Featured Article – Ideas in Client Service: Preparing Deliverables

By Monique LaForce

Deliverables are the “quantifiable goods or services . . . provided upon the completion of a project.”[1] In the context of reference and research services, deliverables are the results produced by a research librarian that are given to a requestor.

Deliverables are a key component of a library’s client service. Producing excellent deliverables requires both researching the information given in response to a request and packaging that information to the requestor. This article raises considerations for the librarian when determining how to present the end results of a research project.

  • Deliverables are the essence of a project. All the client sees is the final product delivered to her. She doesn’t see the hours of effort that may have gone into finding and compiling the information – only what is presented to her. Thus, the final project is important – it is the critical link between a researcher and his client.
  • Deliverables should be clear, responsive, easy to read and understand, and accurate. A requestor should not have to dig through a pile of material (paper or electronic) to find what she is looking for. The information requested should respond accurately to the request, and be clearly labeled and presented.
  • Deliverables should be proportional to the request they respond to. Deliverables should be proportional not only to any budget allocated for a request, but also to the request itself. Verifying a court phone number doesn’t warrant creating a PowerPoint presentation. A simple email, text message, or telephone call should suffice. Likewise, a request for an in-depth company profile will likely merit additional packaging, perhaps including an executive summary of findings, charts, a written report, and exhibits.
  • Deliverables should provide source information. The source of the information contained in a deliverable should be noted.  Generally the information in a deliverable will be used by the client in another context (for example, incorporated into an article, brief, or pitch) and the requestor may need to reference or refer back to the original source material.
  • Deliverables vary by project and may evolve as a project proceeds. The format for a deliverable may be dictated by the person making an information request. She may specifically request a book, a chart, a pleading, or a summary email. Often, the deliverable will vary depending upon the information located. For example, if a researcher is compiling outcomes of a certain type of case brought against a particular litigant, the deliverable may look very different if there are only three lawsuits matching the relevant criteria, as opposed to 300. Time and budget constraints may also dictate a deliverable’s format.
  • Deliverables should always meet client expectations. What is delivered to a client varies depending upon what is requested, as outlined above, but deliverables should meet the client’s expectations each and every time they are presented. Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles argue in their 1993 book, Raving Fans, that it is far better to meet expectations on all levels consistently rather than to exceed expectations sometimes or only in some areas. According to Blanchard and Bowles, always meeting expectations creates a trust that elevates a customer to a “raving fan.” Meeting client expectations may require communication with the client at the outset of or throughout a project in order to calibrate those expectations (if, for example, the information the requestor seeks is not publicly available or cannot be obtained within the client’s budget or deadline).

Deliverables are a key component of the relationship between research librarian and patron and the manner in which they are presented should be carefully considered and well-executed to provide excellent client service.

AALL 2012 Annual Meeting Recap

By Katherine Baer, MD State Law Library

As you all know the state budget is undergoing some major constraints, therefore the LLAM grant allowed me to attend the AALL conference this year.  So first off, thank you very much.  The conference was held in Boston, which was feeling the heat as most of the country this summer, so it was not that much of a problem to stay indoors for a few days and “learn, connect and grow” which was the theme of this year’s conference.

The conference sessions opened up with a keynote by Richard Susskind, a Scottish professor and lawyer who specializes in looking into the future, focusing on the areas of law and technology.  Professor Susskind covered the overwhelming growth of technology and how lawyers are reluctant to embrace this growth.  Along with this, is the increasing demand to do more for less and the ongoing need for access to justice.  After a sometimes frightening look into the future, he finished up by explaining that librarians are in an ideal position to redefine themselves and adapt to these changes in the legal world.

I won’t go into all of the sessions I attended, but will highlight a few of my favorites.  There was a session on the National Declassification Center (NDC).  They have been tasked with the job of declassifying over 380 million government documents.  Their director, Sheryl Shenberger reviewed their progress including successes and obstacles and clearly outlined how herculean a task this was.  One of the biggest challenges is that while they are trying to tackle the backlog, new materials continue to accumulate. Nate Jones from the National Security Archive, a watchdog group on government openness, assessed NDC’s progress.  As you can imagine, Mr. Jones was fairly critical of NDC’s progress and the reasons behind it.  He stated that the mindset that remains is over bureaucratic and inefficient.  The two speakers realized that they were never going to agree.

Copyright is a strong interest, so I attended the “Hot Topics in Copyright for Librarians”.  There was an overview of basic copyright law and some key issues that librarians need to be aware of when tackling copyright questions.  They then went on to discuss some major cases that have occurred in the past year; including the Georgia State case which dealt with e-reserves and the Google books lawsuit.

