Fall 2014

From the Chair

Greetings SR-SIS Members,

My name is C.J. Pipins and it is my extreme privilege to serve the SR-SIS as the 2014/15 Chair.  As the ‘social conscience’ of AALL, the SR-SIS has a broad charge that encompasses heightening members’ awareness of critical social issues, as well as fostering inclusion and collaboration.  Over the past year, through the hard work of its members, the SR-SIS has carried out this charge in a number of ways.

Timothy Gatton of Oklahoma City University School of Law Library organized the 2014 book drive, with the help of our local co-organizer Stacy Fowler from St. Mary’s University School of Law.  This year’s book drive benefited the Transitions Program of the San Antonio Independent School District which serves homeless students, students in foster care, and at-risk youth. The drive raised $595 in cash and 378 books.

For a third year, David Selden successfully coordinated the Solar Heater Project. This project helps Native American families who are struggling to pay their heating bills and replaces “dirty” electricity created from coal-fired power plants with clean solar energy.  At the 2014 Annual Meeting, AALL members donated $480 to the Solar Heater Project.  This amount is equivalent to offsetting about 48 tons of C02 and the travel emissions of about 48 conference attendees.  David continues to lead the way on issues of environmental justice and sustainability in AALL and is now the proud new chair of the brand-new SR-SIS Task Force on Environmental Sustainability.  Keep a lookout for exciting programs and more opportunities to get involved with the task force coming soon.

The SR-SIS also officially welcomed a new standing committee this year. I am thrilled to welcome the Standing Committee on Disability Issues to the SR Standing Committee family. They held their first business meeting at the annual meeting in San Antonio and are doing great work to increase awareness of the disability issues that arise in our libraries and to help librarians develop skills to best include and serve patrons with disabilities. In fact they have already offered to consult with a group from RIPS who is writing a white paper about problem patrons in the event that they wish to discuss patrons with disabilities. Check out the website at http://www.aallnet.org/srsis/resources-publications/disability-issues/ for opportunities to get involved or email the current chair, Nick Harrell at Nickholas.Harrell@colorado.edu

At the 2014 Annual Meeting in San Antonio the SR-SIS sponsored “Success in the City Council: Thoughts on a Successful Bid for Equality” moderated by our very own Jane Larrington.  This program brought together a panel of people to discuss the San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance passed last year, and how those experiences can inform similar struggles across the country. Lee Van Duzer organized the Standing Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues’ fantastic reception at Acenar that benefited the Holoch Grant.

The Standing Committee on Law Library Service to Institutional Residents has officially changed its name, and that committee shall now be called the Standing Committee on Law Library Services to Prisoners. The committee is currently in the process of updating the information for all of the libraries in their their online directory of law libraries that provide services to prisoners.  They are also about to update their list of law school clinics that provide services to prisoners.  If you have any information about either of these projects, and would like to help please contact the current chair of that committee, Stacy Etheridge at Stacy.Etheredge@mail.wvu.edu

These are just a few ways the SR-SIS continues to carry out its mission to promote social justice and inclusion.  The SR-SIS leadership is always open to hearing about new projects or issues to work on. If you have an issue that you would like the SR-SIS to explore, or a project another SIS or caucus would like to partner with us to complete, do not hesitate to get in touch with me, Stacy Etheridge, the 2014/15 vice-chair,  or Liza Rosenof, the 2014/15-2015/16 secretary/treasurer.

Charles A. Pipins II
Research Librarian
Thurgood Marshall Law Library
University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Donation of Hotel Soaps, Shampoos, and Lotions

Charles Finger, Associate Director/Associate Professor at Sarita Kenedy East Law Library, St. Mary’s University, coordinated the SR-SIS donation of hotel soaps, shampoos, and lotions to San Antonio’s Family Violence Prevention Services.  In the end, the SR gathered 47 bottles of shampoo, 79 soaps, 24 bottles of conditioner, 3 lip balms, 5 tubes of toothpaste, and 39 containers of lotion.  Additionally, another group had a gross of Moon Pie cookies that they contributed to the shelter group!  The three large bags of items were appreciated.  We will have to try this again next year in Philadelphia!

