AALL Spectrum Blog

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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.

The AALL Spectrum blog is no longer published. Previous posts are archived on this page.
9/19/2014 5:51:28 PM

Dreaming of a Green Conference…

As an environmentalist and a law librarian it can be a real challenge marrying two somewhat disparate identities.  This marriage seems to be the most difficult at AALL’s Annual Conference and Chapter meetings because sustainability issues often fall by the wayside to our fabulous programming, receptions, and parties.  That being said, the new Social Responsibilities SIS Environmental Taskforce and the Environmental Libraries Caucus  have teamed up to raise awareness, promote sustainable solutions, and to hopefully work towards a greener and more sustainable conference in Philadelphia in 2015.

The Taskforce is currently focused on the following issues:

  • Developing a survey to sample AALL member interest in sustainability.
  • Drafting an AALL Sustainability Resolution.
  • Proposing sustainability related programming for the 2015 Annual Conference.
  • Developing best practices standards for implementing sustainable practices in the law library setting.

The Taskforce is still looking for members so if you are interested in contributing please contact David Selden, National Indian Law Library/NARF at dselden@narf.org.

For those AALL members interested in learning more about sustainability (especially in the library context) below please find a list of resources:


Taryn L. Rucinski
Environmental Law Librarian
& Adjunct Professor of Law
Pace University School of Law
White Plains, NY


Posted By Taryn Rucinski at 9/19/2014 5:51:28 PM  0 Comments
9/19/2014 12:47:00 PM

How to check out a book with your phone!

Coming from the public library world, I had noticed a few years ago that some public libraries had begun working technology into libraries in a unique way. They allowed their patrons to have library card information on their phones and check out items without the physical card. Working at an academic law library meant that a large number of our users (students) likely have smart phones and may jump at the chance to integrate library use with their phones.  With that in mind, we began to look into an app that could hold the library card information and still allow for a secure check-out.  To do that, we’d need an app that provided images as well as barcodes.

Enter Key Ring.

Key Ring is a free app that is designed to be a virtual wallet, holding a wide variety of card information. What we liked about it was that you could also take a picture of the front and back of the card, allowing the circulation staff to still identify the owner of the card and eliminate any identification problems. Below are some screen shots of the app in action.

Key Ring Home Page       Key Ring App Wisccard

We wrote up instructions on how to add cards and tested out the app with staff. The app was given a thumbs-up by everyone who used it. We thought we were in business…but our barcode readers couldn’t handle reading the phone or tablet screens. Here is our older barcode reader with its single line laser...


The reader worked well with physical barcodes, but wouldn’t work with LCD screens. What we needed was a reader that would read barcodes, screens and cards easily. After some work with our IT Coordinator, we determined that a LED Reader could do just that. We purchased one and tested it out with phones and tablets and it worked wonderfully. Our circulation students actually prefer the new reader to our older one…a big bonus! You can see the different laser being used in the image below. It actually is easier to scan physical barcodes with it as well.


We are now peppering our promotional materials with information about KeyRing. Signs let students know that they can “check items out with their phones.” While response hasn’t been overwhelming, there has been enough interest to deem the program a success. We are hopeful that more students will add the app as more students become even more attached to their devices. We are the first library on the University of Wisconsin campus (that I know of) to offer the ability to check out with a phone. So far, we have encountered no problems and a moderate amount of use. I like that the app gives students who may forget their Wiscard (but never their phone!) another way to check out and still allows the circulation staff a way to determine identity. In an increasingly tech-powered world, I think this is a nice service for the law library to offer. Key Ring is a free app available from both the App Store (Apple) and the Google Play Store (Android).

©Kris Turner, 2014

Reference and Technology Services Librarian

University of Wisconsin Law School Library

Madison, Wisconsin


Posted By Kris Turner at 9/19/2014 12:47:00 PM  0 Comments
9/12/2014 2:04:51 PM

What's in a Name?

Naming things is hard. I hadn’t really thought about the importance of names until I had my daughter and had to name her. Before she was born I spent hours trying to perfect the right combination of names- her name needed to be classic but interesting, something that would grow with her, something she could be proud of. I named her Annabelle Rose.

When the Gen X/Gen Y Caucus made the transition to Special Interest Section earlier this year, we were given one mandate: find a new name. While brainstorming ideas, I kept coming back to the process I used for naming my daughter. We needed the right combination of names that would encompass our members passions for professional growth. Our new SIS’s name had to be inclusive, something people didn’t have to age into or could age out of. It needed to reflect our mission to help new(er) members of the organization to learn and grow and become active members of the profession. Finally, it would be nice if the name was also catchy and fun.

After much discussion and collaboration with our members, the SIS was rebranded as the Professional Engagement Growth and Advancement SIS (or PEGA-SIS for short). It is my hope that this name represents what we want the SIS to be. In PEGA-SIS new(er) members can engage with librarians at all levels of the profession from different types of libraries and can grow their knowledge and abilities during the first years of their professional life. Through PEGA-SIS members can advance not only their careers, but the organization and the profession of law librarianship as a whole.

Like my Annabelle Rose, as PEGA-SIS grows as an SIS, I hope the name grows with it, a name that members, current and future, can be proud of.


Jordan A. Jefferson, 2014, Reference Librarian, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School, New Haven, CT. Jordan is the current chair of PEGA-SIS and can be reached at jordan.a.jefferson@yale.edu.

Posted By Jordan Jefferson at 9/12/2014 2:04:51 PM  0 Comments