I usually try to attend at least one session on a topic that I know very little about and this year I chose patent law.  There was a session entitled “I Have a Patent Number – Now What?” The challenges of a patent number actually gives COMAR a run for its money.  The speakers ran through the intricacies of deciphering a patent number and  where you go once you have some direction.  It takes a special skill set to work with patents.

I recently joined AALL and in doing so joined the Government Documents Special Interest Group.  I attended their morning breakfast and was impressed by the turn-out and agenda.  They started off introducing the VIP guests, including David Mao of the Law Library of Congress who is the AALL programming liaison. We also heard a GPO update from Mary Alice Baish.

The conference was in Boston, a city I had spent a fair amount of time in while I was young, but hadn’t been back to in 20 years. One highlight was the State, Court, Counties gathering at the Social Law Library.  It was especially exciting for my husband who is a Herman Melville fanatic.  Did you know Melville’s father-in-law was the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court?  Well, they had part of his library and even the chair he died in!  Definitely, the highlight.  All in all, it was great chance to learn, connect and grow with some fabulously talented librarians.

On the Radar: What’s New in the Library World?

By James Durham, Deputy Director of the Maryland State Law Library

This selection of new tools, upcoming conferences, and announcements has been gleaned from library organization discussion lists, blogs, websites, and conversations. Perhaps one will spark your interest…?

  •  The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is now available as an iPad application. The Bluebook continues to be available in paper and online. A new guide by Mary Whisner, called Bluebook Technologies, is available through LLRX at http://www.llrx.com/features/bluebooktechnologies.htm.|
  • Google now offers free Course Builder software to create online classes. Course Builder enables posting of course materials, creating a course community, and evaluating student progress. Course Builder is the same software used to present the recent online course series called Power Searching with Google. To learn more about Course Builder and to watch an intro video, please visit https://code.google.com/p/course-builder.
  • The Library of Congress recently launched the beta site of Congress.gov, the successor to Thomas.gov. The new site currently contains legislation from 2001 to the present, and Congressional profiles from 1973 to the present. Over the next two years, Congress.gov will incorporate all of the information currently provided by Thomas.gov. The new site contains improved Google-like search features, updated design, and compatibility with mobile devices.
  • Support the Maryland Library Association (MLA) with every sip of coffee! MLA will receive 20% of the purchase price of any MLA Coffee Blend (100% Arabica) purchased through Cabin Creek Roasters. The featured blends are Dewey’s Decaf, Readers’ Brew, and Margaret’s Choice. To order, visit http://www.mdlib.org/.
  • A complete library of Maryland Attorney General Opinions will be available through HeinOnline, beginning in late October or early November. To learn more, visit http://www.heinonline.org.
  • Coming soon! State Library Resource Center (SLRC) Conference, October 31, 2012, Enoch Pratt Free Library / Central Library. This year’s conference will feature traditional programs, discussions, tours, and hands-on instruction. For more information, visit http://www.slrc.info/index.aspx?id=74287 or contact Shayna Siegel at slsiegel@prattlibrary.org.
  • Coming soon! Best Practices Exchange, December 4-6, 2012, at Lowes Annapolis. (Acquiring, preserving, and providing access to government information in the digital era.) For more information, visit http://www.bpexchange.org/.Registration Now Open! American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, January 25-29, 2013, in Seattle. For more information, visit http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/.
  • Save the date: Bridging the Spectrum: The Fifth Annual Symposium on Scholarship and Practice, February 1, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Great Room of the Pryzbyla Student Center at Catholic University of America. The conference will feature briefings, poster sessions, and panels on a wide range of library and information topics. Visit http://slis.cua.edu/symposium/2013/index.cfm.
  • Save the date: AALL 2013 Management Institute, March 7-9, 2013, Palomar Hotel in Chicago (Developing future managers; leading new managers to success). Details not yet available.

Learning from Displays – The War of 1812

Fort McHenry Bombardment 1814

by Pam Luby, Research Librarian, MD State Law Library

One of my responsibilities as a part-time reference librarian at the Maryland State Law Library is to maintain the display cases in our lobby. Highlighting items we have in our collection is the goal. Not surprisingly, The War of 1812 is our current display.

When I began planning the display, my thoughts turned to The National Anthem and Francis Scott Key, Dolly Madison saving the huge painting of George Washington while fleeing the burning White House, and the Indian leader Tecumseh. Then my mind went blank and I realized how little I actually knew about the War of 1812. Creating this display turned out to be a fascinating project. For those of you who slept through American History in high school like I did, here is a brief synopsis and highlights of the war.

The War of 1812 was a conflict between the United States and the British Empire that began in 1812 and lasted until early 1815. A declaration of war was requested by President James Madison to protect American ships on the high seas and to stop the British from capturing U.S. sailors. U.S. ships were being stopped and searched by British and French ships, which were both fighting each other in Europe. President Madison also wanted to prevent the British from creating alliances with Native Americans on the American frontier. Americans in the West and South, who hoped to increase the size of the United States by seizing control of both Canada and Florida, influenced his decision. Critics called the War of 1812 “Mr. Madison’s War,” but others saw it as a “second war of independence,” an opportunity for Americans to protect their freedom and honor in the face of European disrespect.

