Vol. 20, No. 3 (Spring 1998)

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RIPS Law Librarian
vol. 20, no. 3
Spring 1998

Message From The Chair
Kory D. Staheli  

I just received the preliminary program for the annul meeting in Anaheim and it looks great!  I always look forward to the annual meeting and the opportunity to gather with friends and colleagues who share my enthusiasm for law libraries.  I have benefitted greatly both personally and professionally over the years from attending the annual meeting.  This year I am particularly pleased with the number of opportunities RIPS members will have to come together and interact.  If you haven't done so already, please take a few minutes and look at the RIPS activities listed in the program index.   In addition to the RIPS Business Meeting, you will notice that we have arranged for a number of other activities, including RIPS committee meetings and round table discussions.  In the past there was never enough time during the business meeting to accomplish all we wanted to.  Separate meeting times for committee work and discussions should solve our time dilemma, and will hopefully allow us to accomplish more.

I was very pleased to learn from Gail Partin, RIPS Secretary/Treasurer, that our membership continues to grow. Recent calculations show that we have grown from 387 members in 1996 to nearly 450 members in 1997.  That is good news indeed!  However, we would sure like to see more participation from members.  There was a very low response to our call for volunteers in the last newsletter, and attendance at our business meetings the past few years has been less than what we would like to see (averaging between 35 and 50 in attendance).   If you have any desire at all to be involved, please let a member of the Board know.  We are not an elitist group, and there are many opportunities available to become involved in this SIS at all levels, including leadership.  

Speaking of leadership, Gary Hill, our Nominations Committee Chair, and his committee (Melissa Serfass and Meg Collins) have given us an excellent slate of candidates to choose from for next year's RIPS officers.  Be sure to take the time to read their statements and then vote.

Gail Partin and Karen Brunner continue to do an outstanding job with the Legal Research Teach-in. Without Gail and Karen's dedication over the years I'm sure this worthwhile program would have died out by now.  I understand from Gail that Kristin Gerdy was also a big help with the Teach-In this year. A big thanks to all of you for your efforts.

Bobbie Studwell's Briefs in Law Librarianship Series continues to do well. Not many members know that Bobbie has donated the royalties from the sale of this series directly to RIPS.  Thanks Bobbie for your commitment and ongoing support of the SIS.   Bobbie has also taken a leadership role in helping develop the RIPS Web Page, and is doing an outstanding job.  I understand that the Page will be up and functioning on AALLNET very soon.  Look for  more details in the next newsletter.

Many of you have inquired about the Core Legal Research Competencies document prepared by Ellen Callinan and the former Research Instruction Caucus. This document is now available on AALLNET in space set aside for the RIPS Web Page.  To get there, select Leadership, then Specials Interest Sections, then SIS Listing, and finally RIPS.  If you plan to attend the program in Anaheim dealing with this document, you may want to go on the web and familiarize yourself with its contents.

The Board, along with the Publicity and Recruitment Committee, has come up with what we feel will be a great way to publicize the SIS at the Annual Meeting. We are in the process of designing a very simple but tasteful embroidered sticker with the word "RIPS" on it that can be easily attached to the name tags of conference attendees.   We will be giving these stickers away at the RIPS table in the exhibit hall and also to CONELL attendees in an effort to publicize our SIS.  We encourage all RIPS members to stop by and pick up a sticker, and then to wear it proudly!    

Value-Added Circulation
by Jessie L. Cranford  

There is often discussion about ensuring that various constituencies recognize the value of the library and give us their continued support.  However,  because of staff  shortages and budgetary constraints, it is sometimes difficult to enhance existing library services or add new ones.  What can librarians and staff do to be perceived as more valuable?  In recent years, the UALR/Pulaski County Law Library Circulation Department has offered two services that require little additional overhead or manpower, but have proven to please patrons -- a Telefax Service and a Faculty Photocopy Service.

Finding small things we can do to further meet patron needs does create a greater sense of customer satisfaction.The Circulation Assistant and the Assistant to the Director proposed and developed the Telefax Service in 1993 in response to frequent student requests to send or receive personal faxes.  It is offered as a convenience to our patrons.  Circulation desk workers send and receive personal faxes for patrons for  basically the same fee they would be charged at the local Kinko's.  Charges are $2.00 per page to send a domestic fax, $11.00 for the first page and $5.00 for each subsequent page to send an international fax, and $.50 per page to receive a fax. The service makes just one more type of information technology easily accessible to our patrons.  Rather than costing the library money, it generates a small amount, taking in $246 so far this fiscal year.

The Law Library began offering its Faculty Photocopy Service in 1992. The primary stated goal of the service is enhanced library support of faculty research.  An underlying motive is to keep more of our journals on the shelves in the library and not in faculty offices. Instead of checking multiple periodicals or reporters out of the library, participating faculty members call librarians with lists of citations, and the circulation staff makes copies of the needed journal articles and cases.   The cost of the copies is charged back to the faculty member's budget.

