Washington E-Bulletin - June 2013

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Vol. 2013, Issue 06

A Look Ahead

Before heading out of town for the Memorial Day break, members of Congress took action on a number of AALL’s policy priorities. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported out the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2013 (ECPA) (S. 607); the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held the first in a series of hearings on copyright reform; and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch held hearings on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget requests of the Government Printing Office (GPO) and the Library of Congress.

In addition to our work on Capitol Hill, the Government Relations Office is currently working with several federal agencies on issues of mutual concern. For example, we’ve offered feedback to the Department of Justice on their proposal to use metadata to build a government-wide FOIA library; with the National Archives and Records Administration on managing government records; and with GPO to support their Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Forecast Study.

AALL has long had a close and productive relationship with GPO. We strongly support GPO’s role in providing no-fee permanent public access to government information through FDsys and the FDLP. During the past year, the Government Relations Office has worked with AALL’s FDLP Task Force to promote law library participation in the FDLP and increase our community’s contributions to the Forecast Study. This month, GPO began releasing data from the state and library forecasts, which they will continue to roll out over the next several months. The initial releases reveal that law libraries are active and dedicated members of the FDLP.

As you’ll read in the following interview with Task Force chair Sally Holterhoff, the Task Force has had a busy and productive term. Although the Task Force is now wrapping up its work, there’s much that AALL and our members can continue to do to ensure that law libraries remain a vital part of the FDLP.

Law Libraries and the FDLP: Excerpts from an Interview with Sally Holterhoff
AALL past president Sarah (Sally) G. Holterhoff is the Associate Professor of Law Librarianship and Government Information/Reference Librarian at Valparaiso University Law School Library. Sally has chaired AALL’s FDLP Task Force since its creation in 2012. The Government Relations Office recently sent Sally a number of questions about the mission of the task force, its past and present work, and the role of law librarians in the FDLP. Below are excerpts from our conversation, which can be read in its entirety here.

What is the history and purpose of AALL’s FDLP Task Force? How did it come about?

Our task force was created in the spring of 2012 by then-president Darcy Kirk, in response to shifting circumstances in the depository library community. At that time, concerns had been raised about the future direction of the FDLP. Also, the Government Printing Office had announced plans to begin a new process of gathering information about the changing needs of depository libraries. AALL clearly had a stake in these matters and in making sure that law librarians would be represented in the discussion and the outcomes. Forming a task force was also an indication of the Association’s long-standing and still-strong commitment to the FDLP.

At the fall 2011 Federal Depository Library Conference, Superintendent of Documents Mary Alice Baish that GPO would be asking each state to respond to a forecast questionnaire that would solicit information about the depository library community in the state and what needed to be changed for the future. States would use the survey results to create state-focused action plans, which would all be brought together to form a national plan. As it happened, many of the librarians attending the conference commented that they would like to complete surveys for their own libraries.  In response, GPO expanded the original proposal to include individual library forecast questionnaires. So, in early 2012, the depository coordinator of each FDLP library was asked to complete a detailed survey, with a June 30 deadline.

With a national conversation on the FDLP’s future underway, it was clearly important to ensure that the issues and perspectives of law librarians would be represented in the process. Two hundred law libraries participate in the FDLP and many others rely on them for government information resources and expertise. It also seemed like a good time to reexamine and reemphasize the valuable participation of law libraries in the program now and through the years.  The Task Force was given a charge directing us to highlight the benefits of the program, to identify changes that would encourage continued participation by law libraries, and to facilitate a broader role for law librarians in discussions on the future of the FDLP.

How have law librarians been involved in the FDLP Forecast Study?

Our new Task Force received some visibility right away when I was asked to give the introduction for a webinar that AALL and GPO were sponsoring jointly: Law Librarians and the Federal Depository Library Program: Working Together for a Successful Future. The webinar included an in-depth look at GPO's FDLP Forecast Study, presented by two GPO staff members, explaining its purpose, goals, and how law librarians could get involved.[…] To encourage law librarians to respond to the Forecast questionnaire, I posted several messages on the e-group list of the Government Documents SIS and in June I wrote a guest post for the Washington Blawg. Because the questionnaire included a number of open-ended questions, it offered an opportunity for law librarians to mention such high priority concerns as digital authentication, online court opinions, permanent public access, and primary legal sources in print. 

What are some of the highlights of the last year and a half?