Dozens of battles were fought on land in Canada and in the United States, in the present-day states of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Maryland, Louisiana, and Alabama. There were crucial naval battles on Lakes Erie and Champlain, and a wide-ranging maritime struggle with many episodes off Virginia, Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, Cuba, Ireland, the Azores, the Canaries, British Guyana, and Brazil. The United States was surprisingly successful against the great British navy, but the War of 1812 also saw American armies surrender en masse and the American capitol burned.

The war eventually ended in a stalemate. The Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24, 1814 although not ratified until after the final Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. The settlement simply ended hostilities and restored pre-war borders. The conflict served to define the nation of Canada but the British made no stipulations for the Indians. The U.S. and Canada ultimately each gained a sense of nationalism from the conflict, while the result tolled the end of Native American dreams of a separate nation.

One in particular was Tecumseh. He was a Shawnee Indian who eventually became one of their greatest leaders. By the early 1800s, Tecumseh decided that the best way to stop white advancement was to form a confederacy of Indian tribes west of the Appalachian Mountains. Tecumseh believed that no single tribe owned the land and that only all tribes together could turn land over to the whites and that a united Indian front would have a better chance militarily against the Americans.

During the War of 1812, Tecumseh and his followers allied themselves with the British. Tecumseh hoped that if the British won, they would return the Indians’ homeland to them. Tecumseh died at one of the most important battles of the conflict, the Battle of the Thames, in 1813. A combined English-Indian force met an American army but the British soldiers ran from the battlefield, leaving Tecumseh and his Indian followers to continue on their own. The Americans drove the Natives Americans from the field, and an American’s bullet killed Tecumseh. Tecumseh’s death signified the end of united Indian resistance against the Americans.

By the beginning of 1814, Americans were growing tired of the conflict and opposition to the war was on the rise. However, on August 24, 1814 it became personal. A British force occupied Washington, D.C. and set fire to many public buildings following the American defeat at the Battle of Bladensburg. The White House, the U.S. Capitol, The Library of Congress and many other government buildings were largely destroyed. Less than a day after the attack, a hurricane that included a tornado passed through, injuring British soldiers and putting out the fires. This forced the British troops to return to their ships, many of which were badly damaged by the storm, and so the actual occupation of Washington lasted about 26 hours. The British Commander later reported that more of their soldiers were wounded and killed from the hurricane than from all the firearms the American troops could muster in their ineffectual defense of Washington.

After destroying the Capitol and exhilarated with their easy victory, the British headed north to Baltimore where they hoped to strike a major blow against the demoralized Americans. However, Baltimore, being the country’s third-largest city and a vital port, had been preparing for this attack for a year. Maryland militia numbered 9,000, with every able-bodied male up to the age of 56 having been called up in its service. The Battle of Baltimore was a combined sea/land battle and was a turning point in the war. American militia who were determined to hold the line at Baltimore blocked the land assault. To reach Baltimore by water, it was necessary to capture Fort McHenry. Under the command of Major George Armistead and with 1,000 soldiers, the Fort could not be breached after a 25-hour bombardment and ultimately the British withdrew.

In Baltimore’s preparation for an expected attack, Fort McHenry was made ready to defend the city’s harbor. Major Armistead commissioned Mary Young Pickersgill to make two oversized American flags for the fort. The larger of the two flags would be the Great Garrison Flag, the largest battle flag ever flown at the time. The smaller of the two flags would be the Storm Flag, to be more durable and less prone to fouling in inclement weather. Mary Pickersgill stitched the flag with her daughter, two nieces, and two African American servants in six weeks. She was paid $405.90 for her work — at that time, more money than most Baltimore residents earned in a year. Contrary to popular belief, the flag did not fly during the Battle of Baltimore, but was raised after the U.S. victory, at “dawn’s early light,” to the tune of Yankee Doodle. The Flag remained with the Armistead family until 1912, when it was given to the Smithsonian. By then over 200 yards of it were cut and given away as tokens of appreciation or service, including the 15th star, which has never been located. Today, the flag measures 30 feet by 34 feet. The official name of the flag is the Star-Spangled Banner, and it is on display at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where it continues to inspire generations of Americans.

