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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.
7/26/2013 4:23:32 PM

Session Review: AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers: The Librarian as Author

This session featured talks by the winners of the 2013 AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers competition. Before the winners gave their talks, Joel Fishman of the Duquesne University Center for Legal Information and the Allegheny County Law Library and a prolific author, gave a brief talk on the value of scholarship for law librarians. He said research and writing was enjoyable and a good way to learn more about law and librarianship. He advised writing about anything one finds interesting, but emphasized that state legal history has not received sufficient attention yet.

Joe Gerken, winner of the Open division, spoke about his paper on the development of the first American case reporters, digests, and citators. He noted that these tools were developed in a very short period of time and have remained relatively stable to the present. Some of first American court reporters were surprisingly colorful characters. Gerken noted that his paper is built on the work of many scholars who came before him.

Catherine Lemmer, winner of the New Member division, spoke about her paper on used a flipped classroom strategy to teach legal research to LLM students. She said her students had trouble transferring and generalizing their legal research skills to unfamiliar problems. She found a more effective approach was delivering instruction through recorded talks and reading, and then asking students to work together on research problems during class. This approach stimulated more critical thinking, communication, and problem solving. She noted that research indicates a combination of online and in-person instruction has the best outcomes, and this flipped classroom approach provides that combination.

Mari Cheney, winner of the Short Form division, talked about her paper on a legal research boot camp administered at her school. The legal research boot camp was a concentrated and compact program of basic legal research instruction for 1L in their first semester. She described how the boot camp was administered and lessons she and her colleagues have learned to improve their legal research instruction.

Kristen Hallows, winner of the Student division, gave a talk based on her paper on in-house classification schemes in law libraries. Her paper was inspired by her practicum at the Ohio Attorney General Office' library. The library implemented an in-house classification scheme that grouped legal and non-legal materials together by subjects they shared. For example, materials on health law were shelved with medical texts. She described how law libraries classified their materials before Library of Congress issued Class K and how LC classification spread to most law libraries. Hallows suggested that for some collections, like the Ohio AG's library, an in-house classification may increase use of print materials and be more intuitive for researchers.

Winning papers can be found here, and more information on the Call for Papers competition can be found on AALLNet.

Posted By Benjamin Keele at 7/26/2013 4:23:32 PM  0 Comments
7/26/2013 12:32:55 PM

Chapter Newsletter Highlights: MALL & SWALL

This post describes some articles in AALL chapter newsletters that are likely to be interesting to librarians outside those chapters.

The Summer 2013 issue of the Minnesota Association of Law Libraries' MALL Newsletter contains reviews of sessions at the 2013 MALL Spring Conference. Topics covered at the conference included augmented reality, e-filing in Minnesota courts, social media reputations, federal administrative law, social media apps, and Minnesota alcohol laws.

The Summer 2013 issue of the Southwestern Association of Law Libraries' SWALL Bulletin has a list of websites featured at a 60 Sites in 60 Minutes session at the 2013 Special Libraries Association conference. It also contains an article reviewing books on law and film.

Posted By Benjamin Keele at 7/26/2013 12:32:55 PM  0 Comments
7/26/2013 8:44:49 AM


Book Review:  Courthouse Democracy and Minority Rights:  Same-Sex Marriage in the States.

Hume, Robert J., Courthouse Democracy and Minority Rights:  Same-Sex Marriage in the States. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013), 217, pp., incl. index.  ISBN9780199982172, $85.00 (hardcover).

Courthouse Democracy and Minority Rights, written by award winning author, Robert J. Hume, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, examines why certain state court decisions have had a lasting impact on same-sex marriage by legalizing it while other state courts have been unable or unwilling to provide marriage equality to residents.  I recommend that Courthouse Democracy and Minority Rights be included in an academic law library collection. 

In the introduction (chapters 1 and 2), Hume provides a clear roadmap of the book’s structure and sets forth his thesis that various factors relating to the democratization of state courts and state constitutional systems have been critical to state court success in legalizing same-sex marriage.  Hume provides a context for his thesis by discussing and comparing previous state court decisions in favor of and against same-sex marriage.

In Part II (chapters 3 and 4) of the book, Hume provides a more thorough history of same-sex marriage by discussing, in great detail, the state court decisions that have shaped the debate surrounding same-sex marriage.  Through this extensive history, Hume discusses the limited, but important, early court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage and the backlash that occurred as a result of these court decisions, which led to many states passing constitutional amendments outlawing same-sex marriage.

Hume shifts gears in Part III (chapters 5 -8) of the book by focusing on how some state courts have been able to initiate policy, implement the policy, and ultimately have a long-term effect on the issue of same-sex marriage.  In this section of the book, Hume helps readers understand the different factors that impact state courts’ ability to initiate, implement, and have a lasting impact on same-sex marriage, including institutional, constitutional, ideological, and environmental factors.  Hume also revisits the passage of state constitutional amendments that prohibit same-sex marriage by examining the factors contributing to states passing these amendments.  In the final chapter of the book, Hume summarizes his finding, providing a concise narrative for his readers.  Part III of the book includes extensive data from existing and original surveys to support Hume’s findings.  The data is presented in both chart and narrative form, making it easy for readers to understand the arguments that Hume is making.  Hume’s knowledge of the issues surrounding same-sex marriage and his grasp of the statistics are evident while reading this book but it should be noted that Hume does not hold a J.D. degree.

A review of this book would not be complete without considering its relevance in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decisions in U.S. v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ____ (2013) and Hollingsworth v. Perry, 570 U.S. ___ (2013), two cases decided after the publication of this book.  With the Court’s decision in Windsor placing the issues of legalizing same-sex marriage and obtaining federal benefits squarely on the states, Courthouse Democracy and Minority Rights may play an integral role in determining how to challenge state constitutional amendments that outlaw same-sex marriage.  However, Windsor may also create new ways of challenging marriage inequality in states that were not discussed by Hume, potentially rendering it outdated.  There is no indication that this book will be updated to include a discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court cases mentioned above.  Even without additional discussion of Windsor and Hollingsworth, Courthouse Democracy and Minority Rights will remain useful in providing a historical perspective on the same-sex marriage movement in the United States.

The book concludes with a comprehensive bibliography, table of authorities, and subject index. 

Nancy B. Talley is an Assistant Professor and Reference Librarian at Rutgers University School of Law Library in Camden, New Jersey.

Sources Cited:

1.  U.S. v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ____ (2013).

2.  Hollingsworth v. Perry, 570 U.S. ____ (2013).



Posted By Nancy Talley at 7/26/2013 8:44:49 AM  0 Comments