[Ed. Note: I asked Katie Brown, Law Library Director of the University of Charlotte School of Law, and fellow geek, to write a review of last week’s NCCSLM meeting in Boston. Please welcome guest blogger Katie Brown. – GL]

Last week (12/2/16) I had the opportunity to attend the Boston University Law School/ AALL hosted –National Conference on Copyright of State Legal Materials. This topic has seen an uptick in interest in recent years, mostly among law librarians and on legal blogs, as state copyright issues have arisen and have greatly affects both patron access to material and publisher pricing. As a self –proclaimed “IP Junkie,” was looking forward to this all-day event to further explore these musings with an audience of folks whom I knew would be just as passionate about this copyright issue as I am, and I can tell you AALL an BU did not disappoint.

The daylong event covered a host of subtopics within the state copyright arena. The agenda boasted everything, from a copyright issue overview; to a panel addressing who owns the copyright in the work of the United States Government; to how we make the content easily available to people; to journalists limited access to legal materials changing what stories find their way to print; and finally several organizations discussing aspirational examples for expansive, accurate and open access to state legal materials. I think the experience of the full day was best stated by one attendee, who after the event, shared on social media that he was now suffering from, “Gov’t info Overload.”

It is important to note his use of the word “overload” instead of overwhelmed. For me, the positive overload of content was a direct result of the wide breadth of speakers, who spoke passionately throughout the day about how they have been touched and limited by the copyright status of and access to United States law. Another wonderful take away I gleaned from the day’s event was each speaker seemed to be striving for a positive way to improve access and discussing exploring ways that this original public domain content will easily be available to all in the future.

You can always gauge if the content from your event is hitting a nerve with the speakers, audience and experts outside the forum when it gets the folks on twitter typing away. The event hashtag #NCCSLM throughout the day was aflutter with zippy one liners, links to resources, shout outs and retweets.

A few of my favorite tweets from the day are:

I encourage you to take a look at all the tweets from the day by searching #NCCSLM and listen to the day’s recording that will be made available from AALL in the near future.  ‬‬‬

As the Vice-President/President-Elect of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), I wanted to tell our 3 Geeks’ readers about the new visual identity and tagline that AALL officially rolled out last night. Leaders within the organization worked on this rebranding effort for nearly two years, and displayed the new logo back at the annual meeting in Chicago last July. I, for one, like the new logo, and the tagline that goes along with it. I applaud those that worked on the rebranding effort and I hope that members of AALL, as well as those that benefit from the work that law librarians, legal information professionals, take a moment to look at the new branding and take a moment to think about all the good work that the Association, its members, and staff provide to the legal industry.

I wanted to focus on the tagline, and the two meanings that it represents.

Your Legal Knowledge Network

Internal Meaning: To members of AALL the tagline represents the community of knowledgeable law librarians and other legal information professionals who identify with the ideals of access to justice, the dissemination of legal information, and the ability to reach out to that community in a way that adds value to the service we provide for our individual organizations. To me, the best thing about AALL is its members. It is your legal knowledge network because we learn from each other, and we form bonds that unite us and allow us to leverage the knowledge of the entire association, regardless of the type of work we perform, or the organization which we work. This is your legal knolwedge network of highly-educated and forward-thinking professionals are willing to give their time and experiences to help others within AALL and beyond is a valuable professional development tool which all law librarians and legal information professionals should feel proud to belong.

External Meaning: For the legal industry, AALL members represent some of the most educated, connected, and resourceful employees of your organization. AALL becomes your legal knowledge network and exposes your organization to advanced educational opportunities to keep your law librarians ahead of the curve for changes in the legal environment. AALL is your legal knowledge network to discover new legal information resources and provide access and understanding of how these resources may bring value to your practices within your organization. AALL is your legal knowledge network to fight and lobby for legal information to be open and available and not locked behind a government or corporate wall. AALL is your legal knowledge network that multiplies the talents and skills of your legal information professional by the diverse talent and skills of thousands of other law librarians and legal information professionals.

