ARCHIVED: Committee Awards Nearly $10,000 in AALL/Aspen Research Grants

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February 7, 2003

The AALL Research Committee awarded two AALL/Aspen Publishers Grants worth almost $10,000 to projects that highlight the scope of law librarianship.

David Selden of the National Indian Law Library of the Native American Rights Fund received $6,567 to coordinate a project called “Reconsidering Indians of North America – Creating a Federal Indian and Tribal Law Library Subject Headings Thesaurus.” Critics argue that the Library of Congress Subject headings are inadequate for the field of federal Indian and tribal law. The current headings do not include terms used in ethnic group identification and the categorization does not consider Indian governments as sovereign nations in law library collections. Selden’s project will analyze, revise and expand an existing preliminary subject headings list and create a thesaurus of federal Indian and tribal law terminology.

Kathryn Hensiak, research and instructional services librarian at Northwestern University Pritzker Legal Research Center; Stephanie Burke, senior reference librarian at Boston University Pappas Law Library; and Donna Nixon, reference/access services librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Law Library, received the second grant for $3,100 to fund their project. Titled “Assessing Information Literacy Among First-Year Students – A Survey to Measure Research Experiences and Perceptions,” the project will evaluate the skills of first-year law students. It will survey first-year law students at the beginning of their studies at three law schools. The project will gather data to determine the legal skills students bring to law school and whether law schools are teaching legal research skills at the appropriate level.

The AALL/Aspen Publishers Research Grant Program is intended to not only promote research but to remove obstacles to project completion caused by tight operating budgets. And so, the grants may be used for expenses such as research assistants, photocopying, data entry and research-related travel.

The AALL/Aspen Publishers Grant Program was made possible with a generous $50,000 contribution from Aspen Publishers, a New York-based legal publisher, in 1996. The company views its contribution as an investment in research that will provide a prospective look at the role of librarians, researchers and legal information providers and will yield results to which publishers can respond. Aspen's goal is to sponsor research that will have a practical impact on the law library profession and inspire products and changes in the marketplace.

The AALL Research Committee, AALL and its corporate partner, Aspen Publishers, congratulate this year's recipients of the grants.