ALL-SIS Student Services Committee Roundtable

The ALL-SIS Student Services Committee hosted a Roundtable on June 17, 2021. The Roundtable focused on a few central topics, including (i) remote-work changes from the past year that you would like to retain, (ii) re-engaging with students after a year where many may not have visited or used the library, (iii) promoting wellness among your students, and (iv) ideas to support minority students and student affinity groups. Thank you to everyone who attended. The discussions produced many wonderful insights and ideas, too many to list in this post. If you were unable to attend the Roundtable or would otherwise like to review the ideas and suggestions, you can find a summary of the various discussions below.

Student Services Committee Town Hall Discussion Wrap-Up

On Monday, November 9, 2020, the ALL-SIS Student Services Committee hosted a virtual town hall discussion about student outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many academic law libraries have been facing similar challenges reaching students during COVID-19, and this town hall discussion was designed to help librarians overcome some of those challenges.

Geraldine Kalim, Edna Lewis, and Kimberly Mattioli led a robust discussion covering the following broad topics: (i) different student activities or engagement, whether virtual or socially distanced, (ii) various communication methods, (iii) the use of library space, and (iv) COVID-related changes that are worth keeping.

Dozens of ALL-SIS members attended this hourlong discussion, sharing many wonderful ideas and offering encouragement. Some of the ideas include trivia sessions, pet-related outreach like “show and tail,” partnering with other departments or offices, and stressbuster guides.

For those who were unable to attend or who otherwise want to review the discussion, the town hall was recorded. If you are an ALL-SIS member and would like to receive a link to the videorecording and/or a text file of the chat messages, please contact Edna Lewis at elewis@law.berkeley.edu.

“Sneak Preview” AALL 2020 Review: Frameworks, Stories, and Engaging Examples: How Newer (and Experienced) Librarians Can Find Their Authentic Voice When Teaching

Here’s one last short review of AALL2020 programming from the ALL-SIS Newsletter, this one by Matthew Flyntz, Research Law Librarian for Instructional Services at UC Irvine’s Law Library. Session recordings are available to conference registrants, and will be available to all members in 2021. A full version of this review will appear in the fall issue of the Newsletter in September.

Frameworks, Stories, and Engaging Examples: How Newer (and Experienced) Librarians Can Find Their Authentic Voice When Teaching 

This pre-recorded session was presented by Peter Hook, Yasmeen Bakht, and Paul Callister. They began by discussing frameworks – also known as schema or constructs – which are what allow us to make sense of the world, or, perhaps, the legal research process. They gave an example of an image showing a series of dots. I had no idea what the image represented. They then connected some of those dots to reveal that they represented constellations, and when those connecting lines were taken away, I couldn’t unsee the constellations, because I now had the framework in my brain. They argue that teaching legal research is similar in that we as the experts have frameworks in our brains, but our students don’t. It is important that we communicate those frameworks in addition to the larger course content.

They also presented a series of best practices for teaching, including ensuring you have excellent content, motivating learners with context, using evidence-based pedagogies, sharing your organizing frameworks or schema, using vivid and memorable examples, using active learning techniques, and using spaced learning and repetition (including using multiple smaller assessments rather than one large cumulative assessment).

Next, they discussed building trust and authority in the classroom. They stressed that instructors should recognize that they are the expert, and to demonstrate that expertise. They said that instructors should try to connect with their audience by being their authentic selves – don’t try to joke around if you aren’t a jokester, and don’t try to act “buttoned-up” if that isn’t your personality. Instructors should also share their experiences to build an authentic bond with their audience.

They concluded by sharing some examples they have each used to put these practices into effect in both classroom and law firm settings. While there was a bit too much theoretical and philosophical background regarding frameworks and constructivism for my taste, I do think this session would be useful for those who teach legal research. There were some good reminders of best practices, and good suggestions for ways of connecting with our students, especially in this new virtual environment.