I may be biased in my appreciation for AALL and what it does for me, my organization, my profession, and the legal profession as a whole… but I am not wrong. I have written and talked about the value of law librarianship ever since former AALL President and Georgetown University Law Library Director, Bob Oakley, reached out to a very green law librarians some sixteen years ago and asked me to write about where he thought I believed the profession was going. AALL gave me a voice and an opportunity to leverage its members and resources to expand my own career. I hope that in the course of my journey I return the favor to another member of my network.

I think our current President, Ron Wheeler says it best. “AALL’s new brand honors our past, embraces our present, and emboldens our future as legal information professionals. The knowledge and talent of our members, combined with their unrivaled dedication to service, make our whole legal system stronger. I have never been more proud to be a law librarian.”

For those current members of AALL, thanks for being a part of this network. For those that have lapsed in the past few years, I encourage you to come back. If you’re a law librarian or someone who works in the legal information profession, I invite you to come join and make this network your own. For those who employ law librarians and legal information professionals, encourage them to join and leverage this network. After all, AALL is your legal knowledge network.

image [cc] Angelskiss31

Let me start out this post by saying that I like David Perla, President of Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg BNA’s Legal division, and consider him to be an ally for the law librarian and legal information/knowledge profession. However, I have to say that I am a little disappointed at his Above the Law article yesterday called “A Challenge for the Gatekeepers.” His article starts out with a warning to the legal industry saying that “change is coming – with or without you,” but then he spends the rest of the article singling out Law Librarians and Knowledge professionals as the gatekeepers. Although David says this isn’t about Bloomberg Law’s new roll out of a Tax Product, quite frankly, it reads like it is. I’m really disappointed that he took to Above the Law to vent.

Transitions in how a legal products perform for practice areas is something law librarians deal with practically on a daily basis. One of our primary responsibilities for our firms are to evaluate these products and present an initial evaluation report to the Practice Group Leaders or power players within the practice area. Law Librarians have a diverse legal expertise, and some are legal area experts. I know law librarians that are more savvy when it comes to understanding practice areas like Tax or IP than most Associates or Junior Partners in their firms. We understand our firms, we understand our Practice Groups, and we are tasked with the responsibility to know when it is right to push for new products, and when it isn’t time.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I push for change every day! EVERY SINGLE DAY!!

I constantly evaluate new products, establish training sessions to teach attorneys and others the value of the very expensive resources we purchase with our law firm partners’ money. I work to de-duplicate resources so we are not wasting money. I also make recommendations on keeping similar products because I understand the way the attorneys work and know that sometimes it pays to have those resources, even if on the surface it seems irrational. I make sure that we have team members that go to PG meetings to observe, listen, and engage. It’s not gatekeeping. It’s called being a leader and making sure that we are implementing the overall strategies of our individual attorneys, our Practice Groups, our Offices, and our Firm as a whole.

I’m a little confused when David wrote:

I attended a session at AALL [American Association of Law Libraries] where librarians were brainstorming how to be more relevant or get lawyers to pay more attention to them. But when the moment comes to actually introduce change at law firms, they flinch out of fear. Afraid that the attorneys they work for will find change uncomfortable, they balk—just as Monster’s executives balked at upsetting the site’s customers.

Not buying a new legal information product is not the same as “flinch[ing] out of fear.” I find that statement to be a bit misleading, and way overly broad in the assumption that law librarians can’t pull the trigger on change.

I appreciate Bloomberg BNA being a disrupter in the legal information field. But, I will say that when the disruption initially affects the Tax and the Labor & Employment groups, it makes for a very difficult sale to those groups. Not that they are change adverse, but that they are either well served by their current products and have a comfort level with them, or that they are a group with very narrow profit margins that have to have concrete evidence that new, much more expensive, products will truly make their work more efficient and not decrease that narrow margin.

It’s not about throwing up barriers for change. It’s about understanding our environments and applying our expertise, experience, knowledge, and wisdom to every single change we see, every single day. I’m not a gatekeeper that flinches at change, I’m an experienced leader for change that make sense for my organization.