Margaret (Meg) Butler
Associate Director for Public Services
Georgia State University College of Law Library

Member News

If you have accomplishments—personal or professional—that you would like to share, please email mbutler@gsu.edu.  You are encouraged to submit publications, promotions, job moves, and major life events.

  • Liza Rosenof, SR Secretary, is the new Research/Emerging Technologies Librarian at Western New England School of Law Library.
  • Steven Alexandre de Costa (Ellis) of Boston University School of Law Library got married. A celebration of marriage will be held in Tucson October 25, 2014.
  • Ron Wheeler and Harry Rudolph celebrated their first wedding anniversary on September 28, 2014.  Although the two have been together for almost 14 years, it is only one year since they were legally allowed to wed in California.
  • C.J. Pipins is serving as secretary of the Law Library Association of Maryland.
  • David Selden is the chair of the new SR-SIS Task Force on Environmental Issues
  • A.J. Blechner Reference/Outreach Librarian at the University of Miami Law Library is guest blogging on the AALL Spectrum blog on behalf of the SR-SIS.
  • Meg Butler welcomed daughter Catherine to her family in May—and Catherine enjoyed her first plane trip and her first AALL Annual Meeting in San Antonio.
  • Elliott C. Blevins, Manager of Library & Information Services at Sandberg Phoenix & Von Gontard, P.C., is retiring from the profession.

Librarian Advocacy

The recent Barrier v. Vasterling opinion in Missouri, and subsequent Missouri Attorney General decision not to appeal the case, put Missouri among the states that recognize gay and lesbian marriages.  Elliott Blevins, Manager of Library & Information Services at Sandberg Phoenix & VonGontard, P.C., served an important role, gathering cases articles, editorials, and related materials in support of the pro bono team at his firm who wrote an amicus brief.  His firm newsletter highlighted the team effort between the attorneys and the library!

SR-SIS Task Force Surveys AALL Membership on Environmental Sustainability

The newly appointed SR-SIS Task Force on Environmental Sustainability recently wrapped up a survey of AALL membership on sustainability and the AALL Annual Meeting. Briefly, the survey showed that environmental sustainability is somewhat or very important to 96% of AALL members responding to the survey.  Further, 58% of the membership is somewhat or very likely to make a small donation for off-setting travel emissions if it were included as a possibility on the registration form.

Members explained why they might not be able to make donations through the registration form.  The most common explanation was that the firm/organization/employer may not be willing or able to pay extra.  A few people suggested that they would prefer to have the fee included in the registration cost.  Others suggested that taking other action, such as teleconferencing, was another way to minimize environmental impact.  Suggestions also included cutting down on paper, giving less stuff away, holding more local conferences, holding more online conferences, and holding conferences less frequently.

Of the members responding to the survey, 65% indicated that they attend AALL Annual meeting most years or every year.  There were 342 AALL members responding to the survey.

David Selden
National Indian Law Library

AALL Program Review:  Building Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance While Teaching Legal Research

Kristina Niedringhaus of Georgia State University College of Law Library and Carolyn Broering-Jacobs of Cleveland State University, Cleveland Marshall College of Law gave a spirited and honest discussion about the emergence of grit as a best practice in education before a packed hall at the 107th AALL Annual Meeting & Conference. Their presentation, called Building Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance While Teaching Legal Research, synthesized the scientific research behind grit, and encouraged attendees to share their own experiences implementing grit in legal research instruction.

Grit is the display of perseverance and passion in the attainment of long-term goals.  The research of psychologist Angela Duckworth – among West Point cadets, Wharton School of Business graduates, National Spelling Bee champions, and other high-achieving-groups – indicates that, across demographics, grit is more important in determining success than intelligence or standardized test score. According to Ms. Duckworth, grit is measurable.  Presenters Niedringhaus and Broering-Jacobs administered the Duckworth Grit Scale to the attendees, and, as you would expect in a hall of librarians, the Grit Scale confirmed we were quite the gritty bunch.