It was at this battle that Francis Scott Key wrote our National Anthem. When the British left Washington, they took with them an elderly and well-respected American physician prisoner, Dr. William Beanes, whom they accused of spying. Beanes was taken to the British flagship HMS Tonnant, which was anchored in Baltimore harbor. President Madison gave attorney Francis Scott Key the sanction to intervene. On September 3rd, Key and Colonel Skinner, who was experienced in negotiating prisoner exchanges, sailed for Baltimore. They reached the Tonnant under a flag of truce on the morning of the 7th. After defending Dr. Beanes by producing letters from wounded British prisoners who told how he and other American physicians had respected them and treated their wounds, the British agreed to release the three men — but only after a few days. They were placed under guard aboard the HMS Surprise. On the morning September 13th the battle began; it lasted for 25 hours. Francis Scott Key and his two American friends were transferred to their sloop behind the convoy of British warships. They could only watch helplessly from its ramparts, closely guarded by the same enemy that was simultaneously killing their countrymen.

Early the morning of September 14th, Key was inspired by the American victory and the sight of the large American flag flying triumphantly above the Fort. Key wrote a poem on the back of a letter he had kept in his pocket. After being released, Key completed the poem at the Indian Queen Hotel, where he was staying, and entitled it “Defence of Fort McHenry.”

Americans took tremendous pride in their victory over the British at the Battle of Baltimore. Handbills were quickly printed and copies distributed to every man who was at Fort McHenry during the bombardment. Key’s words were first printed on September 20, 1814, in the Baltimore Patriot and Advertiser. By the end of the year, Key’s words were printed across the country as a reminder of the American victory. The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song “The Anacreontic Song” (or “To Anacreon in Heaven”), and later renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The “Star Spangled Banner” became a well-known American patriotic song. It gained special significance during the Civil War, a time when many Americans turned to music to express their feelings for the flag and the ideals and values it represented. By the 1890s, the military had adopted the song for ceremonial purposes, requiring it to be played at the raising and lowering of the colors. Despite its widespread popularity, “The Star-Spangled Banner” did not become the National Anthem until 1931 When President Hoover signed it into law.

Full Disclosure Keynote Address

By Mary Jo Lazun
Head of Electronic Services
Maryland State Law Library

Lucy Holman, MLA President and Director of Langsdale Library at the University of Baltimore introduced Maureen Sullivan, incoming ALA president and Steve Anderson, incoming AALL president. Rather than a traditional keynote address Lucy Holman asked Steve and Maureen a series of questions. Highlights are below.

 1. The trend now is now toward discovery services and a simple search box. Some people consider this “googlize” searching a major mistake, others wonder why it has taken us so long? What is your opinion?

Maureen sees the current trend towards a simple search box as a positive development since it makes access to our collections easier for patrons. We need to be willing to change the way we like to work and think about how we should work. Steve noted that we need to evaluate what we need the catalog to do. In some cases a simple shelf list is all that is needed. In other cases a full-blown discovery system might be required.

 2. What role should librarians play in helping users understand automated filtering and assisting them in their own efforts to manage information overload?

Steve noted there are benefits to personalized results, but one of our jobs is to educate patrons that there may be more material available than they are currently viewing. He also noted that patron education about how to use our materials, regardless of format, is a perpetual role for librarians.

 3. What advice would you give “up and coming” librarians who wish to become leaders? 

Maureen started the discussion by remarking that librarians must recognize that by getting their MLS they are entering a profession and should have a thorough understanding of what it means to be a professional. She noted that one of the best ways to become a leader is to become actively involved in professional associations. She also noted that leadership is a process and librarians should not wait to be “anointed.” To be an effective leader a person must be attuned to the strengths and weaknesses of others, and be willing to adapt to changes in the environment. In her opinion, the most critical leadership skill is the ability to learn. Steve noted that professional associations are a great way to learn and develop leadership skills. There is also a practical aspect—it is harder for an employer to say “no, you can’t do that” when your work benefits the profession.

 4. What developments in publishing do you see coming in the next decade and how will that affect libraries?

Steve started the discussion by commenting that the publisher’s job is to package and ensure that the product we buy is of high quality. The role of the librarian becomes even more important when evaluating self-published materials. Maureen discussed a meeting between New York publishers and ALA. The meeting illuminated the fact that publishers do not have a clear understanding of what libraries or librarians do.  What was clear was that we are both committed to serving readers. Maureen also recently attended a meeting at Harvard with academic publishers, faculty, and librarians who are interested in how people are using newly digitized materials. ALA plans to continue the dialogue with both groups.

 5. How do you see the physical space, we call a library, evolving from material repositories into learning spaces for campuses or community centers for neighborhoods?

Maureen believes that the physical space of a library, if there is one, should be determined by the library’s constituency. For example, the recent closing of the stacks at Welsh Library at Hopkins Medical was well planned and designed to meet the needs of their students and faculty. We may someday not only have embedded librarians, but embedded libraries. She recognizes that “closing the doors” does have an impact. In public and school libraries, open and fluid spaces that can be configured and reconfigured are a good trend. Steve emphasized that libraries are part of institutions so what each institution needs will vary. What we need to be ready to do is respond to the needs of the institution. Embedding doesn’t mean the loss of the library; it is just a different kind of library.

