Magazine article Information Today

Beyond Boundaries: AALL Meets in Texas

Magazine article Information Today

Beyond Boundaries: AALL Meets in Texas

Article excerpt

The eyes of Texas were on law librarians at the American Association of Law Libraries' (AALL; aallnet.org) 107th Annual Meeting & Conference, held in San Antonio July 12-15,2014. The event brought slightly more than 2,000 attendees and exhibitors to town. With the Alamo only a few blocks from the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center and Spanish as commonly heard on the streets as English, the conference theme, Beyond Boundaries, suited the venue very well.

Keynote speaker Andrew Keen, author of Digital Vertigo: How Today's Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us, began the conference on a pessimistic note. "I'm here to ruin your morning," he said. He didn't succeed, but he did raise some concerns that are applicable for all information professionals, not just for law librarians.

Keen is skeptical about people becoming more creative by getting beyond boundaries, which was in direct contradiction to sentiments expressed by AALL president Steven Anderson in his introductory remarks. Keen is also disappointed that the technological revolution that promised total equality--a diminution, if not outright destruction, of boundaries--has not happened. Instead, new boundaries such as Google, Facebook, and our personal networks dominate our online experiences. Google, he said, "is doing away with libraries." Noting the increasing inclination of lawyers to do their own searches, Keen concluded that law libraries are doomed. But not, he added, law librarians. It's his belief that if librarians leverage their curatorial skills and become more entrepreneurial, they will thrive. His final thought was that since the old institutions don't work, librarians need to reinvent the concept of expertise and look at how the "Internet of People" can connect with the Internet of Things.

Yellow Rose of Texas

Most of the sessions at AALL were traditionally formal presentations. As in past years, kiosks scattered throughout the conference center offered attendees the option of printing out interesting papers. However, this year, fewer presenters submitted their papers to AALL, putting the usefulness of the kiosks into question.

Law librarians are deeply enmeshed in legal research, of course, but recently they've been drawn into business research as well. A particularly interesting session focused on competitive intelligence, a topic gaining ground now that law firms increasingly compete for business. Gathering data on other law firms and their lawyers and on potential customers, including cities, is only part of the job. …

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