Greetings SR-SIS Members,
In case you haven’t noticed (because I just did), it’s June. Which means that we are closing in on this year’s AALL meeting. For me, that usually means I start thinking about all of the things that I set out to accomplish when I came back from last year’s meeting, full of ideas and the energy to back them up, and then guiltily move on to considering everything I haven’t gotten to yet.
Well, sometimes those thoughts can lead to a kind of depression where I just give up and say, “I guess it’s too late now to accomplish things”. But not this time! This time I am putting the emphasis on “ … I haven’t gotten to YET”. Because there is still time, in fact, loads of time, to do things. I just read through my notes from last year’s SR Business Meeting, and I remembered why I came away so enthusiastic. It was one of the best business meetings I had ever attended (in 10 years of attendance) – big turnout for such a small SIS, discussion going back and forth, ideas popping, people getting to know each other. There was an energy level in the room that was palpable. And that is why I love this SIS and the people in it so much. We do truly care about things and we do truly work hard to accomplish them.
So, I am putting out a Call to Order to all to shake ourselves out of our June Slumps, and get back to it (perhaps I am the only one who needs this pep talk? LOL).
First thing I will do, is let the standing committees speak for themselves in this newsletter – you will see just how much our small but mighty group HAS been doing (sometimes I forget that big projects take a while to complete, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t being worked on, and by a lot of dedicated members). You may be surprised at all the things that are going on.
Second thing I want you to do, is to use this newsletter (which, in and of itself, is a time-consuming project, for which we owe thanks to our intrepid editor, Meg Butler) to get inspired. If you want to help with one of the SIS’s subgroups, then contact the chair and join. If you have an idea for something that we should be thinking about or working on, then send it along to the Executive Board (Stefanie, Liza, CJ, and myself) or the committee chairs.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that this isn’t my SR-SIS, it’s your SR-SIS. It doesn’t matter if you can’t find the time at the Annual Meeting to attend the SR Business Meeting (getting harder and harder with each year). If you’re on the membership rolls it’s because you want to be, so we want to hear about anything you have to say. The efforts of this SIS will continue long after I’m gone, so there’s always time to get some more things going. And on that note, I’m going to start formulating my to-do list …
Reference and Instruction Librarian
University of Idaho College of Law (Boise Campus)
Chair, SR-SIS 2015-2016
Report from the Standing Committee Lesbian and Gay Issues….
2015 was the 30th Anniversary of the Standing Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues!
It would be insensitive to commemorate here this milestone without recognizing that the path traveled in that time period has been one of great professional— and for some of our members, personal—struggles on the long, difficult journey to civil rights’ equality. (Still today, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is legal in far more states in the USA than it is prohibited in.) Even with all that has been achieved, much remains to be done in the march to full equality. We acknowledge and sincerely appreciate all of our allies and friends who have joined us on this journey.
In keeping with the Committee’s efforts to address issues of injustice and discrimination, discussions are ongoing about ways that Association members, with their unique research and legal backgrounds, could support organizations and associations fighting the stigma and HIV-criminalization that continues to harm and ruin lives. If interested in assisting, please let us know.
We are also embarking on a possible name change to recognize the inclusive nature of our Committee. While this discussion is not an easy one for our members, it is one that we are undertaking with an understanding that the diversity of our membership is what makes us vibrant and unique. The SCLGI will be discussing this issue at our next business meeting in July and will be moving forward based on the outcome of those discussions. We welcome any and all input and would love to see you there on Sunday, July 17th at 5:15 PM in Hyatt-Skyway, Rm 265.
We are similarly working on a potential public-awareness campaign for the next AALL Annual Meeting in Chicago. This volunteer, ribbon-wearing campaign would raise awareness of gender-identity issues important to our members through self-identification of preferred pronouns for others to address us with. Stay-tuned for more on this and where to get your ribbon if you’d like to support this effort.
The Committee once again hosted a well-attended evening of fun conversation and catching up with friends and colleagues at our annual Alan Holoch Memorial fund raising event at AALL in Philadelphia. Our thanks to those who attended.
This year’s must-attend Reception will start at 8PM on Sunday, July 17th and is being held on the fabulous outdoor deck of 52 Eighty at the Mile North Hotel at 166 E. Superior St., Chicago, IL 60611 with views to die for and great drinks and food available. Make sure to mark your calendars and plan on joining for what is sure to be an unforgettable night!
We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!
Steven Alexandre da Costa
Senior Legal Information & Foreign and International Law Librarian
Lecturer in Law
Boston University School of Law
Chair, SCLGI 2015-2016
The Standing Committee on Law Library Services to Prisoners had an extremely productive Business Meeting at the 2015 AALL Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Even though attendees’ schedules are tight and we usually get inconvenient meeting times, attendance at this stalwart standing committee’s business meeting seems to grow every year.