 While I was sadly unable to attend the 2016 AALL annual conference that wrapped yesterday in Chicago, I have it on good authority that the most recent ALM Law Library Survey  caused some intense discussion around industry surveys and their value. The issues raised go well beyond law libraries and seem to fit almost any annual survey where industry statistics or trends are presented. Those in legal marketing, would no doubt agree that directory rankings, akin to surveys of the industry are just as flawed in their research and survey methodology. Not to mention the concentrated amount of work they represent for a dubious ROI.  Nevertheless, since it was a hot topic yesterday, let’s go back to the ALM Law Library Survey as the catalyst for exploring the topic of surveys and their value. 

On the surface, the question “Do you plan to eliminate a majority of your print collection within the next five years?” seems innocuous. But if you think about it for more than a second, the question itself is a bit like leading the witness. There is no way to answer the question without distorting the data.   If you answer yes, the analysis will jump to suspicions of shrinking libraries, if you answer no, the analysis will jump to law librarians not embracing the future and e-resources.  Either way, the survey will point to a definitive trend about the value of librarians and libraries as a result of one poorly worded question the value and timeliness of which is in and of itself outdated. Not to mention that the results are often skewed by lumping all respondents together regardless of budget size, head count or prior culling of collections that have already been accounted for in previous surveys.  

The question, simple on the surface, points to a lack of understanding about the industry and most certainly limits the usefulness of the aggregated responses.  Print resources are an indication of – what?  Surveys, much like directories, league tables and the like provide those who create these industry research pieces with dramatic headlines, website traffic and social media click-throughs, generating soft leads and business or consulting opportunities. Surveys also provide data and data should provide insights, at least that is how it is supposed to go down.  But there has to be integrity and mindfulness in both the collection and analysis – the question above and its binary answers with no context, provides for neither. 

I am a data junkie, you all know that. I love metrics, and analytics makes me happy.   I understand the desire to create some benchmark that compares everyone to everyone else to see who’s winning and who’s falling behind. It can be the American Lawyer rankings, or it can be a Cosmo survey. The problem is that if those that are producing the survey don’t ask thoughtful questions and implement solid statistical analysis, they can pretty much make up the results (the old “I can make data say and anything I want”) to serve their end needs.  Now, I may be naïve or a bit of a Polly Anna, but I honestly don’t believe that those who create these surveys do so with malicious intent. I do believe that ALM or Bloomberg, Lexis or Thomson genuinely care about the clients they serve and do want to provide value to their clients by way of empirical data and industry insights.  

As I see it, the current model of survey and reporting as discussed at AALL has two flaws.  The first: survey creators are often on the sidelines, looking in on the action – they support the game but aren’t in it the same way industry leaders would be.  Therefore, to really add value, survey creators need to find a way to include industry leaders or practitioners in the creation of the survey so that the same questions are not asked year after year skewing the results in to a cumulative data mess. If you want to provide real usefulness, start by asking insightful well-crafted questions.  The second: despite working in an industry of word smiths who manipulate language to serve the needs of their clients, many of us (myself included) need to brush up on our written communication and analysis skills. That is, we need to be able to draft better questions, that result in stronger more representative and meaningful findings.  The size of print collections in the earlier example is no more an indication of a library’s strategy than the number of beds in a hospital speaks to the quality of care. Correlation is not causation, and poorly constructed survey questions, limit analysis to trite observations adding little benefit to the working body of industry knowledge.

I’ll stop the rant now, but hope next time the discussion turns to surveys, we can actually discuss the results and what action we want to take, rather than the methodology. 

A few minutes ago, AALL President, Keith Ann Stiverson, made the announcement that the members of AALL voted down the proposed name change to Association for Legal Information:

The proposal to change the name of American Association of Law Libraries to the Association for Legal Information has failed by a vote of 1998 (80.11 percent) opposed, to 496 (19.89 percent) in favor. A record number of members voted on this proposal, with 59.51 percent casting a ballot.  

