Education & Training

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

LISP-SIS Programs at the AALL Annual Meeting


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. Recording available following the event.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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