Part of the meeting was devoted to discussing the accomplishments of the previous year, which included finishing up the flagship List of Law Libraries Serving Prisoners project, as well as the Law School Clinics and Programs Serving Prisoners project. Of course, projects like these never quite end and there will always be cleanup and updating to do. Another achievement for the year was the presentation at the Annual Meeting of the “Jail Mail Blues: How Law Libraries Support Access to Justice for Prisoners” program, developed by members Sara Gras and Stacy Etheredge and independently sponsored by the SR-SIS.
After that, discussion turned to projects that were of interest for the future. One project, updating a list of nationwide organizations that donate books to prisoners, is fairly small and actually should be completed very soon. However, two projects are mammoth and are going to require a lot of thought, planning, and work. One of these is to do the long overdue updating of the state sections of the “Recommended Collections for Prison Law Libraries”; the other is to develop and conduct a survey of prison and jail law libraries from across the country with the hope of getting some type of picture of the status quo. The good news about these projects, for interested SR members, is that there is plenty of work coming down the pike. If you are at all interested in volunteering for some of these, or you have other ideas of your own, please contact me. We look forward to hearing from you!
Reference and Instruction Librarian
University of Idaho College of Law (Boise Campus)
Chair, SR-SIS 2015-2016
At last year’s annual meeting in San Antonio, the Standing Committee on Disability Issues met for the first time. Since that meeting the committee has worked on several projects, mostly focusing on mental health issues. In the fall of last year, several members worked on a program proposal for the annual meeting in Philadelphia on mental health and the law library. The program was not accepted, but we hope to rework and resubmit the proposal for the next annual meeting and possibly regional conferences. Stemming from a poster session on mental health issues the San Antonio meeting, several members published an article in the AALL Spectrum on tips to improve services to patrons with mental illness.
Earlier in 2015 the Standing Committee was asked to co-sponsor a web-discussion with the Government Law Libraries SIS (fka SCCLL-SIS) and RIP-SIS entitled Five Topics in Five Days: Mental Health Issues in Law Libraries. Members helped moderate a lively discussion on mental health issues that affect law libraries. The discussion covered topics such as library rules and policies, maintaining mental health at work, security issues, and further resources that discuss mental health topics. You can contact Nick Harrell for a summary of the discussion.
The standing committee hopes to build upon the resources collected in that joint discussion and maintain a bibliography of useful disability issues related materials for librarians (e.g., accessibility issues, mental health issues). Please contact Nick Harrell (email@example.com) if you would like to contribute.
The standing committee was also happy to see disability issues appearing more in the law library literature. A.J. Blechner and Susan deMaine both had articles published on web accessibility standards in LRSQ and the Law Library Journal, respectively. We hope this trend will continue.
Looking forward the standing committee plans to continue collaborating with other groups in AALL, encouraging scholarship in this area, and to compile resources on disability issues useful to AALL members.
Student Services & Outreach Librarian
University of Colarado Law School
Chair, Standing Committee on Disability Issues 2015-2016
Resolution on Sustainability in Law Libraries Passes and Related news from the Task Force on Environmental Sustainability
Prepared by David Selden, for the SR-SIS Task Force on Environmental Sustainability
The SR-SIS Task Force on Environmental Sustainability has focused on two main topics:
The Task Force submitted a Resolution on Sustainability in Law Libraries Initiative which was adopted by AALL on September 16, 2015! There were 732 ballots returned, of which 88 percent of the vote said “yes.” The resolution (found on the AALL website) seeks to have AALL consider environmental sustainability in the areas of facilities, operations, policy, technology, programming and partnerships. Corporations, governments, individuals and other non-profit organizations such as the American Bar Association, American Library Association and Oregon Bar Association have made similar commitments.
As a result of this resolution and commitment, the SR-SIS is considering establishing a more permanent committee to replace the Task Force to work with AALL to lower negative environmental impacts. The proposed purpose of this committee is to assist AALL staff, Chapters and members fulfill the goals of the Resolution on Sustainability in Law Libraries. This assistance includes providing research, education, and guidance or best practices, for staff, chapters and members to be proactive in applying sustainable solutions to major sustainability concerns such as mitigating disruptive impacts of climate change.
The Task Force worked with AALL and Pam Reisinger, Director of Meetings to look for ways to incorporate sustainability measures into the Annual Meeting and Conference. The result of conversations of making annual meetings more sustainable was an agreement by AALL to provide a link to the SR-SIS Travel Offset Project webpage in the electronic confirmation of registering for the conference. This link directed attendees to the Offset Project donation page as well as to a summary of the travel offset project and tips members could follow in order to reduce their environmental impacts from their trip to/from the conference. Travel to/from the conference is by far the largest impact with the average trip resulting in about a ton of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gasses) emitted per traveler. While the ultimate goal of AALL incorporating a very small fee of a few dollars per registrant to cover offsetting the pollution caused by travel was not achieved for this conference, the Solar Heater Project voluntary offset project received 33 donations and raised over $1,300.00 to provide a solar heater to a family in need. (Total number of donations and total dollars raised was somewhat less than what was raised in previous years.) The lead person on this project was Task Force Chair, David Selden.