The fact that 60% of the members took the time to vote, showed that the issue was important, and the fact that 80% of those votes were a “no” to name change, drove home a point that I’ve heard from the members over the past few months. It is clear that the ALI name was not the one members wanted. It was also clear that many of the members were open to the idea of change, but that members wanted much more of a voice and the ability to comment and bounce ideas before an up or down vote is made.

While there are a very small number of members that felt that AALL as “American Association of Law Libraries” was just fine, most of the people I talked to made a comment similar to this:

I am fine with rebranding the association and even changing the name… but just not this name.

I am happy that the members made their voices heard. I am happy that the AALL Board took the initiative to put this challenge out to the members and get the conversation started. This is not the end of the conversation, by any means. This is the beginning of a longer conversation, and a chance to look at the good and bad of what’s happened over the past couple of months and how to move on in a respectful way to the next step in the process.

This is still fresh in my mind, so there are a few ideas that I’m bouncing around in my head, and would like to discuss as we move forward:

  • I think members are still receptive to a name change (AALL (alone), changing Libraries to Librarians, adding “Information Professionals” to AALL, or adding Professionals to ALI. But, I don’t think anyone has the stomach to try this right away. Let’s put a pin in this one for now, and move on.
  • Rebranding goes on. No one is standing still. Members, Board, Stakeholders, etc. We all know that the association needs to adapt to serve its members and to increase awareness of the stakeholders in what we all bring to the table within our organization, and the overall value of our profession. That discussion moves forward.
  • I think the Board “heard” the members when it came to involvement and discussion prior to voting. I, for one, as an incoming Vice President/President Elect, heard that message loud and clear.
  • I think most of the members understood what the Board was attempting to do, and even when they disagreed with the Board’s actions and ideas, did so respectfully. There was no evil intent. If you think there was, I suggest that you re-evaluate the situation and give the board the benefit of the doubt here, and move forward.
  • There will be no running to the doors. AALL is the association for those of us that call ourselves law librarians. No other organization focuses more on our profession. We can face the future together, we can argue and debate the path, but at the end of the day, we come together for the greater good of our profession.
  • That said, our profession is changing. Librarians, Lawyers, Analysts, Writers, Researchers, and other professionals within the legal field have many things that we can learn from each other. Looking to bring in non-traditional roles into the ranks of the Law Librarian association does not make us weaker, it makes us more diverse, and stronger as a whole. Law Librarianship is still the pivotal function of the association, but narrowly defining who fits that role is a disservice to all who can benefit from the association.

Although this was a record number of people that turned out to vote, there were still over 4 in 10 of us that didn’t vote. That, to me, is a red flag. As I move forward over the next couple of years and move from Vice President to President, I would like to find ways to reach out to those other 40% and find ways of motivating them back into the ranks of active and contributing members. I also want to make sure that the other 60% also remain active and seek out ways that we can help ourselves, each other, and the profession.

Over the next month, members of the American Association of Law Libraries will vote on whether to change the name of the organization to the Association for Legal Information.  I will be voting yes, and I encourage all members to take the time to research and think about what the rebranding and renaming initiative means for the association, the profession, and yourself. This is important, and no member should stand on the sidelines and let others cast votes in your absence. The rebranding effort is a huge undertaking by the leadership of the association, and is step one of many in helping the association change to meet the needs of current and future members.
Nearly six years ago, I penned a post called “This Isn’t Your Daddy’s Law Library! – Time for a Law Library Revolution.” In that post, I point out the new and creative ideas and services created by law librarians, and the desire of those who wish to steer the profession back what they believe to be the core function of law librarians in acquiring, storing, cataloging, and distributing legal information. Here is a sample of my thoughts on what happens when the library pendulum shifts toward new and progressive ideas, and the desire for some to move that pendulum back to the center.

Whenever the law library gets progressive and starts promoting new ideas, those ideas get spun off into their own departments and the creative law librarians leave the library field to join these departments. Things like Knowledge Management, Competitive Intelligence, and even some Marketing and IT ideas that were created in the library now exist outside the library. So it seems that the general direction the law firm libraries have taken in the past 15-20 years is to get us back to what we were doing in the 1980’s.