“Sneak Preview” AALL 2020 Review: Helping Without Hurting: Toward a Trauma-Informed Model for Law Library Service

This installment of ALL-SIS Newsletter’s short reviews of AALL2020 conference programs is contributed by I-Wei Wang, UC Berkeley School of Law Library. Session recordings are still available to conference registrants, and will be available to all members in 2021. A full review will appear in the fall issue of the Newsletter.

Helping Without Hurting: Toward a Trauma-Informed Model for Law Library Service

This program tells an inspiring story that could start with the tagline “a social worker walks into a library.” The speakers – a county law librarian, a social worker, and a director of a public library – described a grant-funded program to embed social work students with librarians to offer both patron services and staff training and support in trauma-informed (TI) services. This collaboration and training enabled librarians to be more responsive and sensitive to the needs of library patrons and the broader community.

As an academic law librarian serving a broad community of student, faculty, attorney, and layperson patrons, I hoped this session would provide leads for bringing concepts and resources for TI practices to my institution. Moreover, as I contemplate the society-wide trauma all of us are undergoing – and look ahead to re-opening our libraries  recovering from pandemic mode, and reconnecting with colleagues and patrons – I was hoping for ideas for services to address those transitions. 

Sadly, the main thing I concluded from this session was that the type of fully-formed program – offering social service referrals and in-depth training and support for library staff – is probably not a realistic option for my organization, despite the availability of a graduate social work program on our campus. Not only do we lack budget and resources, but the need is probably much greater – and services might be better utilized – at other libraries and service points in our community. The speakers did offer some advice for those without a grant or other resources to support a TI libraries program, including pointing out the Whole Person Librarianship website as a “Hub for Library-Social Work Collaboration.” Overall, for this listener, the session offered an aspirational model, and insight about how TI services can work in library settings.

“Sneak Preview” AALL 2020 Review: Searching in All 50 State Court Dockets: Will It Ever Be a Reality?

Here’s another short review of AALL2020 conference programs, by Sarah Gotschall, Reference Librarian and Professor of Practice at the University of Arizona College of Law. All session recordings are available to conference registrants, and will be offered to all members in 2021. The full review will appear in the fall issue of the Newsletter.

Searching in All 50 State Court Dockets: Will It Ever Be a Reality?

Considering the current state of state court docket searching, this is truly daring to dream! Like many a law librarian, I occasionally darken the door of a county trial court website to attempt to locate a case docket and retrieve the docket filings. Although most sites appear to be designed by 10-year olds, it is usually possible to use the rudimentary search features to locate a case docket – though generally I’ve had no such luck accessing filings. Did this presentation title suggest that we are on the precipice of a dramatic improvement in state docket accessibility and searching? I had to know more!

This informative presentation features two moderators asking representatives from four companies in the docket biz – Trellis Legal Intelligence, LexisNexis, Bloomberg Law, and re:Search – a series of questions about … well, mainly, about how difficult it is to be in the docket collection business. The panel explained how they go about working with courts to collect docket data, their collection methods, the challenges they face, the costs involved, why some jurisdictions are so difficult to deal with, and their future plans for jurisdictional expansion and platform feature enhancement. There were many tales of woe about working with recalcitrant, technologically backward, and (sometimes) secretive courts, which take an infinite variety of approaches to storing/hosting their data (including Ye Olde Box of Paper method), as well as a litany of technological difficulties the companies encounter with collecting and processing the data.  

The last, eponymous question for the panel was, of course, whether 50 state court docket searching will ever be a reality. Since the presentation is well worth watching, I won’t give the entire dramatic conclusion away, but … [SPOILER ALERT!] One youngish presenter was heard to sadly opine, “Maybe in my kids’ lifetimes they will come visit my grave and say ‘we did it!’” Then he mumbled something about his grandchildren.

“Sneak Preview” AALL 2020 Review: Bring Your Own Device: No Longer an Option

This installment of ALL-SIS Newsletter’s short reviews of AALL2020 conference programs is by Sarah Gotschall, Reference Librarian and Professor of Practice at the University of Arizona College of Law. The session recording is available now for conference registrants, and will be available to all members in 2021. The full review will appear in the fall issue of the Newsletter.