Members interested in environmental sustainability and possibly serving on the new committee, should contact David Selden. firstname.lastname@example.org
National Indian Law Library/Native American Rights Fund
SR-SIS Task Force on Environmental Sustainability, by David Selden
Transgender people come from all walks of life. Although the word “transgender” and our modern definition of it only came into use in the late 20th century, people who would fit under this definition have existed in every culture throughout recorded history. Though the myriad and everyday legal issues confronting transgender people have dominated the news recently, there is much about transgender people that is misunderstood by the non-transgender world.
“Transgender” is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the “transgender umbrella” may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms (possibly but not always including transgender) such as “genderqueer” or “nonbinary.” Many but not all transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to change their bodies. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon medical procedures.
Always use a transgender person’s chosen name, even if it is not their legal name. Many transgender people are able to obtain a legal name change from a court. However, some transgender people cannot afford a legal name change or are not old enough to change their name legally. They should be given the same respect for their chosen name as anyone else who lives by a name other than their birth name (such as celebrities).
Whenever possible, politely ask transgender people which pronoun they would like you to use. Don’t be afraid to ask – most people would prefer you respectfully ask rather than assume incorrectly. A person who identifies as a certain gender, whether or not that person has taken hormones or had some form of surgery, should be referred to using the pronouns appropriate for that gender. If it is not possible to ask a transgender person which pronoun is preferred, use the pronoun that is consistent with the person’s appearance and gender expression. For example, if a person wears a dress and uses the name Jane, feminine pronouns are usually appropriate.
Asking someone their preferred gender pronoun is not an open invitation to ask them about their gender transition journey, however. There are many great resources online from resources such as National Center for Transgender Equality or Human Rights Campaign that can answer many of the questions you may have.
Suggested list of terms to avoid (from the GLAAD Media Reference Guide)
Problematic: “transgenders,” “a transgender”
Preferred: transgender people, a transgender person
Transgender should be used as an adjective, not as a noun. Do not say, “Tony is a transgender,” or “The parade included many transgenders.” Instead say, “Tony is a transgender man,” or “The parade included many transgender people.”
The adjective transgender should never have an extraneous “-ed” tacked onto the end. An “-ed” suffix adds unnecessary length to the word and can cause tense confusion and grammatical errors. It also brings transgender into alignment with lesbian, gay, and bisexual. You would not say that Elton John is “gayed” or Ellen DeGeneres is “lesbianed,” therefore you would not say Chaz Bono is “transgendered.”
This is not a term commonly used by transgender people. This is a term used by anti-transgender activists to dehumanize transgender people and reduce who they are to “a condition.” Refer to being transgender instead, or refer to the transgender community. You can also refer to the movement for transgender equality.
Problematic: “sex change,” “pre-operative,” “post-operative”
Referring to a “sex-change operation,” or using terms such as “pre-operative” or “post-operative,” inaccurately suggests that one must have surgery in order to transition. Avoid overemphasizing surgery when discussing transgender people or the process of transition.
Problematic: “biologically male,” “biologically female,” “genetically male,” “genetically female,” “born a man,” “born a woman”
Preferred: assigned male at birth, assigned female at birth or designated male at birth, designated female at birth
Problematic phrases like those above are reductive and overly-simplify a very complex subject. As mentioned above, a person’s sex is determined by a number of factors – not simply genetics – and one’s biology does not “trump” one’s gender identity. Finally, people are born babies – they are not “born a man” or “born a woman.”
Sara V. Pic
Law Library of Louisiana
Who they serve: Prisoners in facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Asheville will mail requestors a package of books, a hand-written letter, and if requested they will also include a National Prisoner Resource List compiled by the Prison Book Program. The books they send out are educational, cultural, legal, and recreational in nature
How to request a book: Prisoners from the above states can mail in their requests for free books to Asheville Prison Books Program, 67 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville, NC 28801. If the prisoner’s institution requires prior approval, it should be included in the letter, along with any restrictions the institution may have. Asheville Prison Books Program will try to match specific book requests as closely as possible, but usually can’t fulfill requests for specific authors. Prisoners can make requests as often as they’d like. They are encouraged to include stamps with their requests if they can.
Donations: Asheville accepts donations of money for postage and books, especially dictionaries and legal aid materials. If they receive books that they cannot donate to prisoners, they sell them to local bookstores to generate cash for postage expenses.
Who they are: Asheville Prison Books Program was founded in 1999 and is run by volunteers who are “dedicated to offering men and women behind bars the opportunity for self-empowerment, education, and entertainment that reading provides.”
Who they serve: Focuses on prisoners in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
How to request a book: Requests should be mailed to Beehive Books Behind Bars, Weller Book Works, 607 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84102. No email requests, please.