My thoughts back then were focused on the moves by law firms to place library functions under the IT and/or Marketing departments. My thoughts now are that six years have nearly passed and while this is still a conversation within the industry, the next wave of change is already taking place. A new outsourcing movement is occurring in the Northeast where entire law library functions and personnel are not only removed from a Library Department, they are being removed from the law firm completely and now work for a Library Consulting company. We are still arguing about where we exist within the firm, while the leaders of the firm have moved on to deciding if we even belong in the firm at all.

The only thing harder than adjusting to change, is pretending that the change hasn’t already happened. As General Shinseki so eloquently stated, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” The Law Librarian profession has changed, and is continuing to change. That is not a bad thing, it is just the reality of the profession. It is up to the leaders within our profession to position the association, and prepare its members to lead and direct the changes, rather than react when it is too late.

During this decade, the corporate law firm libraries have vanished, the private law firms have undertaken massive changes in structure, and the government law libraries have transformed themselves into a new function surrounding access to justice. The academic libraries haven’t had the drastic changes in structure, but they are not immune. We saw hints of change at Harvard with John Palfrey’s brief reign, but not nearly what I envision will happen over the next ten years to what the pain of decreased admissions and the burden of student debt brings to the entire law school organizational structure.

Times for law libraries aren’t simply changing — they have already changed, and the next wave of change is already upon us. It’s time that all of us understand that, and stop thinking of ways to move the library pendulum back to center. That pendulum no longer even exists for many of us in the profession.

This brings me to why I am voting “yes” on the initial phase of rebranding AALL by changing the name to the Association for Legal Information. The profession has changed and it is time for the association to lead and prepare its members for the next round of changes, rather than lag behind and react after the fact.

The profession’s core functions are still based on acquiring, storing, cataloging, and distributing legal information. However, those functions will be more of a commodity than an added value. It’s all those other functions that we as librarians have produced over the years that will create the value the profession produces. Information to Knowledge, and Knowledge to Intelligence, and Intelligence to Experience, and Experience to Expertise are the key factors going forward. It starts, but does not end with the information we gather and maintain. The association needs to position itself to lead on developing these value added functions, while continuing to support the core functions.

The Association for Legal Information is where we start with the rebranding of our association and profession. This will be the springboard to help us leap to the next iteration of what being a law librarian and legal information professional means, and the value we bring to the legal industry as a whole. The rebranding is not about leaving law librarians behind. Far from it. It is about augmenting what we do, and bringing new ideas and new experts into the field to use as specialists, and for us to learn from them in return. It is about Law Librarians being the change and leading the way into the future.

Following the AALL conference Mark Gediman’s contentious stance on Google, made the rounds here on 3 Geeks and in various other places. In fact, Mark will be reprising his stance on the famous search engine next week on an SLA CI Webinar, titled “Is Google Enough?” You can register here, if you want to hear it all again or challenge him to a duel. And while the Google Debate is a good one, earlier this week, Greentarget and Zeughauser Group, released their Fifth Annual survey of In House Counsel on their use of Digital and Content Marketing. The results were unsurprising for the most part and suggested that the better the content the more often it will be read. The survey responses and by extension in house counsel, urge law firms to plan out a proper strategy for digital content rather than just writing blog posts for fun. That seems all pretty straight forward to me. Then, I read this nugget:

“Wikipedia is becoming more popular among IHCs; 71 percent said they used it to conduct company and industry research — up from 51 percent in 2012. “

The answer to that survey question scares me more than the potential repercussions of the Google debate. Why and how, are in house counsel relying on Wikipedia for anything, let alone company and industry research? Don’t get me wrong, I think Wikipedia *can* be a great starting point, and I use it often. But it is a starting point, a means to an end and certainly not to be relied upon. Can you imagine using Wikipedia for due diligence research? Crowd sourced information worries me, the way Big Data scares me. Anyone can publish anything to Wikipedia and it will stay there until someone else takes it down. I would rather see in house counsel relying on company websites, twitter feeds, government industry analysis or even editorials. I understand that unlike law firm lawyers, in house counsel often don’t have the luxury of staff Librarians, CI practitioners, corporate researchers or others who are skilled at and have the time for research, but surely there is a better (though not faster) source than Wikipedia.