6. What advice would you give librarians on advocating for change on their own campuses or joining larger efforts?  How can we encourage faculty to advocate for more open access?

 Steve advises caution in this area. While the move to open access journals has value in terms of cost savings and improved access, we are at great risk if these materials are not preserved. Deciding what to keep in print and what to leave online are issues that need to be balanced against institutional needs.

 7. Many librarians, particularly those who work in a business environment, are no longer calling themselves librarians but are using titles like information analyst, knowledge broker, cybrarian, or informationist. Is it time for a name change? What are your thoughts?

Maureen noted that the changes we are seeing with job titles is about conveying to our clients and funders what we do. We will probably see our titles change and evolve with the professions climate.

 8. How do you envision the transition to from online to print changing the job of librarians? (Audience question)

Steve said that regardless of the format  library materials are made available and our patrons need accurate services; therefore, he sees little change in our current roles. Librarians need to remember it is not about the space, either shelf space or server space, our goal is to provide accurate information. Maureen thought our jobs may evolve to allow for more flexibility for managers and their employees. For example, some libraries are moving toward generic positions descriptions and eliminating annual performance evaluation.

9. Please provide details on adaptive leadership (audience question for Maureen)

Maureen cited Warren Bennis author of Geeks and Geezers who saw leaders becoming deep generalists with broad competencies. She also cite’s Kouzes and Posner’s book The Leadership Challenge that discusses that individuals can develop leadership skills but noted that socialization does determine how quickly those skills develop. She also mentioned Ron Heifetz book, Practice of Adaptive Challenge as another good source of information about adaptive leadership. A detailed bibliography of selected readings on Leadership recommended by Maureen Sullivan is available at https://llamonline.org/agenda/

10. With eBooks, self-publishing, open access etc., what is the librarians role in protecting the first amendment. (Audience question).

Steve pointed out that protecting access to information, speech, reading etc., is what our profession is all about. And we need to pay particular attention to fostering diversity of speech.

Full Disclosure Program Summaries and Program

Download the Conference Program.

Program Summaries

The “New” Librarian Toolkit

Webinars: They’re Not Just for Vendors Anymore – Carol Mundorf, Manager of Training Services at Ballard Spahr LLP, gave us a peek at what it looks like to hold a WebEx webinar meeting.  For those of us that have only attended webinars but never facilitated one before, Carol’s informal presentation made the process much less intimidating. In fact, Carol made the process look downright simple! Key takeaway: Webinars aren’t just for instruction; they can be used for association meetings, to pass control of people’s desktops, or to assist long-distance patrons.