Aside from quantifiable data, a student’s grittiness reveals itself in other ways.  For instance, an optimistic explanatory style of negative events correlates to having grit.  Also, students whose words and actions espouse a growth mindset show more resolve and determination in the face of failure than those who demonstrate a fixed mindset.  The growth mindset student willingly risks failure and accepts it as part of the hard work necessary to grow her intelligence and talent.  Conversely, the fixed mindset student believes her intelligence and talent cannot be improved, so she sees no point in working hard, least of all if there is the chance of failure.  This dichotomy between the growth mindset and fixed mindset tracks closely along cultural lines: students of Western cultures believe that struggle indicates they are less capable, while those of Eastern cultures believe the opposite, embracing struggle as a positive event.

There are no scientific studies that indicate grit can be taught.  But, because it is the key to embracing hard work and failure, and learning over the long-term, presenters Niedringhaus and Broering-Jacobs, in the highlight of their discussion, turned it over to the attendees to share anecdotes of teaching grit.  These fell within such categories as staging an interrupting event or a complication in the research strategy, and allowing searches that lead nowhere or to an unclear answer. But, a couple of anecdotes hit upon truly unique ways of teaching grit.  One professor brought bow ties to class and taught grit by showing students how to tie a bow tie.  Another professor recorded her efforts to answer a research problem devised by her students, capturing her frustration and failures, but also her determination and strategies for success as she worked through the problem.

Presenters Niedringhaus and Broering-Jacobs gave an amazing presentation that left the attendees with practical ways of instilling grit in their classroom instruction.  This made Building Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance While Teaching Legal Research one of the most talked about presentations from the 107th AALL Annual Meeting & Conference.

Cory M. Lenz
Research Instruction & Writing Process Librarian
Charlotte School of Law

AALL Webinar Review:  Advocacy Doesn’t End With a Phone Call:  Making the Most of Midterms

AALL provided a free advocacy webinar on Making the Most of Midterms: Opportunities for Advocacy at Home on August 27th. The webinar focused on many of the recommendations in the AALL Advocacy Toolkit but especially stressed the importance of connecting with legislators in-person prior to elections. We all know that our legislators are most responsive to us right before an election, when they want to lock in our vote. But many of us don’t know the best strategies for how to approach them. Though calling their office to make your views known is always a good idea, there are ways to make a more personal connection.

The webinar recommended maximizing face time with your legislators. Election years are the best time to ask your legislator directly for his or her support on an important issue as you can find him or her at town halls, coffee talks, or even just walking down the aisle at the supermarket. Never hesitate to grab your legislator’s ear anywhere that you see him or her! Additionally, inviting your legislator to take a tour of your library maximizes the impact of that in-person connection.

Just like any important presentation, it is important to practice what you plan to say to your legislator beforehand. Preparing an “elevator presentation” is especially crucial as their time is always very limited.  But don’t forget to follow up with your legislator after you’ve given your perfectly polished 2-minute pitch. Make sure you send their office more information about the important topics you discussed.

This coming session, AALL expects that legislation concerning surveillance/privacy and access to government information will be top priorities for law librarians. The USA FREEDOM Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-Collection and Online Monitoring Act) has already passed the House and stands a good chance in the Senate as it was sponsored in the House by the same representative who introduced the USA PATRIOT Act, following the September 11th attacks. The act would repair many of the security erosions caused by the Patriot Act and halt the over-reach of the NSA. Though popular, it still needs support from all legislators. The FOIA Improvement Act was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee this past summer. The act would eliminate many of the barriers to accessing government information, streamline the process, and increase overall government transparency. Because it is bipartisan legislation, it could potentially move through our clogged Congress quickly but only if our legislators understand how important it is.