Bring Your Own Device: No Longer an Option

I was drawn to this presentation by my dual interpretations of the meaning of “No Longer an Option.” Did it mean that law schools and firms are cracking down on the use of personal devices? Or did it mean that supporting BYODs is no longer optional? The two speakers, one from a law firm and one from a law school, cleared the confusion up quickly, asserting that supporting BYODs in this working-from-home Coronavirus era is essential for most organizations.

Both speakers were in similar positions when the Coronavirus closure happened. Most of the attorneys at the firm and the faculty at the law school had already been issued laptops that they could take home, so working from home was a relatively seamless transition for them. However, most of the staff members had not been issued laptops, so they took two approaches to equipping them to work from home – scrounging around the office for unused computers and supporting employees in the use of their personal computer equipment. Also, both the firm and school librarians undertook new support and training roles. At the firm, they started supporting home Internet and router problems, as well as computer and office accessories. At the law school, they quickly ramped up to provide faculty and staff with training – lots of training. The staff received training in how to set up their computers and Internet at home to connect to the VPN, and how to use those new Coronavirus favorites Zoom and WebEx. For the faculty, they focused on remote teaching through Blackboard, Zoom, and other educational software.

The presentation was quite interesting, and I was happy they made it to the other side (though I am sure they are still quite busy). What they described was really like taking all the problems and irritations we each individually had setting up our home offices and multiplying them by…500? 1000?

“Sneak Preview” AALL 2020 Review: No JD? No Problem. Navigating Law Librarianship Without a Legal Education

This installment of ALL-SIS Newsletter’s short reviews of AALL2020 conference programs is by Rachel Evans, Metadata Services and Special Collections Librarian at the University of Georgia School of Law’s Alexander Campbell King Law Library. The session recording is available to conference registrants, and will be available to all members in 2021. The full review will appear in the fall issue of the Newsletter.

No JD? No Problem. Navigating Law Librarianship Without a Legal Education

I was the target audience for this session:  new to the profession (I didn’t start in a librarian position at UGA School of Law until 2018), without a JD, and managing “imposter syndrome” (of course who among us doesn’t tick that last box!). Although (as the speakers point out) it is becoming more common for law librarians not to have a JD, it is still more likely that they have one than not. In fact, I have yet to meet other law librarians in person who do not have a JD with the exception of my own position’s predecessor and one other colleague.

“No JD? No Problem” confirmed this observation, sharing that they too are in non-JD but no less professional librarian positions where certain skills and experience are very common. For example, tech-centric positions (technical services, electronic services, computing services, and systems) or other niche positions where non-law backgrounds are highly beneficial (such as archives, art, history, English, and public relations), seem to be the most likely job descriptions that do not require a JD. This combination of experience-based skills and specialized non-law backgrounds was a recurring theme throughout the panel of speakers.

According to the 2019 AALL Salary Survey, there are actually far more non-JD librarians in this profession than I would have expected! 43.2% held an MLS or MLIS and no JD. However, among academic law libraries like I am in, only 31% were JD-less, while 64.1% in firm or corporate law libraries were JD-less. 

Some other big takeaways for me were about overcoming initial learning curves when you enter a new position. This advice could apply to anyone who is a younger law librarian, someone changing careers, or just taking on a new role at a different institution. Several excellent examples were given about shadowing others and learning from individuals at other libraries to better understand your own role and gauge expectations. A panelist confesses her own fear of not knowing the subject matter as well as her patron or colleagues in the context of reference work, and advises a strategy: create a research guide — as much a tool for herself as for the audience. She says her experience is that just creating one helps her better educate herself on both the subject and the resources. 

One of the best parts about attending this session, although virtual, was the organic networking that took place during and after the stream. As with many other sessions from AALL2020, members in attendance were live-tweeting and sharing takeaways on social media. I look forward to continuing to explore and expand this circle of JD-less contacts.

“Sneak Preview” AALL 2020 Review: Official & Open: Government Edicts, Copyright, and Access

The ALL-SIS Newsletter’s latest capsule review from AALL2020 is by Benjamin Keele, Research & Instructional Services Librarian at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law’s Ruth Lilly Law Library. Full reviews will appear in the Newsletter this fall; program recordings are available now to conference registrants, and will be accessible to all members in 2021.