    • A Recipe for Facebook Success  – Joyce Garczynski, Communications and Development Librarian at TowsonUniversity and a very dynamic speaker, described how she and the Cook Library at Towson University use Facebook to promote library services, interact with students, and connect with faculty. Her library has two Facebook accounts – one for more professional communications and one (“Albert”) for more personal and fun posts.  The latter account connects more with students, while the former is the official face of the library. Interestingly, Joyce has both a professional and personal account on Facebook, herself. She uses the professional account to friend faculty.  Since she started friending faculty, her requests to teach classes and for information shot up. Joyce suggested that even on your professional Facebook page, you should put some non-controversial personal information up, so that co-workers/faculty feel like they can connect with you. Joyce puts up pictures of the cakes she decorates.  (They look lovely! And delicious!)
    • Don’t Let Your e-Files Manage You –  Paul Lagasse, from Active Voice Writing & Editorial Services and a former archivist, explained how he organizes his electronic files. This was an eye-opener for those of us who have some trouble finding documents and emails. He said that although directories of folders are still the best way to organize online documents, he suggested that you create your file structure independent of the defaults, since you can remember what each folder is for better if it’s self-created.  Names should not be obscure (he starts them off with dates), and “smart folders” – “folders” created by tags or keywords — are a great way to handle complex filing.  Paul also described how organizing and maintaining a good group address book and then applying rules to emails that come in can make organizing automated and easy.  Key takeaway: Right-click!  Right-clicking emails of folders will often give you opportunities to select “categories” or “tags” or to create individual icons.
    • PowerPoint Doesn’t Have to Suck – Michael Shochet’s presentation on PowerPoint was a highlight on the conference.  His key point – don’t let the slides detract from the speaker; the speaker is the center of the presentation, not the slides.  In order to accomplish this shift, the slides should contain very little text and be as simple as possible. More complex charts or information can be put in a handout.  Michael suggested planning what you want to say first, then adding slides of images to compliment your presentation. If you’d like to see Michael’s presentation and handout materials, it is available on his website at: http://ubalt.libguides.com/powerpoint
  • Not Your Father’s Gov Docs
    • Navigating U.S. Government Information with FDSys – Kelly Seifert from the United State Government Printing Office gave us an overview of the new system FDsys. This replaces GPO Access which was taken offline a couple of weeks ago. Kelly walked us through the different collections and navigation tools, highlighting the depth and breadth of FDsys. Kelly used a variety of searching techniques and stressed the fact that FDsys is continuing to add and grow. FDsys will also be acting as a preservation repository creating permanent access to Federal Government information.
    • Reports: Understanding the Process – Sarah Albert from Maryland’s Department of Legislative Services Library walked us through the process of Maryland Mandated Reports. These are reports that come from various state agencies and have been mandated through law. Sarah’s responsibility is to track these reports down so they meet their mandate. She showed us the database she created to help track and acquire these reports. This process can be quite challenging because of the volume and variety involved.
    • Who owns the law?” Law.gov and Efforts to Return the Law to the Public Domain – Who owns the law?  Fastcase CEO Ed Walters thinks the answer should be straightforward: the public.  But, as Walters demonstrated in his thoughtful presentation, primary legal material is largely inaccessible to the public via Google or other popular search engines, and what is available is poorly organized, rarely authoritative, and can disappear without warning.  Further, the current Lexis/Westlaw duopoly over primary legal material only serves those who can afford access to those databases.So Fastcase has been working closely with leaders in government, academia and technology to develop Law.gov, an open access system for making primary legal material readily available to the public.  Walters dismisses notions that Law.gov is trying to undermine Lexis and Westlaw, although he peppered his presentation with anecdotes about some of Fastcase’s more interesting interactions with Wexis over the yearsInstead, he likens the Law.gov effort to the implementation of the U.S. interstate highway system.  He believes that Law.gov can provide a uniform, unified infrastructure for providing authoritative legal material to the public, instead of forcing users to navigate a patchwork of local, rural roads for locating federal or state law.
    • Going Old School In The New World: How Legislative Procedure Drives Legislative History – John Cannan from Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law discussed the legislative process and how changes in technology are impacting legislative history and our ability to track it. He outlined the historical process and how a bill could be traced as it went through committees. Now through the use of “cutting and pasting” and email a lot of the process is getting lost. A librarian needs to have a strong understanding of congressional procedure in order to keep on top of these ongoing changes.
  • Under the Hood
    • Twinkies, Kodachrome and MARC: the Changing Landscape of Libraries – Mary Jo Lazun of the Maryland State Law Library began the session with a discussion of lessons librarians can learn from the recent bankruptcy filings by Kodak and Hostess. Kodak’s mistake was that they forgot that their core mission was selling memories and not film. Librarians must not lose sight that we are about more than providing access to books and databases. Mary Jo sees the core mission of librarians as a providing “access to opportunities.” Hostess’ inability to adapt caused them to lose market share beginning with the publicity related to the “Twinkie Defense.” Unlike Hostess, librarians have a long history not only adapting to change but embracing it as seen by adoption of the card catalog, OPACs, and most recently discovery systems.
    • Discovery Tools at Pence Law Library-  Jeanne Felding of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Library discussed how she is using EBSCO’s Discovery Service to bring together two very distinct user populations—the scientists at their Janelia Farm campus in Virginia and administrative staff of lawyers, accountants, and endowment managers in Maryland. Her ultimate goal is to provide full-text access available anywhere, anytime, to all HHMI staff and researchers. It is a goal she may not achieve in her lifetime, but it keeps her focused on making sure her decisions lead to achieving that goal.