To learn more tips, check out AALL’s Advocacy Toolkit. The webinar is also available as a free recording.

Sara V. Pic
Reference Librarian
Law Library of Louisiana

Proposed SLCGI Meeting Minutes

2014 SR-SIS Standing Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues

Embracing the Diversity of Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities
Business Meeting:  July 13, 2014  5:30 – 6:45


  1. Call to Order and Introductions

Lee Van Duzer called the meeting to order at 5:35. Everyone introduced themselves.

  1. Holoch Grant Recipients

This year, the SCLGI was able to give two Holoch grants in the amount of $550 to:

  • Sara Pic, Law Library of Louisiana
  • Kathleen Klepfer, Florida State University
  1. 2013 Minutes & Treasurer’s Report

Minutes from the 2013 SCLGI business meeting were approved with minor corrections.

The full treasurer’s report will be presented at the SR-SIS meeting. Highlights include:

  • An unofficial collection of funds to support Planned Parenthood of Texas netted $206 which was donated anonymously.
  • Last year’s reception netted approximately $900.
  • Thanks to generous sponsorship by vendors LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, and Bloomberg BNA, our budget for the reception was up slightly this year to $3000.
  1. Election of new vice-chair/chair-elect

Steven Alexandre de Costa (Ellis) was elected 2014-2015 SCLGI Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect by acclamation.

  1. Sexual Orientation and the Law Bibliography update

We got through the first quarter of updates. The project needs a bit more structure if we want it to continue. The consensus of those present was that it is a worthwhile project. Sarah Jaramillo and Meg Butler expressed interest is co-leading a restructuring of the project—perhaps using DropBox and changing the format/webhost.

  1. Programming

The SR-SIS sponsored program this year is Success in the City Council: Thoughts on a Successful Bid for Equality, Tuesday 10:15 am. All were encouraged to attend.

  1. SCLGI Archives

There is a box of materials in Pam Brannon’s office. We believe the contents have all been digitized. The SCLGI’s digital archives are currently stored on the Santa Clara servers and maintained by David Holt. We need to review the AALL archives retention policy for the Illinois facility. There was an informal consensus that physical materials meeting the retention criteria should be kept even after the content is digitized. Once they’ve been reviewed, the physical archives should be sent to the Illinois facility.

In order to avoid revisiting decisions made around the archives (particularly privacy and digitization issues), we should have a written policy. This should probably be developed by the SR-SIS as part of a policies and procedures handbook. A request for development of such a handbook will be passed on to SR-SIS leadership. In addition to policies and procedures on archives and privacy, the SCLGI would like to see policies and procedures on the Holoch grant, the SCLGI reception, and on subcommittee meeting minutes.

  1. Access to minutes from past meetings

SCLGI meeting minutes should be posted to the website and printed in the SR-SIS newsletter. They should be identified as “draft” minutes until approved at the next year’s business meeting or via online voting.

  1. Name inclusiveness – revisiting the question of changing our name.

It has been over a decade since the SCLGI polled its membership about changing the name of the standing committee to more inclusive language and the social climate has changed dramatically since that time. There was a consensus among the members present that it is time to revisit the issue.

A subcommittee will be convened to explore the issue. This may involve updating the list of current practices by other professional associations, another member poll, and any other steps that might be useful. Several volunteers were identified at the meeting and more will be recruited in the coming weeks to ensure a broad cross-section of our membership.

  1. 30th Anniversary of the SCLGI – 2015

Members were urged to think of ways to commemorate this milestone at the 2015 annual meeting. Please contact Jane Larrington (jlarrington@sandiego.edu) with ideas. We’ll reach out to (former) members involved in the 20th anniversary celebration.

  1. Other business

Advocacy. Appreciation to Sarah Jaramillo for her leadership in amending the AALL bylaws nondiscrimination clause to protect gender identity and for spurring the AALL executive board to send a letter supporting the inclusion of gender identity in the San Antonio nondiscrimination ordinance.

