bearing on the outside the name and address of the member voting, and returned to the Secretary no later than two months in advance of the first day of the AALL Annual Meeting. The candidates receiving the largest number of votes shall be elected and shall be so reported at the PLL/SIS Annual Meeting by the Secretary, and all candidates shall be notified of the results of the election by the Secretary at the earliest possible time. In case of a tie vote, a run-off election shall be held at the PLL/SIS Annual Business Meeting. Run-off elections shall be by secret ballot. The ballots shall be immediately counted and the candidate with the largest number of votes declared elected.


  • Section 1.
    Amendments to these bylaws may be proposed by the Executive Committee, or by a petition signed by ten percent (10%) of the PLL/SIS members. Proposed amendments shall become effective when approved by two-thirds of the members who vote in a ballot, to be conducted by mail, and after approval of the AALL Executive Board.

  • Section 2.
    Notice of the proposed amendments shall be mailed to the Section's members, or be published in the Section's newsletter thirty (30) days in advance of the mail ballot.


Robert's Rules of Order, in the latest edition, shall govern all deliberations of the PLL/SIS.