Official & Open: Government Edicts, Copyright, and Access

Kyle Courtney, Copyright Advisor at Harvard University, presents an interesting session on an important U.S. Supreme Court decision from the past year, Georgia v. PublicResource.org. The Georgia legislature contracted with Lexis to produce annotations for the official Georgia statutory code. The annotations were subject to the approval of the Code Revision Commission, a part of the legislature, and each year the legislature voted to approve the annotated code as the official code.

Georgia claimed copyright in the annotations and authorized Lexis to charge for access to the annotated code. PublicResource.org (and amici including AALL and a separate group of law librarians) argued that the government edicts doctrine should apply to official annotated codes because copyright should not prevent citizens from free access to binding laws. The Court, in a 5-4 vote, held that the annotated code could not be copyrighted, but for a different reason. It held that legislators (like the Code Revision Commission) and judges cannot be authors under the Copyright Act for their official writings.

Courtney’s presentation is thorough and brisk and will be worthwhile for any librarians interested in opening access to state legal materials.

“Sneak Preview” AALL 2020 Review: Mindful Middle Management: A Dialogue on Managing Up, Down, and Within

This installment of ALL-SIS Newsletter’s short reviews of AALL2020 conference programs is by Benjamin Keele, Research & Instructional Services Librarian at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law’s Ruth Lilly Law Library. The session recording is available now for conference registrants, and will be available to all members in 2021. The full review will appear in the fall issue of the Newsletter.

Mindful Middle Management: A Dialogue on Managing Up, Down, and Within

I initially thought this session would not be especially useful for me since I’m not in middle management. I watched it because I wanted to better understand concerns expressed by my supervisor’s peers. However, the lessons I learned from this session were most applicable to managing my own thinking and emotional reactions and thus how I relate to anyone I work with. The session title says middle management, but it would be valuable for virtually anyone.

The presenters based their comments on foundational concepts from mindfulness, such as being present in the moment, compassion, patience, non-attachment, and curiosity. As one who is trying to practice mindfulness and mediation more, these concepts were somewhat familiar from meditation sessions, but the concepts are useful, even if you are not mediating at the time.

This session reminded me that some of the assumed premises of lawyers and knowledge workers (optimize everything, everything is a competition, always be looking to the future) can become unhealthy and mindfulness can be a balm for my often-distracted, hectic mind.

 

 

 

“Sneak Preview” AALL 2020 Review: Copyright Issues in the Connected and Digital World

The ALL-SIS Newsletter’s “Copyright Explainer” columnist, Benjamin Keele (Research & Instructional Services Librarian at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law’s Ruth Lilly Law Library), offers this capsule review from AALL2020. His full review will appear in the Newsletter this fall; program recordings are available now to conference registrants, and will be accessible to all members in 2021.

Copyright Issues in the Connected and Digital World

This session focused on three very timely copyright issues: copyright over state statutes, authors reclaiming copyrights through reversion or termination, and handling copyrighted material in one’s social media.

The first portion of the session discussed the recent Supreme Court decision in Public.Resource.Org v. Georgia. A nonprofit had posted the official, annotated Georgia statutes, arguing legally binding government works could not be copyrighted. Georgia argued that the annotations, while part of the official code, were not binding and thus could be copyrighted. The Court held that the annotations were written by government actors. Government actors cannot be authors under the Copyright Act, so the Georgia annotated statutes could not be copyrighted.

The next portion focused on how an author that has transferred copyright in their works to publishers may reclaim those rights. One option is to check the publishing contract for provisions providing when rights may be reverted to the author after a book has gone out of print. The second option is in the Copyright Act and authorizes an author to terminate the copyright transfer within a specific time window. The presentation slides include several examples of rights reversion clauses from publishing contracts.

The final portion discussed how to avoid copyright problems in social media posts. The main point I took from this portion was that if material is publicly available, it still may not be usable in your social media. The presentation covers several excellent sources of images with permissive copyright licenses or that are already in the public domain.