AALL eBriefing / Important Update on the 2021 AALL Annual Meeting & Conference

2021 AALL ANNUAL MEETING & CONFERENCE TO BE HELD VIRTUALLY

2020 was a year of firsts—our first year facing a worldwide pandemic, our first year navigating our (mostly) fully remote lives, and our first year holding a virtual Annual Meeting & Conference. During a time that brought many unforeseen challenges, your AALL community remained dedicated to providing you with the resources and education you need for continued success. After careful consideration of the continued COVID-19 pandemic and related government restrictions, AALL has been forced to transition the 2021 AALL Annual Meeting & Conference from an in-person meeting to an online virtual experience, which will take place in July 2021.

Your health and safety are our priority in any decisions we make. The availability of a vaccine is a very positive development following a year marked by constant setbacks. While the current process for distribution is encouraging, it is dependent on many variables that remain unknown and are constantly changing. The current restrictions in Cleveland, such as limits on indoor gatherings, and major reductions in inbound and outbound flights, makes it impracticable for AALL to plan for an in-person Annual Meeting & Conference. For these reasons, transitioning to a fully Virtual 2021 Annual Meeting & Conference is in the best interests of AALL and its members.

We remain excited that almost 1,300 attendees joined us last July for the 2020 AALL Virtual Conference. In follow-up surveys, you provided us with very useful feedback, and—like many of you—we have learned so much about best practices for virtual education this year. We are looking to offer an even more engaging, fun, and interactive experience for everyone.

As you may recall, the call for program proposals for the 2021 Annual Meeting & Conference included a question about whether the proposed program could be offered virtually. The Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC) will soon meet virtually to select programs. AALL has also extended the deadlines for grants and scholarships to May 1, 2021. As we move forward with planning for a virtual conference that best meets your needs, we request that you complete a brief (three-question) survey by Friday, February 5, 2021.

The AALL Executive Board, headquarters staff, committee members, and volunteers continue to work diligently on your behalf to advance the legal information profession and support your professional growth. Your ongoing support of and participation in AALL are essential and valued, and your understanding and patience during this time are also appreciated.

If you have questions or comments, please call AALL Headquarters at 312.939.4764 or email leadership@aall.org. AALL will keep you informed as planning progresses.

As always, thank you for your time, thoughts, and patience as we move forward toward our virtual conference.

 
Emily R. Florio
AALL PresidentAALL Executive Board Members
Vani Ungapen
AALL Executive DirectorAALL Headquarters Staff

Washington eBulletin – January 2021

AALL Advocacy / 2020 Year In Review

2020 was a challenging and unpredictable year for all of us. As the COVID-19 pandemic changed our professional and personal lives, AALL focused on advocating for the immediate needs of the legal information industry. We are grateful to all the AALL members and partners who joined the Association’s advocacy efforts throughout the year, sharing stories about how your law libraries are adapting to serve your organizations. Below are a few highlights of AALL’s government relations issues and advocacy efforts in 2020:

SUPPORTING GREATER ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

In March, AALL 2019-2020 President Michelle Cosby testified before the U.S. House of Representatives (House) Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee in support of the funding requests of the Library of Congress and the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO). AALL also advocated for funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Congress provided additional funds to IMLS and NARA to ensure continued public access to information during the pandemic. In April, AALL President Cosby provided suggestions for improvements to Regulations.gov during the General Services Administration’s virtual public meeting about public access to regulatory data.

The federal Judiciary launched a new website for the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system in June, incorporating some of AALL’s recommendations to modernize the website to provide improved access to court information. Legislation to make PACER free, including the Open Courts Records Act (H.R. 8235), passed the U.S. House but was not considered by the Senate. The Judicial Conference of the United States and Congressional leadership have expressed interest in continuing negotiations on a new PACER bill in the 117th Congress.

In addition, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts selected AALL member Theresa A. Reiss to serve on its new public user group to provide advice and feedback on ways to improve PACER and the Judiciary’s other electronic public access services. The GPO selected AALL’s nominee, Jennifer Bryan Morgan, to serve on the Depository Library Council (DLC). As a member of the DLC, Morgan provides advice and recommendations to the GPO and its new director, Hugh Halpern on improving policy and operational matters related to the Federal Depository Library Program.

In December, the Office of Management and Budget accepted AALL’s recommendation to include librarians at educational institutions, including academic law librarians, as eligible for fee exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act. The Administrative Conference of the United States accepted AALL’s recommendation that agencies include a “last updated” date when they publish federal court filings and court opinions on their websites.