The Task Force decided it was important to “take the pulse” of law libraries involved in the FDLP. Doing phone interviews with AALL members was the method we chose to do that. In June 2012 the other Task Force members and I together spoke with about 40 AALL members who have a connection with or interest in the depository program. From these conversations we identified some common concerns of law librarians and came up with some specific suggestions for what law libraries need to stay in the program. Following our charge to provide feedback to GPO, we arranged to meet with Mary Alice Baish during the 2012 AALL Annual Meeting in Boston, so we could discuss our findings with her.  Common concerns included preservation of government information in all formats and the digitization of legacy print collections. AALL members would like FDsys to have a more user-friendly interface and to include more federal court opinions. There is still strong support for the FDLP from law libraries of all types. The individuals we contacted say their libraries intend to stay in the program.

To learn more about the task force’s plans for the 2013 AALL Annual Meeting and Conference and its recommendations for the future, read our full interview on the Washington Blawg.

Act Now

Legislative Advocacy Training Update: Register Now!
It’s a critical time to speak up about the public policies that impact law libraries as Congress debates legislation on privacy, copyright and access to government information and many states considering adoption of UELMA. Join us on Saturday, July 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Seattle, WA for AALL's  2013 Legislative Advocacy Training: Advocacy in Practice to hear what's on our legislative agenda at the federal and state levels, learn how you can contribute to our growing advocacy program, and help to develop specific goals and tactics for influencing successful outcomes.

This year’s training will feature a panel discussion on “Grassroots Strategies for Success.” Special guest speaker Justice Bobbe Bridge, retired from the Washington State Supreme Court and King County Superior Court, will share her tips and expertise as a leading advocate. Then, participants will have the opportunity to practice their skills in one of three strategy session. See our agenda for all the information.

The Legislative Advocacy Training is jointly sponsored by the Government Relations Committee and Government Relations Office and is available at no additional cost. To register, sign up during online registration for the Annual Meeting and Conference by June 17. If you didn’t register for the training during conference registration, you can email Elizabeth Holland at eholland@aall.org to sign up. Space is limited, so be sure to reserve your spot.

Tell Congress to Support ECPA Reform
AALL urges Congress to pass legislation to restore a fair balance between the privacy rights of citizens and the legitimate needs of law enforcement by updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) to protect Fourth Amendment rights and uphold the integrity of law enforcement in the digital age. 

Legislation has been introduced in the Senate, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments of 2013 (S. 607), and House, the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 1852), that would properly protects sensitive personal information from intrusive government surveillance by requiring a warrant based on probable cause before obtaining the content of emails and other electronic communications. 

Using our Legislative Action Center, write your members of Congress today to ask them to support and cosponsor this important legislation. Be sure to personalize your letters, drawing on your experiences as a law librarian—own your expertise! This legislation would adequately balance the government's interest in protecting national security with the protections of privacy and freedom from government surveillance the Constitution requires. Congress needs to hear from you.

AALL in the States

UELMA Enacted in Eight States, Implementation Set to Begin
The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) was enacted in Connecticut, Oregon, and Nevada last month, bringing the total number of enactments to 8 states to date. Congratulations to all the AALL advocates and chapter members who worked hard on this success!

The Act continues to see progress elsewhere. In Pennsylvania, UELMA was reported favorably by the State Government Committee and re-referred to Appropriations Committee. The Washington, DC City Council’s Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety is set to hold a hearing on the bill in early July. Two states are set to begin implementation of UELMA next month: Hawaii and North Dakota. In Oregon, UELMA became effective immediately upon enactment in late May.

Stay tuned to our 2013 UELMA Bill Tracking Chart for the latest.

Chapter Government Relations Get-Together July 14
Chapter leaders and government relations chairs are invited to attend the Government Relations Get-Together on Sunday, July 14 at 5:00pm. This informal event will take place at the Fountain Wine Bar in the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, the AALL Headquarters for this year’s Annual Meeting and Conference.

Chapter advocates are invited to network with their fellow chapter contacts, strategize on upcoming advocacy campaigns, and celebrate the chapter successes of the past year, including the enactment of the UELMA in five states to date! AALL Government Relations Office staff Emily Feltren and Elizabeth Holland will be on hand to answer questions, facilitate connections, and share more information on future opportunities for chapter involvement. You won’t want to miss it!

Please RSVP to Elizabeth Holland at eholland@aall.org by Monday, July 8.

Roundup and Review