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The AALL Spectrum® blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.

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5/15/2015 10:20:07 AM

Library Outreach Inside the Building

Library Outreach. Does this phrase strike fear in your core? What does it mean? How does a library “outreach” and to whom? Like many academic law libraries, Schmid Law Library (University of Nebraska College of Law) strives to connect with our law students by building good relationships and providing a positive environment for the students during law school and beyond. This semester we’ve informally outreached to our law students via March Madness, National Library Week and research review for student’s working as summer clerks and associates. I’d like to share these programs as examples of successful library outreach opportunities inside the building. 


Law Review March Madness


This is a new program for Schmid Law Library; we borrowed the idea from Klutznik Law Library (Creighton Law School). On the library’s first floor is an under-used bulletin board. It’s been a personal goal to put up a display to improve the space – the “Law Review Madness” event was a perfect fit (and took up almost a month of display needs). Our promotion to the law school included:


Which Law Review will win?! Schmid Law Library is offering Law Review Madness 2015 during this season’s March Madness tournament. We’ll have brackets available on Monday afternoon at the circulation desk for those who want to play along. Completed brackets are due by noon on Wednesday, March 18th to the law library circulation desk. The grand prize is a Golden Ticket for all-day use of a study room of your choice AND bragging rights for winning the first Law Review Madness tourney hosted by Schmid Law Library.


We wanted the entire law school to participate even though students benefitted from winning an all-day use of a study-room. There were 15 total participants, including three faculty and staff. The bulletin board was a hit; many people were impressed with the large bracket and clever law review modification. For example, the Villanova team became the Villanova Law Review, as did Arkansas (Arkansas Law Review). If a March Madness team had a law review associated with the school, we modified the team name only.


National Library Week Celebration


Schmid Law Library hosts a community coffee for the law school each semester, usually on Halloween and Valentine’s Day. This year we decided to host the spring semester community coffee during National Library Week (April 13-17, 2015) to celebrate libraries and connect with our students, faculty and staff. The community coffee involves fruit, breakfast goodies and coffee or tea set up in the library foyer for a meet and greet event. To promote library services, we created a daily quiz highlighting a particular department; Monday was technical services, Tuesday was circulation, Wednesday was Inter-Library Loan (ILL) - even the IT department created a quiz! We gave away a prize box each day including; gift cards to local bookstore, giveaways from our vendors, and office supplies like highlighters. The prize box was a hit, especially with finals around the corner; food is always appreciated and we promoted library services in a creative format. The feedback we’ve received from students has been positive and the quiz winners were excited about the great prize box.




We’ve offered a daylong research event to our students the past four years. This is a refresher on basic legal research skills necessary for their summer jobs as clerks and associates. The training involves several sessions including: starting research tips, administrative law, Nebraska and Federal legislative history research, free and low-cost alternative legal research on the web, and practical tools and tips. The library provides donuts and coffee during the morning and a pizza lunch for students who pre-register. We use a LibGuide for each ResearchPalooza event; it includes the day’s agenda, links to relevant resources, the registration form to RSVP for the event (and lunch) and contact information for the librarians.


Outreach programming can be successful in the building! Fortunately we have a captured audience as our law students spend hours each day in the library. These events are valuable opportunities to continue building good relationships with our law school community by tweaking established programs (the community coffee), trying timely programming (Law Review Madness) and continuing to support our student’s professional careers (ResearchPalooza).



Marcia L. Dority Baker is the Access Services Librarian at the University of Nebraska College of Law, Schmid Law Library in Lincoln, Nebraska. She can be reached via email; mdoritybaker@unl.edu


Posted By Marcia Dority Baker at 5/15/2015 10:20:07 AM  0 Comments
11/11/2014 5:54:37 PM

Thinking Outside the Box

As many of us know, our libraries --- whether academic, government, public, or law firm --- often become the default repository for our parent institutions.  We end up with boxes full of advertising brochures, awards, photos, maybe even a t-shirt or two commemorating some event.  The boxes gather dust in a closet or office somewhere, and their contents potentially never see the light of day. 


Well, I want to encourage you to make the opposite occur! 