AALL 2020-2021 President Emily R. Florio and AALL 2020-2021 Vice President Diane M. Rodriguez participated in the Legal Services Corporation’s podcast Talk Justice in December to discuss AALL’s support for access to justice and the role law libraries play in closing the justice gap.

PROMOTING A BALANCE IN COPYRIGHT LAWS

In August, AALL President Florio participated in the House Judiciary Committee’s listening session to discuss how law libraries have been impacted by Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

In October, the United States Patent and Trade Office cited AALL’s comments about copyright considerations in artificial intelligence (AI) in a report on AI and intellectual property policy. In November, AALL met with the new leader of the U.S. Copyright Office, Shira Perlmutter, and her staff to learn about Register Perlmutter’s priorities and share AALL’s perspective on the copyright needs of law librarians and legal information professionals.

AALL ADVOCACY RESOURCES

AALL provided advocacy training opportunities and additional advocacy resources for members throughout the year. In September, we held the AALL Virtual Legislative Advocacy Training featuring Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). The AALL Government Relations Committee gathered voting resources, including information about registering to vote, finding your polling place, and requesting absentee and mail-in ballots.

AALL will continue to provide members with training and resources to advocate for the legal information profession in 2021. AALL has an upcoming advocacy training, Government Law Library Funding: Advocacy Training for Law Libraries.

AALL & THE 117TH CONGRESS 

The 117th United States Congress convened on January 3, 2021. Days later, the violent events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 shocked and outraged many of us. Congress is now focused on the security breach and potential actions in response to these events. AALL believes that equitable access to legal information is a core component of a healthy democracy.

Following the November elections and the January runoff election in Georgia, the Democrats will lead the House and U.S. Senate for the next two years. AALL is awaiting more information about the new Administration’s priorities before finalizing its new legislative priorities.

As the work of the new Congress continues, AALL continues to monitor legislation that impacts law libraries and the legal information profession. We will also continue to work with AALL chapters to advocate for the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act at the state level. We will keep you informed of any developments that may impact your law libraries.

COVID RELIEF PACKAGE / BENEFITS FOR THE LEGAL INFORMATION INDUSTRY

The $900 billion coronavirus relief package signed by President Trump on December 27, 2020 included several benefits for the legal information industry. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is designed to help small businesses, received an additional $284 billion. Congress made several changes to the PPP that could help eligible entities, including solo and small law firms; nonprofits; independent contractors; and self-employed individuals. The changes include allowing PPP recipients to receive a second PPP loan; expanding the list of forgivable expenses; and clarifying that forgiven PPP loans will be tax deductible.

As part of the relief package, individuals received a second round of direct payments from the federal government. Those unemployed received additional benefits including $300 per week through March 14, 2021. In addition, unemployment benefits were extended to self-employed individuals and gig workers.

FY 2021 FEDERAL AGENCY FUNDING LEVELS SUPPORT GREATER ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

AALL has advocated for these agencies’ funding requests to support free public access to government information, such as bills and statutes, the United States Statutes at Large, and the Congressional Record. The funding also supports the agencies’ digitization and preservation efforts that provide access to information produced by the federal government.

The funding package also contained legislation that created the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). The CASE Act creates a new Copyright Claims Board within the U.S. Copyright Office to evaluate copyright infringement matters for claims under $30,000. Importantly, the law includes the ability for libraries to opt out of proceedings before the Copyright Claims Board. The law requires the Copyright Office to establish the Copyright Claims Board within one year of the bill’s enactment. AALL will provide more information once opt out procedures have been developed by the U.S. Copyright Office.

ADVOCACY TRAINING / REGISTER NOW

GOVERNMENT LAW LIBRARY FUNDING: ADVOCACY TRAINING FOR LAW LIBRARIES

  • Thursday, February 11, 2021 / 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (CST)
  • Register Now
  • Free for members and nonmembers

Government law libraries are funded in a variety of ways: through local, state, or federal budgets, court fees and fines, subscriptions, or a combination of all of those. Many court systems are currently re-evaluating the impacts of court fees and fines on members of the public, and government budgets are facing significant cuts due to the pandemic. Now more than ever, government law librarians and their allies must effectively advocate for full funding of their libraries. This webinar will empower participants with successful advocacy strategies they can implement at their institutions. This training will be moderated by Jean L. Willis, assistant director for support services at the Sacramento County Public Law Library. Speakers include Miriam D. Childs, director at the Law Library of Louisiana and Suzanne B. Corriell, circuit librarian at the U.S. Court of Appeals Library for the Fourth Circuit.