Donations: Donate gently used paperback books and reference books, on topics such vocational education on plumbing, carpentry, welding, car and motorcycle maintenance, construction, etc. No outdated non-fiction books, please.
Who they are: A 100% non-profit organization that believes that “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.”
Who they serve: Prisoners across the United States. Their most popularly-requested items are dictionaries, thesauruses, African American fiction and history, Native American studies, legal materials, and foreign language materials, especially Spanish.
How to request a book: Prisoners should mail a letter including his or her name, prison ID number, and address to Books to Prisoners, c/o Left Bank Books, 92 Pike St., Box A, Seattle, WA 98101. Books to Prisoners will mail 1-2 pounds of books to each requestor. Requests can only be made every 9 months.
Donations: As of this writing, Books to Prisoners is at capacity and cannot accept any donated books. The strongly encourage you to make a financial donation instead. More than 70% of their budget goes to operating costs such as postage expenses.
Who they are: Books to Prisoners includes four different organizations located in the Pacific Northwest. In 2015 the City of Seattle recognized Books to Prisoners as a Human Rights Leader.
Who they serve: CBWP distributes paperback books to women in state prisons in nine states and federal prisons nationwide. They send packages of three books each directly to incarcerated women upon request, and also furnish books to prison libraries.
How to request a book: Loved ones can email book requests for prisoners to email@example.com. Be sure to include the name of the institution where the prisoner is incarceratef.
Donations: Chicago Books to Women in Prison keeps an updated list on their website of special requests for particular titles so donators can help them get a particular title into someone’s hands. They are always in need of the most popular items such as dictionaries, and also collect fiction by African American writers, true crime, books on pregnancy, parenting, Spanish language books, human trafficking survivor memoirs, books on exercise that doesn’t require equipment, crafts, Bible dictionaries and Bibles, coloring books for children and adults, transgender fiction and non-fiction, abuse issues, diet and nutrition, cookbooks, Wicca, and lighweight blank journals. No spiral-bound books or DVD’s/CD’s. You can also donate from their Amazon Wish List.
Who they are: CBWP, along with Women’s Prison Book Project in Minneapolis, is one of only two prison book organizations in the country that focus solely on women. Says Vicki White of CBWP, “About two-thirds of women in prison are mothers of minor children, so we have little doubt that we’re helping improve the lives of their families and their communities as well.”
Who they serve: DC Books to Prisons Project distributes books to prisoners in over 600 prisons across the United States, and also develops and supports local prison libraries.
How to request a book: All requests must be sent by mail to DC Books to Prisons, PO Box 34190, Washington, DC, 20043-4190.
Donations: Due to limited space, DC Books to Prisons restricts book donations to one box of books per donator at a time. Areas in which they are seeking donations, in addition to dictionaries and other commonly requested items, include books on science, farming and agriculture, American Sign Language instruction, chess and role-playing games, blank composition books, westerns, and graphic novels. They also occasionally receive special requests in hard-to-fill areas such as business and trade (welding, truck-driving, etc.) and religion, including books on Judaism, Jewish texts, and books on learning Hebrew. Remember to remove any personal information from books, and check them for personal items such as photos and letters.
Who they are: DC Books to Prisons is part of the Washington Peace Center.
Who they serve: Prisoners in Texas.
How to request a book: Inmates can mail requests to Inside Books Project, c/o 12th Street Books, 827 W. 12th St., Austin, TX 78701.
Donations: Using local bookstores as drop-off locations, Inside Books Project collects books on topics such as LGBTQ, African American studies, trade books, writing and grammar resources, and dictionaries. 80% of financial donations they receive go toward postage.
Who they are: Inside Books Project mails out over 35,000 books to over 18,000 prisoners each year.
Who they serve: LGBTQ-identified prisoners across the United States.
How to request a book: For more information on how to request a book, email LGBT Books to Prisoners at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations: While LGBT Books to Prisoners primarily needs financial donations, you can also send them books from their Amazon Wish Lists, or send them books in the following categories: LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction, dictionaries and almanacs, books on drawing and art, Spanish language books, etc.
Who they are: Volunteers at LGBT Books to Prisoners want LGBTQ people behind bars “to know that they have a supportive community on the outside that cares about their well-being.”
Who they serve: In order to decrease the delay between receiving a letter and sending out books, Louisiana Books to Prisoners restricts their services to Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
How to request a book: Mail requests for books to Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners, 1631 Elysian Fields #117, New Orleans, LA, 70117. Include a letter with full name, identification number, address, and any known mailing restrictions. They can send one package every three months to any single person. Requestors may request a particular genre, however, Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners is “diverse but small,” and often cannot fulfill specific requests.
Donations: Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners offers several financial contribution package options. Donations allow them to purchase much-needed resources such as dictionaries, GED study guides, and blank journals.
