Education & Training

Materials created through AALL programs, web programs, online discussions and more.

LISP-SIS Programs at the AALL Annual Meeting


LISP-SIS/GLL-SIS/SR-SIS Joint Roundtable on Law Library Services to Prisoners and Public Patrons. Law Libraries as Brave Spaces: Building Equity and Inclusion

This thought-provoking roundtable will discuss the importance of cultivating courage to foster equity and inclusion within our Library communities. We will explore the principles of safe and brave spaces and how these concepts are being applied in libraries, with a focus on services to incarcerated and public patrons. The discussion will focus on the skills useful for maintaining safe and brave spaces, as well as strategies, challenges, and best practices for using those skills to integrate equity into library operations, including collection development, customer service, physical and online space planning, programs, policies, and procedures. Participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences, insights, and suggestions for transforming our libraries into spaces that promote belonging, safety, trust, and openness. Come prepared to engage in meaningful conversations and explore ways to create positive change in our library communities.

Joint Roundtable Resources


Within the U.S., the Constitution recognizes three types of sovereigns: federal, state, and tribal. However, under the mainstream conception of American law, the laws of the 574 federally recognized tribal governments are often overlooked. This program will explore sources and principles of federal Indian and tribal law, including sovereignty, governance, jurisdiction, and government-to-government relationships, enabling librarians to better support attorneys, court personnel, students, scholars, and pro se patrons researching in this area. It will also present opportunities for law libraries to promote awareness of, respect for, and access to tribal law. Presenters will suggest ways to integrate tribal law in legal education programs and describe advocacy efforts to include Indigenous sources in the Bluebook. They will also introduce the Digital Publication of Tribal Laws Pilot Project in which librarians and developers partnered with Native Nations to publish their laws open access and incorporate them into two federated digital library collections. Attendees will discover how they can seamlessly incorporate the laws of participating tribes into their own digital collections at no cost, providing additional access to these important sources of American law.

This program is co-sponsored by the LISP-SIS and the RIPS-SIS.



According to the Self Represented Litigants Network, “3 out of 5 people in civil cases go to court without a lawyer.” In response to this fundamental access to justice issue, legal technologists have created innovative apps and websites to guide self-represented litigants through the civil legal process. This panel will feature legal technologists from the University of Denver and the Institute of the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) as they take us through the development of apps and websites from inception to use. Panelists will discuss the importance of a human-centered design approach, user experience testing, and how library staff can help.

This program is sponsored by the LISP-SIS.

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A truth and reconciliation commission is an official body tasked with the investigation and redress of past human rights abuses by a government in the hope of resolving conflict and promoting healing by impacted communities in a way not possible through other means. One such example, led by the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, involved a multi-year truth-seeking process about child-welfare practices involving Maine’s Native people. Other examples can be found in South Africa post-apartheid or in Canada following its legacy of mandatory boarding schools for indigenous children.  Several universities have undergone similar processes as part of reckoning their ties to slavery.  This session will feature a moderator and four speakers.  Speakers will discuss the concepts of truth telling and reconciliation and will describe ways in which librarians can support the research and work of these unique forms of justice.

This program is curated by the LISP-SIS Education Committee.

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Understanding Bias in Artificial Intelligence: How Algorithms Impact Our Patrons and Work

Now, more than ever, artificial intelligence (AI) affects people’s lives in significant ways. It is increasingly employed in housing, advertising, hiring, and the criminal justice system and is unquestionably fundamental to the current practice of law librarianship. Algorithms quietly make decisions without us knowing when or how they do it. While they can help us make sense of massive amounts of data, they can also misinterpret data and perpetuate bias. It is critical for law librarians to understand and raise awareness of AI bias and how it affects our patrons and our work. Panelists in the program will discuss various ways in which AI systems are biased, how this bias pervades the law, and what law librarians can do about these issues.

This program is sponsored by the LISP-SIS.

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Law Library Neutrality in a Time of Political Upheaval

However unachievable, neutrality is often viewed as a core value of our profession. Does neutrality serve today’s libraries, or does it do harm by limiting our conversations and ability to take action? According to Jennifer A. Ferreti, “critical librarianship is not neutral.” In the current times, where libraries are contending with issues such as escalating prices, diminished bargaining power, and contentious political upheaval, it may be time to reconsider neutrality as the best way forward for our patrons, our institutions, and ourselves as professionals. This panel will discuss critical librarianship and conflicts of neutrality.

This program is sponsored by the LISP-SIS.

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Engaging Public Librarians in the Access to Justice Movement: Creating Skills-Based Legal Research Continuing Education Programs

Public libraries and librarians are vital components of the access to justice movement. Nevertheless, public librarians can be hesitant to provide legal information because of worries of unauthorized practice of law or unfamiliarity with legal materials. Several members of a working group of the Connecticut Access to Justice Commission designed a continuing education program for public librarians that addresses common types of legal questions and presents information in a “hands-on” way.