It may be time we pull back from the ease of the internet and think about artisanal research, bespoke industry analysis and custom reporting. The tools and technology available to us today, make research accessible and easy, if budgets allow there are plenty of SAS products out there that can help bring all your vetted sources into one newsletter or portal to make that type of research Wikipedia-fast but factually accurate and integral too. I won’t belabour the point, I think 3 Geeks readers are savvy enough to know where I am heading with this rant. Instead, in true collaborative fashion, I will urge all in house CI researchers, librarians, information professionals, marketing research or social media folks to reach out to their legal teams and provide them with alternatives to Wikipedia, establish some kind of information pipeline that has integrity and depth and that can be shared via RSS to intranets and other portals. And I will ask those in the same roles in firms to think about what value added services we can provide to clients that might be better than Wikipedia and help mitigate the risk of bad information as well. As I always say…information is quick, intelligence takes time. You can decide which you prefer to provide and use.

Download Flyer

I wanted to put out a pitch for the AALL Leadership Academy and suggest that if you, or someone that works for you, are looking to hone your leadership skills and network with experienced leaders and peers within AALL, then you need to take a look at this program.
The deadline for application is coming up on November 4th, and the Academy itself is on April 1-2, 2016 in Chicago (actually, Oak Brook at the McDonald’s University campus.) Below are some details about the Academy, and I’m sure that Celeste Smith, AALL Director of Education, will gladly answer any additional questions you have.

Lead Effectively: AALL Leadership Academy

April 1-2, 2016
Hyatt Lodge
2815 Jorie Blvd
Oak Brook, Illinois 60523

The 2016 AALL Leadership Academy will emerging leaders with essential leadership skills and tools to be an effective leader. The Academy has a solid reputation for building strong leaders who are prepared to meet the challenges facing today’s law libraries. Investing in emerging leaders builds a talent pipeline, supports the long-term mission of your institution, and supports the profession. The program will include discussions to explore key leadership concepts and current trends, assessments to identify strengths and preferences, small and large group collaboration, and focused development activities.

About the Academy:
  • Open to: AALL members with up to 10 years of experience
  • Cost: $575
  • Apply by: Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 5:00 p.m. (CST)

Criteria for consideration:

  • Library/law degrees held
  • Leadership and/or service record 
  • Statement describing the personal/professional benefits of attending
  • One professional recommendation

Why you should encourage members of your staff to apply:

  • The academy utilizes current leadership best practices and research-based techniques.
  • It is designed to give participants practical tools and strategies that will help them emerge as effective and confident leaders.
  • Effective and confident leaders inspire other staff, which creates a thriving organization.
  • Trained leaders take more initiative and support the organization’s strategic goals.

What participants will learn:

  • Leadership models, concepts, and myths
  • Effective and assertive communication techniques
  • Leadership styles and approaches 
  • Strategies for difficult conversations
  • Core leadership values
  • Motivational leadership
  • Influence and workplace ethics 

There has been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere and twitter this week about the Bloomberg Law article “Law Firm Librarians Feel Underused and Underpaid” and the accompanying survey. First off, I want to thank Bloomberg BNA for conducting this survey, sharing the results with the law librarian community and David Perla, President, Bloomberg BNA Legal Division and Bloomberg Law, for discussing these results with me.

I think this title was a bit misleading. Librarians were expressing their frustration that firms weren’t fully utilizing their talents. I think that leaner staffing and more recognition of Librarians as an excellent low cost resource have kept them extremely busy and useful. As David said, “Research is in its lowest cost place today. Research is being pushed down to the lowest cost research, the library.”

