The 2015 Law Librarian Migration

Around the third week in July, Librarians from all around the world gather like seagulls to a fishing fleet for the annual American Association of Law Libraries (“AALL”) Annual Conference and Meeting.  This year, the AALL Annual Conference was held in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia.  While full of culture and known for it’s historical significance in the annuls of American lore, Philadelphia, for me, is more particularly known for its food – specifically, the Philadelphia cheese steak sandwiches.  I love those things!  This year, I found a place at the Reading Terminal Market that makes these sandwiches with cream cheese and provolone.  Add a micro-brew root beer and I was in pig heaven.

In addition to the foodie stuff, the Annual Conference provided many opportunities to network with fellow law Librarians as well as be intellectually fed with some intense educational programs.  While the programs covered the gamut of the practice of law Librarianship, I, sadly, could only attend only a few.  Following is a summary of what I learned:

1) When creating marketing flyers, use the rule of thirds, your pictures/graphics should relate to the data in your flyer, use no more than three fonts per flyer, subtle differences are hard for the brain to see so partner big things with small (not medium), and some great online resources to help create flyers include:

2)  Notwithstanding the naysayers, the law Librarian industry is vibrant and healthy.  There were dozens of universities, law firms, court and county law libraries seeking to fill employment opportunities from lowly file clerks up to library directors from all around the country.

3)  When working on a library budget, directors should involve everyone in the project.  The reason for this is that while it helps everyone understand what goes on in the budgetary process, it shows people where the money is being spent (so that later, staff knows what not to ask for and fewer people are complaining about lack of end-of-year bonuses).  When speaking to staff about the budget, don’t talk like an accountant (heck, accountants shouldn’t talk like accountants) using terms like FASB and GAAP.  Rather, break down terms so that the common man can understand what is being said.  For example, explain what is and the difference between a hard and soft costs.

4) Subject guides are an excellent way to communicate with your library patrons on what resources you have in your library.  What is important to note is, however, that with over a zillion (that’s an actual number) subject guides online, why create another one when you can just link to a great subject guild someone else created?  If nothing else, it saves on bandwidth and the time it would take to create yet another guide on immigration (of which there are thousands on the Internet).

5)  When doing any writing assignment, it is important to know who your audience is, that you clearly state your primary goal(s), couch your tone to match the primary audience, if you need to cite primary and secondary authorities be sure to cite them correctly, keep related information together, use words consistently (i.e. while renter and tenant may mean the same thing, they don’t look like the same thing), remove acronyms (such as “AALL”, “GAAP”, “FASB”, “XYZ”) and proofread, proofread, proofread your work.

6) Finally, if you want to know know to conduct legal research in the “real world,” use a “real world” resource (like your local county law library).  Yes, there was an actual program on what law schools and law firms should know when teaching first year lawyers how to do legal research in the “real world.”  My take away was was to send students and new lawyers to the/a county law library and speak to the Librarian because they/we know what is needed in the “real world” of legal practice.  Actually, I really had to stifle a laugh because at the RCLL, we do practical/”real world” legal research classes all the time.  The librarians at my table were amazed at the work we at the RCLL do everyday for our pro se patrons and the legal community (i.e. the “real world”).

And that’s about it.  Oh, there was the usual late night Librarian parties, karaoke competitions, intense networking sessions, and campfire songs about all things legal research but, as the saying goes, what happens at the Annual Conference, stays at the Annual Conference.  Can’t wait til next year!


By rcll

July 29, 2015

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