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.
11/14/2014 11:29:58 AM

A Librarian or An Island?

I’ve been working as a law librarian in some capacity or another for the past four years.  In my previous positions I’ve always had other librarians and/or staff that I worked with directly on a daily basis.  This year I transitioned to a position where I am a solo law librarian in a private firm.  I’ve found so far that this type of position has its advantages and disadvantages. 

By far the biggest upside is the autonomy I’m afforded by my firm.  Decisions regarding the library are left entirely up to me.  I can add materials and cancel subscriptions to my heart’s content, within my budget, of course.  I recently made the decision to go entirely digital on a good chunk of our regularly updated material.  The process was very simple.  I made the decision, discussed it briefly with our Chief Operating Officer and then rang up my vendor to get the best deal.  Of course, the immediate downside to that is the library buck stops with me.  When there’s an attorney who’s cranky about having a print title switched to digital that goes to me too. 

Being a solo law librarian also means I get an enormous variety of research requests.  My firm’s practice areas cover a lot of different topics.  That means one day I’m looking up municipal codes for a property sale and that same day I’m also researching multi-state sales and use tax issues.  I personally enjoy the variety, but I can see how that would be easily stressful.  I also had to adjust from having immediate access to just about any material I could think of to having to operate within a much smaller access plan and find creative ways to get the information I am looking for.

I also wear more than just the standard law librarian hat.  I’m the marketing coordinator, webmaster, data room architect, digitization maven, event planner, photographer and, if you can frame a task that has anything to do with ‘information’, it could easily be assigned to me. 

I enjoy the work while I do miss having a workplace full of librarians to enjoy it with.  In short, probably not an island.  

© Jennifer Waite Haas. 2014. Law Librarian, Weiss Berzowski Brady LLP, Milwaukee, WI.

Posted By Jennifer Waite Haas at 11/14/2014 11:29:58 AM  0 Comments
11/13/2014 5:18:01 PM

Enjoy the November 2014 Issue of Spectrum, Available on AALLNET!

The November 2014 issue of Spectrum is now available on AALLNET. We encourage you to post your feedback in the comments section below!

Posted By Ashley St. John at 11/13/2014 5:18:01 PM  0 Comments
TOPICS: spectrum
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