    • One-Stop Search Environment For Full-Text Materials – At the American University, law librarians realized that the aging look of their online catalog was causing students and faculty to believe that the library’s collection was also aging. To get students to use the wide variety of print and online sources at Pence Law Library, Christine Dulaney and Sima Mirkin are using Innovative Interfaces products—Encore, Synergy, and Pathfinder Pro not only to enhance the look of the catalog but to provide students with easy access to their print collection, article databases, and specialty databases.
    • The Future of Discovery – Dave Hemingway of Innovative Interfaces, Inc. described major enhancements coming is Encore. High on the list in integration of social media, via community tagging, Facebook, and Twitter within the catalog records. Patrons will be to use a new dashboard to manage their library account and share lists of what they are reading and have read with others. Direct integration eBooks and LibGuides is also coming soon.
  • Eyes Wide Open
    • Google As A Legitimate First Step In Research-  Joanne Colvin presented Teaching Google as a Legitimate First Step in Research. Joanne, librarian at the University of Baltimore School of Law, acknowledges that the first step most researchers take when starting a new project is to Google their topic. This fundamental change in research strategy is here to stay; librarians serve their patrons best if they accept the change and focus on teaching patrons how to optimize their Google search skills and evaluate their results. Joanne explained some of the basics of how the Google search engine works – especially how results are relevance-ranked. She then showed how some features of the search engine can be manipulated to override the default ranking, and how others can provide Google with additional information to improve the accuracy of relevance ranking. The second part of the presentation outlined how researchers can evaluate websites once they’ve done their Google search. Factors to consider are authorship, accuracy of information, currency, publisher/sponsoring institution, bias/point of view, and citation to authority. The presentation ended with several examples of how a seemingly legitimate website can in fact be misleading.
    • “Teaching Technologies” for Legal Research Instruction – Jason Hawkins and Jenny Rensler, librarians at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, presented on “Teaching Technologies” for Legal Research Instruction.  Jason began by challenging the assumption that technology should always be used in teaching; instead, he pointed out that the first step in planning a lesson is whether or not to use technology at all. The goal in weighing the benefits and pitfalls of teaching technologies is to consider whether the technologies provide an added benefit to students in the learning process that outweighs its pitfalls. Jason and Jenny went over a number of “teaching technologies” that may be useful in a range of settings from formal classroom settings to just-in-time instruction. Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) provides several online tools including lessons on dozens of topics for self-directed learning, basic polling, and a growing number of e-books. Creating a screencast through software like Camtasia can be used to create video tutorials of an instructor walking the viewer through computer-based research steps to support self-directed learning, and to supplement class time. Other software they addressed included chat reference through the free Meebo Messenger, Prezi the dynamic presentation software, an institutional Facebook page, and a class website using Blackboard.
    • Letting Students Teach Your Class – Jill Burke presented Letting Students Teach Your Class. Jill is a librarian at the Community College of Baltimore County, Dundalk. Due to recent construction on campus, her library did not have a library instruction lab, and librarians had to learn to teach research classes with just five laptops. In this presentation Jill shared how she kept the students engaged and taught them basic research skills. Each class began with an initial introduction to basic concepts such as keywords, Boolean operators, and databases. With just a handful of laptops, Jill then had the students work in groups of two or three.  Each group was assigned a database to explore (through a series of structural/process questions) and a substantive question to answer. At the end of the breakout session each group presented their findings to the entire class. The structure of this class was both efficient and effective. The students were engaged and learned the necessary skills despite the limited resources caused by the construction.
  • How May We Help You
    • Seeking a Monograph – This program described the work conducted by Steven Heslip, Director of User Experience at Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries. According to Wikipedia, user experience design (abbreviated as “U.X.D.” or “U.X.”) “… incorporat[es] aspects of psychology, anthropology, sociology, computer science, graphic design, industrial design and cognitive science…. User experience design most frequently defines a sequence of interactions between a user (individual person) and a system, virtual or physical, designed to meet or support user needs and goals, primarily, while also satisfying systems requirements and organizational objectives.” Using the example of a student seeking a known monograph, Steven walked the audience through the process of analyzing the various paths by which a student could locate and obtain the monograph. Using input from librarians in different departments, and visual tools such as Visio and Balsamiq, he tracked the process with the objective of clarifying and improving library procedures.
    • Using An iPad To Redefine Roving Reference Service In An Academic Library-  Joanna Gadsby and Shu Qian of UMBC discussed the pragmatic details of implementing the project, such as where on campus to post the roving librarian and at what times of day; how to design a cart or carrying case for the iPad and other necessary accoutrements; and how to publicize the initiative. They also presented some of the detailed statistics they kept, including the types of questions received from what types of patrons; the times of the semester and times of the day that most questions were received; and the most popular locations for the roving librarians.
    • Faculty Services Librarians + Faculty = Student Success –  Three energetic librarians from different Montgomery College campuses detailed their joint and separate efforts to educate faculty about the library resources and services via a wide variety of innovative outreach initiatives. Diane Cockrell (Germantown campus), Kathy Swanson (Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus), and Christine Tracey (Rockville campus) described how their outreach results in faculty devising realistic and appropriate assignments which facilitate effective student learning about research and about using library resources.