Newsletter. Members were urged to send reviews of annual meeting programs to Meg Butler for the SR-SIS fall newsletter.

Liaison with ALA’s GLBT group. New SCLGI member Sara Pic is also a member of the ALA’s GLBT group. She will look for opportunities for our groups to collaborate.

  1. Reception
    1. 8pm at Acenar, 146 E Houston St.
    2. Sponsors: Bloomberg BNA, LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters, and Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

Annual Report of the Standing Committee on Law Library Services to Prisoners

2014 AALL Annual Meeting
San Antonio, Texas
SR-SIS Standing Committee on Law Library Services to Prisoners
Business Meeting and Annual Report

Date:  July 15, 2014
Time:  7:30am – 8:15am

In Attendance:  Stacy Etheredge, Sara Gras, David McFadden, Kristen Moore, Patricia Morgan, Stefanie Perlman, Karen Schneiderman, Nick Stump

The past few months have been productive for the SR-SIS Standing Committee on Law Library Services to Prisoners.  A “call for involvement” was put out on the SR listserv asking for members who wanted to form a core group of active involvement.  This core group now includes 12 individuals, who will be seen as the go-to group for creation, discussion and implementation of projects.  Although bigger projects may involve requests for assistance from the larger SR membership, and anyone in SR is always welcome to join the committee at any time, having a small group of known, dedicated participants will greatly help in having the committee reach an ongoing level of activity.

The first order of business was a name change, formally approved by a vote from the SR-SIS membership, from the former “Law Library Services to Institutional Residents” to the present “Law Library Services to Prisoners”.  After discussion with many individuals, both within and without our SIS, the committee came to the conclusion that the former name was misleading and confusing.  It was felt that a name that better described our goals will garner the attention and interest of more people, not only within AALL but also, and especially, those in the outside world who are looking for information and assistance.

The committee then moved on to more critical housekeeping with a long overdue re-organization of our webpages.  After much thoughtful discussion, the webpages were streamlined and arranged in a manner that was felt by all to be much more intuitive, non-redundant and user friendly.  Although this remains a work-in-progress, as content will continue to be edited, revised, deleted and added, the new grouping of the webpages and its information puts the committee into a great place to move forward.  A tremendous thank you, as always, goes to our webmaster, David Holt, for managing all of this.

As far as major projects go, the committee felt that the first one to be tackled should be to update the Law Libraries Serving Prisoners database.  This database is a list of libraries across the country that handle requests from prisoners, generally fee-based document delivery, and is probably the capstone project of the committee, with perhaps the greatest potential of reaching the most people and doing the most good.  Several members of the committee split up the 75+ libraries on the list and are currently contacting them, in order to update their desire to remain on the list and the information given for their library’s services.  As we wrap up the updating of the current database we will begin to move into the next phase, which is to search for other libraries who would like to be on the list as well as finding innovative ways to promote the list to the public.

The committee is also poised to take on new projects, including updating and promoting our directory of sources for donating books to prison libraries (both law and regular), working on ideas on how law school libraries can partner with Innocence Projects and other clinics serving prisoners, updating and contributing to a bibliography of relevant scholarship, and developing a body of practical how-to information that will assist libraries that handle “jail mail”.  These and other ideas were discussed during a lively business meeting at the 2014 AALL Annual Meeting in San Antonio.

In conclusion, the SR-SIS Standing Committee on Law Library Services to Prisoners has entered a new phase of active work and will only grow in the future.

AALL Announcements


The AALL Executive Board Election is open—vote online through December 2.

AALL2go Pick of the Month:  Research Outcomes and Attorney Performance

Save the Dates for the AALL Management Institute: March 26-28The 2015 AALL Management Institute will be held at the Palomar Hotel in Chicago. The management institute will provide participants the opportunity to build management skills, collaborate with colleagues from different types of libraries, learn in a small group setting, and develop techniques to manage with confidence. More information will be available soon!