Memorabilia and realia can be a great way to foster a sense of community in an institution.  You can use them to draw attention to a specific event like an anniversary or a retirement, or to engender an appreciation of a shared history.  A display in a conference room or lobby can help attorneys and staff (and the public) appreciate an institution's history and highlight the library's role in preserving it.  You can also use displays for outreach purposes to draw attention to the library’s contribution to the whole. 


For example, each summer Columbia Law School‘s Alumni/Development office organizes a huge weekend-long reunion.  Alumni are feted, fed, given nostalgia-inducing tours of campus, and generally encouraged to have a good time.  However, the one thing they didn’t do was visit the law library.  This was unfortunate,  because we wanted to be considered a valuable element of the Columbia Law School experience.  Accordingly, (with my director's consent) I reached out to the Alumni /Development office four years ago and offered to put together a display of appropriate yearbooks and student memorabilia if they in turn would bring the summer alumni reunion tours to the library.  They were hesitant, but the bribe of a temporary display that the alumni could touch was too tempting to pass up.  Since then, the visit to the library has become a very popular element of the alumni tours, leading to an increase of alumni interest in the library and its holdings.  Incidentally, it has also created a lot of goodwill between us and the Alumni/Development office. 


For libraries with display cases, this is your opportunity to have a short or long-term exhibit of material celebrating your law school or firm.  For those without display cases, all you need are some large frames in which you can mount photographs or brochures along with explanatory labels.  Either way, bear in mind that your items might be unique and worthy of preservation.  Make sure not to use tape or damaging substances on original material.  If the display will be in full sunlight, you may also want to substitute photocopies for fragile or colorful originals. If you have preservation questions or concerns, you should contact the AALL TS-SIS Preservation Committee    


Your institution’s resources and space will of course shape the kind of display that you can create.  But no matter how large or small your display, someone will see it.  Feel free to be creative!  After all, if you don’t value those dusty box contents --- and show them off to others--- no one will! 


© Sabrina Sondhi, 2014.  Special Collections and Services Librarian, Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, Columbia University, New York, NY.  sabrina.sondhi@law.columbia.edu


Posted By Sabrina Sondhi at 11/11/2014 5:54:37 PM  0 Comments
6/19/2012 8:05:35 AM

Grant Opportunity - Civil War 150: Exploring the War and its Meaning through the words of Those who Lived it

Below is a press release that presents an outreach opportunity.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, in partnership with The Library of America, is now accepting applications from libraries and National Park historic sites for grants to develop public programming around the free traveling panel exhibition Civil War 150.
Fifty sites selected by competitive application to host the Civil War 150 exhibition will each be awarded a grant of $1,000 to plan accompanying public programming. Additional grants in the amount of $500 will be awarded to 150 libraries throughout the country to provide the public programming component of this project. All those who submit an application for the $1,000 grant will automatically be considered the $500 grant opportunity. The exhibition is available for three-week periods from October 2012 to March 2015. Hosting sites will also receive supporting interpretive and contextual materials, including Civil War 150 readers (discussion guides) and access to a multimedia website with robust digital resources. Public, academic, and special libraries as well as National Park historic sites are invited to submit applications for the public programming grants and exhibition.
The exhibition is part of Civil War 150: Exploring the War and Its Meaning through the Words of Those Who Lived It, a major three-year project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The project is centered on the four-volume Library of America series The Civil War Told by Those Who Lived It and includes a collection of readers (discussion guides) drawn from the series. Each reader presents a theme with selections drawn from The Civil War volumes, such as “Expectation of War,” “The War at Home,” “From Slavery to Freedom,” and “Civil War Writing as Literature.”
Libraries that wish to apply for a grant should go to http://www.gilderlehrman.org/civilwar150grant to download an application form or contact Susan Saidenberg at saidenberg@gilderlehrman.org.
About The Library of America
The Library of America is an award-winning nonprofit publisher dedicated to preserving America’s best and most significant writing in handsome, enduring volumes, featuring authoritative texts. www.loa.org <http://www.loa.org>


Posted By Mark Estes at 6/19/2012 8:05:35 AM  0 Comments