This program will teach participants how to successfully develop their own “hands-on” program. Participants will learn how to partner with local public libraries and conduct surveys and focus groups to determine what types of legal reference questions public librarians commonly receive. The presenters will discuss how to tailor an instructional program based on survey and focus group responses and provide guidance on how to create instructional activities designed to reinforce learning and immediate feedback. Finally, presenters will discuss how to provide public librarians with the tools to perform legal reference interviews and how to develop in-class role playing exercises so that students can practice and receive feedback.

This program is sponsored by the LISP-SIS.

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What Librarians Can Learn from The Green Bag: A Conversation with Ross E. Davies

Who among us hasn’t heard of or sought after those quirky Supreme Court bobbleheads? This session is your chance to meet bobblehead creator and master of marketing, Ross E. Davies. Professor Davies is the Editor-in-Chief of the popular The Green Bag law journal and the brains behind the publication’s notable outreach approach. The Green Bag manages to celebrate legal “geekery” while remaining widely respected by all corners of the legal profession. It explores legal history but is also on the cutting edge of what is happening now. The creative strategist behind this ever-evolving balancing act is going to share his insights with attendees. This fireside chat with Professor Davies focuses on how outreach strategies, such as those employed by The Green Bag, can be used to make law, generally, and access to justice initiatives, specifically, more fun and accessible to everyone.

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Uncertainty Management: A Tool to Assist Self-Represented Litigants

Uncertainty is at the core of every reference interaction. For the patron, uncertainty is the legal issue or problem with which they are struggling. For the librarian, uncertainly manifests in the question itself, the emotional pressure from the patron, or the conflict with ethical and/or institutional policies. To avoid unsatisfactory reference experiences, librarians can appraise the patron’s uncertainty, then use management techniques to steer the patron toward better options and deflect emotional manipulation by the patron. This session will explain uncertainty management theory; demonstrate appraisal mechanisms to manage uncertainty; and finally, using dramatized reference examples, demonstrate how these techniques can be applied to provide a better reference experience. This program is sponsored by the LISP-SIS.


Texas-Sized Access to Justice: A Conversation with Trish Mcallister

The Texas Access to Justice Commission, created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 2001, is charged with developing and implementing initiatives designed to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans. Led by Executive Director Trish McAllister, the commission’s work includes building partnerships, fundraising, harnessing technology, and working with the legal community. Structured in the form of a fireside chat, this program aims to show how one state has approached civil A2J and how it has succeeded (and sometimes failed) with a number of innovative initiatives. This program is sponsored by the LISP-SIS.


Mass Incarceration and Its Impact on Public and Pro Bono Legal Reference

According to the Sentencing Project, the United States is the world’s leader in incarceration, with 2.2 million people currently behind bars. Including those on probation and parole, nearly 7 million people in the United States were under some form of criminal justice supervision in 2012.  In addition to those currently under supervision, there are innumerable criminal law and procedure related requests received by public law libraries. This program aims to provide a platform of general criminal law information on which reference librarians can build appropriate responses to such patrons. This timely program is an introduction to the topic of mass incarceration in America, as well as a conversation about how to best meet the legal research needs of this large and largely unsophisticated patron group.

List of suggested readings


Communicating with Everyone: Clear Writing and Expression

Law librarians communicate with patrons with a wide range of learning abilities and educational backgrounds. The complexity of the law adds a unique challenge to this communication. Librarians must convey information about both the substantive and procedural aspects of the law in an accurate manner, while not providing legal advice. Additionally, librarians must make information accessible to patrons. This means translating complicated information into plain, simple, and straightforward language, without losing the subtleties of the law. The program panelists will share techniques and insights relating to clearly communicating the law to non-lawyers. Panelists will discuss best practices for completing written material in the clearest language possible, as well as provide tips on practicing clear verbal communication. A list of resources, including samples and examples of clear writing, will be provided.

Online Discussions


Diversity and Inclusion

An online five-day discussion on diversity and inclusion co-hosted and moderated by Legal Information Services to the Public SIS, Research Instruction & Patron Services SIS, Social Responsibility SIS, AALL Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and the Black Caucus of AALL.

An article about the discussion was published in AALL Spectrum 24 (Sept/Oct 2019): 30-32


Five Topics in Five Days: Critical Conversations About Social Justice

A joint online discussion with the Legal Information Service to the Public SIS, Government Law Libraries SIS, Research Instruction & Patron Services SIS, and the Social Responsibility SIS discussion topics related to social justice.

Summary of the discussion


Five Topics in Five Days:  Service Limits in Public Law Libraries

A coalition of four AALL Special Interest Sections, LISP (Legal Information Service to the Public), GLL (Government Law Libraries), RIPS (Research Instruction and Patron Services) and SR (Social Responsibility) took on the task of shepherding a week‐long online conversation that explored service limits in public law libraries.

Summary of the discussion


Five Topics in Five Days:  Mental Health Issues in Law Libraries

A web-discussion sponsored by the Social Responsibilities SIS, the Government Law Libraries SIS (fka SCCLL-SIS) and RIP-SIS covered topics such as library rules and policies, maintaining mental health at work, security issues, and further resources that discuss mental health topics.

Mental Health Law Resources