Who they are: The goals of Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners are to encourage literacy, make prison life more endurable, and support prisoner interests to the best of their ability.
Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project
Who they serve: People in prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities in Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennesseee, and Wisconsin.
How to request a book: Requestors should mail a letter to The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project, c/o Boxcar Books and Community Center, Inc., 408 E. 6th St., Bloomington, IN, 47408. The letter should include the recipient’s name, DOC#, facility name, mailing address, any restrictions on what kind of books the facility allows (e.g. no hardcover books), and the kinds of books being requested. Midwest Pages to Prisoners will send 2-3 books per requestor once every two months. They’ll do their best to match exact titles requested, but better luck might be had requesting an author or genre.
Donations: Please do not send romance novels, old text books, books geared primarily towards young female audiences (most of the requests come from men), or books for young children. Midwest Pages to Prisoners always needs more fiction, particularly with African American characters, books on life skills and entrepreneurship, civil rights and criminal law books, and GED test prep materials. Donators are encouraged to send financial contributions as well as postal and packaging supplies. If local college students have a print quota they do not need to use, they can help print out copies of form letters such as the National Prisoner Resource List and “We the People” legal primer (see website for links.)
Who they are: The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project is an all-volunteer effort that exists because “prisoners are not strangers: they are brothers, sisters, friends, cousins, mothers, and children.”
Who they serve: NYC Books Through Bars fills requests by mail from prisoners in all states except Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin. They place a priority on filling requests from prisoners in New York.
How to request a book: NYC Books Through Bars only takes requests through mail, not through email. Prisoners seeking books should mail their requests to NYC Books Through Bars, c/o Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen St., New York, NY 10002.
Donations: NYC Books Through Bars accepts donations of money for postage, stamps, post office supplies, and of course books (paperbacks only.) The topics they strongly prefer include histories of African Americans, Native Americans, and Latin Americans, as well as Mayan and Aztec histories, how-to books on topics such as drawing, origami, chess, knitting, sign language, etc., memoirs and fiction by people of color, mythology, dictionaries, language studies, sudoko and puzzle books, guides to starting a business, and yoga and pilate guides. No hardcovers, encyclopedias, religious texts including Bibles, magazines, white supremacist literature, books advocating racial animosity, sexism, or homophobia, computer books, or heavily worn or marked up books.
Who they are: NYC Books Through Bars is made up of a group of activists, librarians and archivists, editors, students, teachers, authors and other book lovers who are “startled and angered by how difficult it is for prisoners to access decent educational reading material.”
Who they serve: Prison Book Program fills requests by mail from prisoners in all states except California, Texas, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Texas, and except from a list of specific prisons that prohibit the service due to various restrictions (see website for list.)
How to request a book: Prisoners or loved ones can mail their requests to Prison Book Program – Website Request, c/o Lucy Parsons Bookstore, 1306 Hancock St., Ste. 100, Quincy, MA 02169. They do not accept email or phone requests. They have a selection form available on their website that can be filled out and mailed in. Only two requests per year, per prisoner, will be honored. All requests for legal material will be filled with a copy of their “We the People” legal primer. Upon request they will also mail out a copy of the National Prisoner Resource List, which provides information on advocacy and support, health care, and outlets for creativity.
Donation: Prison Book Program accepts donations of money, postal and office supplies, and books. To maximize postage resources, they strongly encourage donors to donate books to organizations that are closest to them georgraphically or closest to a local prison or jail. Books must be paperbacks and in good condition. No “chick-lit” or romances, out of date non-fiction, encyclopedias, or test prep books. Advanced reading copies are okay, as is fiction, non-fiction, books on spirituality and religion, Bible concordances and dictionaries, books by or about Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack Obama. See website for a detailed list. Dictionaries are the most commonly and highly sought after item.
Who they are: PBP was organized by the Red Book Store Collective in 1972. They have published the National Prisoner Resource List since 1988, and also distributes a Legal Primer, a compilation of legal information compiled by a former prisoner and PBP customer. Their aim to help prisoners prepare for the GED exam fueled their desire to expand their book topic offerings. PBP believes that “books are crucial to the political, spiritual, and educational development of all people.”
Serving LGBTQ Students, Clients, Attorneys, and Patrons (which are all of the above), by Kat Klepfer
The ABA recently made waves when it proposed adding a prohibition against a number of workplace biases as part of its ethical rules. I got to talking with Joyce Manna Janto, who teaches Professional Responsibility on top of her duties as Deputy Director of the law library, about the challenges attorneys face in researching the ever-changing laws that impact sexuality and gender—and how that relates to maintaining competence and upholding the other rules of professional conduct. Research skills go hand-in-hand with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Keeping up with the political and legal sea changes that impact the LGBTQ community is difficult and there are still many places where the law conflicts: employment, education, privacy, marriage, divorce, adoption, medical care, and wills all come into opposition as federal laws extend protections and states push back with discriminatory legislation.