My discussion with him about this survey was interesting. Their motivation for conducting this research was as a vendor of Business Development (BD) tools, they wanted to get a sense of the scope of the involvement of law librarians in BD. The overwhelming response of librarians answering “yes” to the question of could they be better utilized took them by surprise (95% of the respondents to Question #6). This is something I’ve been talking about for years (Here’s an example) and I’m pleased to see that this is becoming a universal point of view.
He also noted that law firm librarians see themselves as a resource for the acquisition of work for the firm. This is borne out by the following survey responses:
Q1: 81% cite pushing relevant information on client intel directly to individual stakeholders as demonstration of their value
Q2: 72% see BD and CI as areas currently handled has part of their job
Q3: 66% see BD and CI as logical areas for someone with a law firm librarian skillset to add value

The numbers clearly demonstrate a recognition by the law librarian community of the fact that this is a major contribution they can make to the success of the firm. However, only 18% say their law firm is currently using them in this capacity (Question 5). When taken into account with the previously discussed results, it appears that librarians are not being acknowledged for the BD and CI contributions they are making now. The reasons for this could be that these contributions are funneled through other departments, not recognized as BD or CI, or simply done on an ad hoc basis.

One possible cause for this was identified by David in our discussion. He noted that firm BD initiatives lack consistency from one firm to the next. As result, the quality of the underlying research and analysis is not consistent. Using librarians in this capacity is an easy way for firms to utilize an existing resource to create a consistent high quality basis for strategic business decisions.
The most interesting post for me was from fellow Geek Zena Applebaum. Zena used the survey to point out a path to address the concerns that were expressed by the respondents. David agreed with Zena’s assessment that Librarians are natural sleuths and are good at figuring out the client’s needs early and identifying strategic areas for the firm to target. Let’s face it, the days of “they know what I can do and they know where to find me if they need me to do it” are long gone.   Her post should inspire each of us to take charge of our destiny. Pick up that phone and ask your Marketing counterpart to lunch. Meet with your practice group leaders and show them how you help them achieve their strategic goals. Now is the time for action!

Some are saying that President Obama’s choice to fill Dr. James H. Billington’s position at the Library of Congress could very well define his legacy as President. If you’ve paid any attention to this discussion, the common theme is that, while Dr. Billington was a good leader, he lagged behind in positioning the Library of Congress for the 21st Century and the digital age. Now is the time to change the direction of the Library, and the American Association of Law Libraries is adding its voice to what Law Librarians would want in the 14th Librarian of Congress.

The letter below was sent to the President today recommending that he nominate a candidate who will provide strong leadership on issues affecting libraries in the digital age.


Contact: Cara Schillinger
Director of Membership, Marketing, and Communications


CHICAGO, August 3, 2015 — The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) today submitted a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama recommending he nominate a visionary leader with a deep commitment to preserving cultural memory as the new Librarian of Congress to replace Dr. James H. Billington, who is retiring from the position effective January 1, 2016.

The Librarian of Congress heads the Library of Congress, recognized as the United States’ de facto national library and the largest library in the world. The librarian also oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, Law Library of Congress, and several other service and support units. Dr. Billington, the 13th Librarian of Congress, has served in the role for 28 years, after being appointed to the position by former President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

AALL’s letter asks President Obama, during his search for the next Librarian of Congress, to consider qualified candidates, including law librarians, who will provide strong leadership on issues affecting libraries in the digital age — such as preservation of and permanent public access to born-digital and digitized materials.

AALL believes the next Librarian of Congress should have a transformative vision of a strong, responsive, and modern Library of Congress for the 21st century and beyond; possess a sophisticated understanding of how technology can improve library operations and promote access and reservation;
and display a commitment to transparency, public participation, and collaboration.

The full text of AALL’s letter to the president is available at bit.ly/AALLlocrec. For more information about AALL and its other advocacy efforts, please visit www.aallnet.org.

About AALL
The American Association of Law Libraries was founded in 1906 to promote law libraries’ value to the legal and public communities, foster the law librarianship profession, and provide leadership in the legal information field. With nearly 5,000 members, AALL represents law librarians and related professionals who are affiliated with law firms; law schools; corporate legal departments; courts; and local, state, and federal government agencies. For more information, visit www.aallnet.org.

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