Magazine article Information Today

Law Librarians in the City of Brotherly Love

Magazine article Information Today

Law Librarians in the City of Brotherly Love

Article excerpt

The American Association of Law Libraries' (AALL) 108th annual meeting and conference saw 1,450 attendees gather from July 18 to 21 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

At the opening session, keynote speaker Terry Gross (host of NPR's Fresh Air) drew parallels between the conference's theme of The Power of Connection and her own work to dig deeply into the lives of the artists she interviews. She shared audio clips of previous interviews and explained how each affected her attitude toward her work and how she relates to her guests. Fresh Air gives authors, actors, musicians, and other public figures a chance to reflect on their lives, and Gross' goal is to understand how their personal lives shape their artistic expressions. As AALL president Holly M. Riccio noted during her introduction, the theme of connection runs through our lives in all areas. It helps us have a more positive impact on our jobs, institutions, and the legal profession.

Technology Skills Law Librarians Need to Thrive was an interactive session moderated by Deborah Ginsberg (educational technology librarian at Illinois Institute of Technology's ChicagoKent College of Law). She walked around the room encouraging attendees to share their real-life examples of the broad topics the panelists discussed, such as the need for law librarians to understand the positive and negative aspects of new technologies, how law libraries bridge the gap between the business side of the law firm and the technological processes it needs to operate, and the variety of data elements that law librarians encounter. The panelists noted that law librarians support and provide access to technology, and must interpret it for their patrons, whether they are in law firms or law schools. They don't have time to train every user, so they must come up with strategies for deciding the best way to spread their knowledge--for example, making a video that displays a series of screen captures of a new product with their narration on how to use it. The panelists advocated making partnerships with IT-savvy people in their institution so they could ask them for help when needed. They also encouraged librarians to join ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) for help with learning new technologies.

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University Connections

In the session The Power of Connection in Academic Libraries, Brian Mathews (associate dean for learning and outreach at Virginia Tech) shared his attempts to make connections at his university to show how it could deliver value. When he started at Virginia Tech, the library had older technology, and he wanted to make it an innovative space. So he formed the key strategy of "invest[ing] in partnerships." His first tactic was to change the physical space of the library to make it mutually beneficial to those seeking a place for study as well as to provide access to resources from the university's various departments and offices, such as the career center. Then, he concentrated on relationship-building with the campus community--the library became a destination for faculty to give lectures, provide instruction, and create exhibits of their work. The third tactic was to evaluate the learning infrastructure by preparing analytics on how the library was leveraging its spaces and content. He wanted the library to be seen as helpful to the research lifecycle (with services such as data collection, publishing, and international cooperation) as well as the teaching lifecycle (becoming part of classes beyond just providing information on instructional design, co-teaching, and assessment, etc. …

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