It was easier than I expected to tie the Rules to current legal issues facing the LGBTQ community. Rule 1.1 requires competence and strong legal research skills can come to the rescue in keeping up with legislation. Rule 1.4 (Communication) can provide a teachable moment as well, instructing attorneys—especially ones not used to interacting with LGBT clients—on how to politely ask about the use of proper pronouns or amending intake forms to be more inclusive. The combination of competence and communication will arm an attorney who must advise and prepare clients for the possible outcomes of their actions. For example, although FMLA is available to any applicant, many states still allow employers to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation. A client could apply for FMLA to care for a spouse, only to find that the employer disapproves of same-sex relationships and dismisses the employee. Rules 1.2 (Scope of Representation) and 2.1 (Advisor) also come into play often when a client wants to take an action—perhaps transitioning gender at work or coming out to an employer—that will have significant “moral, economic, social and political factors that may be relevant to the client’s situation.” Professional responsibility is always a good touchstone for reinforcing the need for librarians to spend a significant amount of time stressing current awareness sources and tracking relevant legislation.
It is our job to connect our patrons to the resources they need to succeed, which isn’t always an electronic copy of a journal article. Sometimes, it’s a link to the LGBT Bar Association to keep up with current cases. Other times, it’s a student or alum who wants to know about LGBTQ-friendly law firms or the current NALP data on LGBT attorneys. Or, it just may be a matter of visibility, making a research guide that discusses sexual orientation and the law.
Reference & Research Services Librarian
University of Richmond School of Law
Photo courtesy of Bernie’s Book Bank
Get Fired Up About Reading!
There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!
Support the 2016 American Association of Law Libraries Children’s Book Drive – Get fired up about reading! This year’s drive benefits Bernie’s Book Bank, an organization that distributes children’s books to at-risk infants, toddlers and grade school children throughout Chicagoland. Bernie’s Book Bank aims to give little children a leg up by pouring quality children’s books into at-risk homes that have been identified through schools and social service organizations, ensuring that children have access to books from infancy through grade school age, and that they start school “reading ready.” Bernie’s Book Bank sorts the books, ranging in reading level from infant to 6th grade, into bundles of 6 different age-appropriate books for each child, and delivers them directly into the hands of low-income children. Each child they serve receives a minimum of 12 books per year from Bernie’s, theirs to keep at home forever.
How can you help Bernie’s Book Bank provide books to children in need?
- Order a book online from the Amazon wishlist (or search for “AALL 2016” on Amazon under “Lists > Find a List or Registry.”)
- Drop off books for infants, toddlers, and grade school children, online bookstore gift cards, checks, or cash in Chicago at the Member Services booth in the Exhibit Hall. (Please no text books, workbooks, coloring books, reference material, or adult or young adult books.)
- Drop off physical books only for infants, toddlers, and grade school children to the Book Drive drop-off box in Chicago at the Registration area near the Hospitality Booth. (Please no text books, workbooks, coloring books, reference material, or adult or young adult books.
- Send checks, payable to American Association of Law Libraries, or online bookstore gift cards to the Annual Book Drive Chair:
Megan Von Behren
Senior Research Services Manager
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
One New York Plaza
New York, NY 10004
For more information regarding the book drive, please contact Megan Von Behren, email@example.com. For information about the history of the annual book drive, see our article in Spectrum! And there’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!
The SR-SIS will be collecting soaps and toiletries again this year. Please plan on bringing any donations of unused soaps, shampoos, lotions, conditioner, etc., to the Activities Area Display Boards
Proposed SR-SIS Business Meeting Minutes, 7/20/2015
- Financial updates: Raised $795 last night for the Holoch Grant. Was at $570 last year. Started spending $99/year on internet domain.
- CJ asked if we thought strongly that we must sponsor every year: Someone asked about historical numbers. If a lot of people attend, it should be worthwhile. DC had around 150 people. Could sponsor a competitive program about LGBT matters given the historical changes this year. And in general we could only pay for our spot when we don’t think it’s a winner. If members co-sponsor LGBT program and it’s accepted, we pay nothing If SR-SIS sponsors, we pay. Financials and a declining membership were discussed. It could be prudent to take one year off of programing for financial reasons, but still propose speakers through the regular process However, pulling a sponsored program next year could decrease visibility in broader organization and lead to a further decline in membership. Maybe money could be saved by getting a presenter who doesn’t need AV. Should check with Pam Reisinger about whether that’s possible. Maybe could slice some of AV and get presenter who doesn’t care.
- Further discussion on type of programming: The possibility of a member-submitted program on same-sex marriage was discussed, as well as a round table for coming year. Meg said that we could always plan a roundtable if we don’t have a program to ensure we have a presence. A roundtable is guaranteed if a program isn’t picked up. We could also always sponsor someone to speak as a VIP. But we can’t partner anymore. Jane said that if we’re not formally proposing, we could have a program committee instead of just Vice-Chairs. We could coordinate with chairs of each standing committee and work individually proposing something for Chicago, Stefanie said.