Requests are routed to the Circulation Librarian or Circulation Assistant.  Pulling and copying is then assigned to student labor whenever possible.  Full-time circulation staff will do the copying if no student is available.  Completed requests are turned in to the librarian or assistant, who checks the copies for legibility and accuracy before delivering them to the professor. We strive for a maximum turnaround time of 48 hours, usually delivering the materials on the same day the request is received.   Problem citations are referred back to the Reference Librarian on duty. Requests for articles from titles the library does not own are sent to Interlibrary Loan.

Response to the service has been positive, though cycles of use vary greatly.  In 1992, the first year of the service, the staff filled 20 faculty requests, copying 1,316 pages.  In 1997, the staff filled only seven requests, copying a total of 339 pages.  The highest use to date was in 1996, when staff filled 24 requests totaling 1,991 pages.

Should library circulation departments offer these and other "extra" services?  While the bulk of our Circulation Staff's duties still revolve around the routine things our patrons simply take for granted -- checking items in and out, retrieving reserve materials, routing phone calls, fixing copiers, stacks maintenance, looseleaf updating, etc. --   finding small things we can do to further meet patron needs does create a greater sense of customer satisfaction.    That works for me!

Jessie L. Cranford is the Circulation Librarian at UALR/Pulaski County Law Library in Arkansas    

Hot Topic:  Electronic Course Reserves

by Duane Strojny  

Since electronic course reserves are not defined in any traditional dictionary and our library is trying to deal with the issues surrounding them, I have come up with my own definition that I plan to submit to Webster's and Collier's.  At this point, I am sure it is not technical enough, but hopefully it represents what others consider electronic course reserve materials to be at this time.

electronic course reserves: (n)
1. the duplication of materials already in paper format into computer readable and accessible format.
2. a complication of the current system of delivering library reserve material to patrons. (v) -ing (as in electronic course reserving)
3. the act of creating chaos in both the circulation and computer services departments.  also known as e-reserves or E-res.

Electronic course reserves are definitely a hot topic.  At this point, many academic law libraries are mounting old exams on web sites.  Others are developing more complicated set-ups.  For example, at Cooley, we are developing faculty course pages.  In addition to syllabi and course requirements, faculty are beginning to add assignments and create class discussion lists.  The problems of merging traditional reserve desk procedures and technology are numerous.  More and more, librarians are becoming immersed in moving traditional course reserves into new formats.  This brief article will outline some of the questions that need to be answered, relay my current experiences, and discuss some of the resources out there to look at.

The list is long, but here is a shot at some of the questions that we are grappling with.
1. Copyright - Do you need permission to mount to a web site or intranet?
2. Duplication - Do you need to retain items in print and online?
3. Decision-making - What departments are involved in the decision making concerning the setup of the materials?
4.  Education - What type of training is necessary for patrons, staff and faculty?
5.  Supervision - Who performs the day-to-day? Circulation?  Computer Services?  Reference?  Secretarial support?

Not only does a lot of communication need to occur between library departments and faculty to make anything in electronic format a reality, but there has to be room for trial and error.  Students are much more forgiving when told up front that they are being involved in a pilot project.  Follow up with a survey to help solicit their input.

A Personal Experience
We have a proactive Associate Dean of Library and Information Services (a.k.a. director and computer guru) and Head of Patron Services who are aware of many of the issues surrounding electronic reserves.  A pilot project for the current semester received little enthusiasm from the selected faculty (teachers of first year classes with items that most likely would not have sticky copyright issues).  The goal is to give it another try starting in May.  One of the advantages to a year round program is that we have the chance to try things three times a year ( a new class of 200 to 400 begins three times each year!).  As far as exams are concerned, we have a thorough collection of exams given since the beginning of the school (a mere twenty-five years).  We have been loading most of them on an internal student access network since January of 1997 and are now working on some retroactive conversion.  Some faculty are experimenting with discussion lists and TWEN (The West Educational Network) is one option faculty have.  Our own template for electronic course pages is not too bad.  With faculty cooperation, I believe we are on the right track for setting up electronic access to many resources for the students.

Do you have questions about electronic course reserves?  There are a couple of listservs that might be helpful.  Try either tech-noids or arl-ereserve@cni.org.  The web site for the Electronic Reserves Clearinghouse has links to nearly everything you would want to know about e-reserves.  As with all web sites, even though the page was last updated on March 5, 1998 (at the writing of this article), there are links that do not work or need to be tried at least twice for connecting.  Northwestern University Library has a great page about copyright issues.

Finally, how about some print resources?  While these may become outdated as quickly as they are printed, articles or books on the subject can put things in perspective and give us ideas about what other people are doing.  Take a look at Transforming libraries: issues and innovations in electronic reserves, ALA Spec. Kit 217, October 1996.

Okay, there really is not too much else out there.  Even when I decided to put on my library researcher hat and look in the indexes, what I found was minimal.  In Library Literature, you can look up Automation of library processes - Reserve collections.  In Legal Information Management Index search under ELECTRONIC.  Maybe something applicable will pop up.

It appears that networking with peers and checking out other web sites is the best route to gain information about electronic course reserves at this time.  Each year, the CALI Institute in Chicago brings together many from the legal education field to talk about technology.  Whatever your plan of attack, you can anticipate problems, questions and a lot of work in developing policies and procedures at the beginning.  In the end, you can expect results that are interesting and exciting for all involved.