- Jane reported on the Holoch Memorial Grant/Lesbian & Gay Standing Committee: A committee of three unanimously gave the award to Scott Bird. Last night’s reception last night was $795. A member added $10 at the meeting. There was a discussion of assembling a history of the standing committee. There’s not a lot from the 90s to 2000s. Ron Wheeler wants to do big diversity initiative. Smokin Betty’s was hot and some people left early. Maybe someone should ask about a refund.
- Election report: Stefanie won for Chair-Elect.
- Book drive report by Stacy Etheredge: Over 350 books have been bought so far on Amazon. Being donated in person at exhibit hall and registration desk. Checks/cash at exhibit hall. About $3000.
- John Cannon has gotten some checks too, the coordinator in Philly.
- Have a volunteer for next year. Meghan.
- CONELL report by Stacy Etheredge: She thought it was less crowded than usual and that registration was probably down, but that attendees were impressed. Registration was probably down. A lot of employers not paying for lots of SR-SIS memberships, Jane pointed out. More people have to choose to spend money.
- Standing on Law Library Services to Prisoners by Stacy Etheredge: It has been dormant for a couple of years, but they’re putting some momentum in it. David Holt is the webmaster. There’s an aggregation list of law libraries across country that answer prisoner mail, about 80 altogether. It also lists clinics.
- Standing Committee on Disability Issues Report by CJ Pipins: They proposed a program that wasn’t accepted and want to turn it into roundtable. They’re currently working on a bibliography project for disability issues. They cohosted a web discussion with government librarians and RIPS that should be archived.
- Report on newsletter by Meg Butler: Does anyone else want to be editor? No. Does anyone have anything they want to write for Fall? Out by Equinox, 9/21. Someone on the environmental task force said yes. Butler hadn’t included news from members. No one submitted anything. Anyone who wants to be social director? Bill Ketchner said yes. Book reviews on social justice issues? Yes, people like that idea.
- David Holt on Report on Website: The CMS is working now. If anyone has photos of events, they send them can send them.
- CJ Pippins’ Report on SIS Council Meeting: Maryruth Storer (?) new chair
- Report on Archives by CJ: Sarah Jaramillo has scanned all items from the archive materials. Should box be mailed to AALL in Illinois? Yes. Agreed. David Holt said there’s also a photo album with Pam. A box of stuff, probably scanned and already posted. Are there any privacy issues for photos? Historically, this was a very protective group. The archive could be closed, with LGBT items behind a wall for X number of years. This could be a good reason to keep two collections separate.
- Report on Collection of hotel soaps, shampoos, lotions by Meg Butler: The box is being collected for abuse shelter. Could we pay taxi for person with hotel soaps, etc.? No, it should be left with a local person. The expense of a taxi wouldn’t be justified.
- Report on Task Force on Environmental Sustainability by Taryn Rucinski: This first year of the environmental task force was awesome. There were two main projects: an offset program and an AALL resolution on sustainability. They worked with the Environmental Libraries and Animal Law Caucus. The resolution was discussed at the business meeting and was approved. It doesn’t force an environmental result, but encourages resiliency/sustainability concerns. They’re going through AALLNET for general approval and need approx.. 2/3 to say yes. Maybe they should lobby a bit or at least be prepared for a backlash and be ready to respond. The offset project is to offset travel: whatever harm you may have caused on your way here, you could make a donation to offset. There were 33 donations, totaling $1300. This will be used to provide a solar heater to a family in need. This effort was largely headed by David Selden.
- Access to justice initiatives report by CJ Pipins: Was SR going to take any initiatives, an email asks? This was in response to an Access to Justice White paper and associated task force. It seems LISP will spearhead that, said Stefanie. LISP still considering name change
- Report by Stacy on the Book Drive: Usually a donation is made on behalf of the SR-SIS. A motion to make donation to make cash donations to make sure donnee receives in total $1200 cash is seconded. An amendment to make it $1000 is offered. No, staying to $1200. It passed, with 7 in favor and two against.
- New Business: Meg Butler inquired: would the SR like to have subcommittee to write letter a from SR to AALL board complaining about how the members open forum today was 4 only minutes and about how there is a general lack of transparency? In the past, there was nothing scheduled at same time, but this time there was. Discussion ensued.
- More new business from Steven: He proposed a project to support HIV decriminalization because many states still criminalize the transmission of HIV and need to be reformed. This is an ongoing issue and there were some major cases this year; Steven was inspired by a particular case in Missouri. This issue intersects with prisoners, immigrants, people of color, gay men. Steven wanted to put together ideas to find out who’s interested. More broadly, he was interested in people who would be interested in doing various things for issue, like some action by a standing committee or a larger committee desired. In terms of proposing a resolution at this meeting, he doesn’t yet know how to propose anything in a parliamentary way. Stefanie expressed concern about victims of rape and enhanced punishments for rape. David Holt wanted to be on committee. Meg moved for CJ to appoint members of committee.