[Special thanks to Rita Marsala, Thomas M. Cooley Law Library Head of Patron Services, for her insight into the world of electronic course reserves.]

Duane Strojny  is Associate Director for Library and Information Services at Thomas M. Cooley Law School Library in Lansing, MI.

The Wide, Wide World of Reference
by Melissa Serfass  

Most of the lay patrons who use our law library ask reference questions that are fairly routine.  We do what we can to assist them,  but sometimes, they ask for something that just doesn't exist.  The following situation involved a patron who knew exactly what he was looking for.  He was just having a little trouble pinning it down.  Two librarians helped him.  They say it went something like this: 

L1: Can I help you with the online catalog, sir?
P: Yes, I need books on civil rights.
L1: Let me show you how to run a word search.  Type in "civil rights" and you will get a list of books and their call numbers.
P: (After the list of titles came up, he scanned it and said) No - this isn't what I need.  I need the civil rights of virgins.  
L1: Of what?
P: Of virgins.
L1: They don't have any extra civil rights.
P: Yes they do.  There is a city law that provides free housing for virgins.
L1: No, there isn't.
P: Yes, there is.
L1: Well, if there is it's in the Code of Ordinances on reserve.  But I can tell you right now you are wasting your time.  I have to leave, but there is another librarian here who will help you if you have more questions.

A short while later he appeared at L2's door.

L2: Yes, can I help you?
P: The other lady said you could help me find out about the civil rights of virgins.
L2: I'm not familiar with that law.  What exactly does it say?
P: There is a law that the city of Little Rock has to provide free housing for virgins, such as a man like myself.  I know I found it here once before.   I think I can find the book it was in.
L2: I've  never heard of any such law or case.  Show me the book.
P: Right here, this big book.
L2: The Webster's Third International Dictionary ? Are you sure?
P: Yes, I'm sure.  That's where it is.
L2: That book is a dictionary.  There aren't any laws in it.  I can show you books that contain laws if you would like.
P: No, I'll just look in here. This is where I found it.

He spent several minutes looking through the dictionary.  Eventually, he was asked to leave the library when he began to walk in circles near the security gates. After an absence of several months, he was in the library recently.  He didn't approach the reference desk, but somehow managed to leave the library with a reserve copy of an expensive book on Arkansas probate law.  

Melissa Serfass is the Computer Services/Reference Librarian at the UALR/Pulaski County Law Library in Arkansas.  

Internet Tools
compiled by Jean Wenger  

The quest to discover quality web sites for use in research instruction and patron services is an undertaking we have assumed in recent years.  Our patrons, whether law students, law faculty, lawyers or judges, have developed an insatiable need for access to law-related resources.  In the hunt for sites, the usual resource suspects come to mind: listservs, professional journals/newsletter, conferences and continuing education programs.

Several notable Internet-based publications offer another avenue for reaping an additional   crop of useful web sites.  With new editions of these web based services coming out at regular intervals, scheduling a time to check for the latest sites is easy. BIGEAR: Current Legal Resources on the Net, http://barratry.law.cornell.edu:5123/notify/buzz. html is an experimental service created by Tom Bruce of the Cornell Legal Information Institute.  Compiled and archived weekly, BIGEAR selects messages containing references to Internet documents.  Each entry contains the title of the document, a link, and a link to the message "announcing" it on the listserv. Listservs monitored: LAWSRC-L, NET-LAWYERS, TEKNOIDS, LAW-LIB, LEGAL-WEBMASTERS, and INT-LAW. Cornell law librarians have annotated selected sites of interest to legal researchers.

Law Library Resource Xchange is a free web publication focusing on research, management and technology topics for legal professionals.  Updated throughout the course of each month, LLRX has feature articles, columns and departments covering a wide range of information and technology news.  Archives of earlier editions are available under the "Library" link.  For the latest news, free monthly e-mail updates are available upon request.  Law Library Resource Xchange is edited by Sabrina I. Pacifici and Cindy Chick.

The Scout Report  is published every Friday, both on the web and by email, by the Internet Scout Project, Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin.  The Scout Report provides annotated reviews of valuable Internet resources including law- related sites. See also Scout Report for the Social Sciences at http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/scout/report/ socsci/, the Scout Report for Business and Economics at http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/scout/report/bus-econ/ and the Scout Report for Science and Engineering at http://wwwscout.cs.wisc.edu/scout/report/sci- engr/index.html.

Additionally, the web pages of print publications provide selected full-text articles that can reap rich Internet rewards. Database magazine  from Online Inc. is written for the "hands on" searcher and manager of information. ONLINE magazine,  from Online Inc., is a magazine covering the selection, use, and management of electronic information products.  These web sites have links to selected full-text articles and news from each bimonthly issue of the magazine, including an annual index.

In fact, many of the Internet newsletters that cross our desks each month have web sites offering selected full-text articles from their print counterpart.  Check them out!

By Jean Wenger, Librarian,Cook County Law Library, Chicago.