- Other new business: Why should people pay $20 for to be members of SR-SIS? Maybe we could have brochure. If just one person could be an SR contact, we could increase dues. Also, perhaps we should have some letters or other testimonials to share on social media.
Movement to adjourn. Seconded. Meeting adjourned.
Legal Research Librarian
Suffolk Law School
SR-SIS Secretary-Treasurer 2015-2016
2015 SR-SIS Standing Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues
Business Meeting: July 19, 5:15 to 6:45
- Call to Order and Introductions: CJ Pipins called the meeting to order and everyone introduced themselves. Steve de la Costa is the incoming chair.
- Holoch Grant Recipient: This year a grant was awarded to Scott Bird.
- 2014 Minutes were approved.
- Election of new vice-chair/chair-elect: Sara Vic was nominated as Vice-Chair and all were in favor.
- Programming: Jail Mail Blues SR-SIS-sponsored program this year
- Move to make SR-SIS Standing Committee on Lesbian and Gay Issues More Inclusive update: This was supposed to get going last year with Jane Larrington, but delayed. Steve and Jane are committed to working on it this year. A discussion of requirements from by-laws for a change followed. Sara Pic and David Brian Holt also volunteered. Apparently, a similar discussion was contentious last time six years ago. There is a question of whether by analogy the NAACP should change its name—it’s historic. Jane’s idea of goal to be more inclusive of queer community (e.g., trans, bi).
- 30th anniversary of standing committee: SR-SIS is officially Group is officially 30 years old—started in 1985. Steve de la Costa thought it could be worthwhile to write about accomplishments over that period, or about becoming less controversial. There could be a discussion of the committee’s history and what’s been done. David Brian Holt thought it could be something on behalf of committee for AALL spectrum, with someone from first, second, and third decades offering perspective. Steve thought it could be a good time to remind people of this committee due to recent national news events. Jane thought there was good material on the early years from the website but that it drops off around 1995.
- 2016 Diversity Initiatives: Ron Wheeler approached CJ Pipins and Jane Larrington; he wants a big diversity initiative in his presidential year, though it’s still in brainstorming stages. There’s the thought LGBT people are sometimes overlooked in diversity conversations. The idea of a “Best Practices” guide was considered. A possible program was also discussed. There was a discussion about same-sex marriage laws and privacy rights. There was also a discussion about federal loan money and Tile VII and Title IX. Research into legal issues could be helpful. There was concern that we aren’t making money and that a program costs money. The idea was floated that we could skip programming for one year. We could, though, also get selected through a competitive process this year given the relevancy of such research.
- Criminalization of HIV: Steve de la Costa read a news article this summer about a Missouri man Michael Johnson, sentenced to 30 years for infecting partner. Steve found that organizations protesting such laws underfunded and that they don’t get attention due to medical advances on this issue that they once did. Davic Holt thought the broader SR should address this issue—we could maybe write a letter to the Missouri legislator. Sara Vic thought it should go to higher SR-SIS because it’s beyond gay and lesbian concern. Prosecutions are mostly African American men. Everyone agreed it was an important issue that should be addressed higher up.
- Update on bibliography: Stephanie made mockup of new design, spent money to save URL, some work stalled out in January. Stephanie still wants to be involved says Sara.
- No other new business
- Reception: Sunday, July 9th, 8:00 to 11: PM Smokin’ Betty’s, 116 S. 11th St.
Legal Research Librarian
Suffolk Law School
SR-SIS Secretary-Treasurer 2015-2016
 Martha Neil,
Proposed Revision of ABA Model Ethics Rule to Ban Broad Range of Discrimination Sparks Controversy, ABAJournal.com (May 5, 2016),
 This turned into a CLE we taught for the Virginia Equality Bar in March:
Equality Under the Law, VaEqualityBar.org,
 Model Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 2.1 (Am. Bar Ass’n 2016).
 Good places to get LGBTQ legal updates include Lambda Legal’s “In Your State” tool, LambdaLegal.org,
LGBT rights, ACLU.org,
https://www.aclu.org/issues/lgbt-rights#latest; or find your state’s Equality Federation chapter,
Best Law Firms for Diversity, Vault.com,
 Such as the Library of Congress’s lovely blog post/research guide on the topic: Barbara Bavis,
The Law of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation: A Beginner’s Guide, Blogs.Loc.gov (June 9, 2015),
http://blogs.loc.gov/law/2015/06/law-of-gender-identity-and-sexual-orientation-a-beginners-guide/. President Obama declared June 2016 LGBT Pride Month as this article was being written: Presidential Proclamation–LGBT Pride Month 2016 (May 31, 2016),