  • In the Stacks
    • Digital Initiatives at UB – Thomas Hollowak described the digitization projects recently undertaken by the Special Collections Department at UB’s Langsdale Library. Many of these projects reflect regional and Baltimore history; one example is “Baltimore 68: Riots and Rebirth” which collects oral histories and photographs from the Baltimore riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.  Thomas also touched on the digitized collection of UB yearbooks and catalogs.
    • We’ve Got a Lot of Stuff: Maryland Historical Society – Iris Bierlein discussed how the small staff of the Maryland Historical Society juggle their collection management and patron services duties, and described projects where the two aspects of their mission can work together.
    • The Road to Chapter 11: Library Serials Procedure – Mary Murtha, Lisa Bellamy Smith, and Clement Lau of UB Law Library described the workflow process that they have developed for their extensive cancellation of print serial subscriptions in favor of electronic, as a result of budget cuts, rising subscription costs, and the need to reduce the size of their print collection due to space constraints in their new library, which will open in 2013.
    • Stuck In The Middle With You: Print v. Online – Sara Thomas, Librarian at Whiteford Taylor in Baltimore, reflected upon the strengths and weakness of print versus online sources, including the new interfaces of Lexis Advance and Westlaw Next, and the challenges librarians face in helping their researchers achieve efficiency and effectiveness by making appropriate choices among the available options.
  • Librarians Just Wanna Have Fun
    • Boost The Fun (Factor) In Your Outreach – We first heard from Gergana Kostova and Nicole Smith from University of Maryland Baltimore County.  Gergana is a librarian and Nicole is one of the student interns. Gergana wanted to reach more of the first-year students at UMBC and she enlisted the help of fellow students such as Nicole to see what would draw them in. They hosted a variety of events including a coffee and UMBC cupcake meet-and-greet, as well as a full-fledged concert with a popular UMBC acappella group.  They combined these events with quizzes, etc and were able to determine that by their last event they had over 50% attendance by first-year students.  They are going to continue to think outside of the box to reach this vital audience.
    • PAWS for Reading:  Read with Us On Saturday Mornings – The next speaker was Lorraine Martorana from Cecil College’s Cecil County Veterans Memorial Library.  She has also strived to reach an audience and this one being children & parents who wouldn’t normally visit the Cecil College campus.  Lorraine partnered with the PAWS Reading Program which provides trained dogs & cats to which children can read.  The program started slow but word of mouth has kept the numbers growing.  Lorraine has gotten buy-in from the campus community and plans to continue with this worthwhile program.
    • Putting a (Technology) Petting Zoo to Work for You – Kristen Welzenbach from Goucher College spoke next with the intriguing topic of a technology petting zoo.  Kristen was surprised to find that a number of both faculty and students were not familiar with many of the latest “smart technology” devices.   With the help of Goucher’s Information Technology department, Kristen was able to showcase several devices including a variety of tablets, eReaders, and smart phones.  They even offered a raffle to give away one of the items. They held a few of these petting-zoos in varied parts of campus and were very happy with the turn-out.  Kristen was then able to put an eReader pilot program in place which is underway now.  Here is the libguide Kristen created for her eReader program: http://libraryguides.goucher.edu/ereader
    • Library Yogi – The final speaker of the day was Wendy Maines from Thomson Reuters Westlaw. Wendy’s topic was Library Yoga.  Wendy is a yoga teacher as well as an information professional.  She gave several demonstrations of seated yoga positions that we can all do from our desk.  All of those present took advantage and practiced the poses right along with her.  She started with the importance of breath, highlighted areas affected by carpal tunnel syndrome and finished with some words about meditation.  It was fantastic way to end this incredibly full and enriching day.
  • Legal Aid
    • Attorney, Client and the Librarian – In this session, Joan Bellestri discussed the steps she took to create a once-a-week “Lawyer in the Library” program at the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Law Library.  This very successful and beneficial program now offers county residents a free 20-minute session with a lawyer. Challenges included finding appropriate space, getting enough attorneys to regularly volunteer, answering malpractice insurance questions, solving logistical problems with sign-ups, scheduling and waiting lists, and getting the word out to the public. A pilot program proved that the public would come and that attorneys would support the initiative. The program now includes sessions at the Courthouse library well as evening sessions in public libraries.
    • Stealth Learning: Librarian Interactions with Patron – Vickie Yiannoulou, of thePrince George’s County Circuit Court Law Library, assists the public in researching difficult legal questions. They run the gamut from family law issues to landlord tenant disputes to business law problems. Research roadblocks include legal texts with unfamiliar and confusing legal language, complicated legal online search syntax and a shortage of easy-to-understand layman’s materials. Here are her first steps for answering these difficult questions:
      • Get an idea of what the patron needs to know – often the patron him/herself doesn’t know what is needed.
      • Start with the Code/Rules, then look at form books or the Maryland Law Encyclopedia
      • Expand your search to specific practice treatises
      • For answering basic questions, use either Nolo Press books or the MSBA book on Civil Pre-Trial

PracticVickie also recommends reading Mary Whisner’s 94:1 Law Library Journal article  on the art of the reference interview as a start.

Free Online Tools for Legal Researchers – Imagine legal research without Lexis, Westlaw or any other paid legal databases, or even access to a print law library – how would you answer legal questions using only free Web sources?  Sara Witman discovered she could indeed answer many questions within this limited scenario. As an example, she recently was asked to find cases explaining the in pari delicto defense. She started with Nolo’s Free Dictionary of Legal Terms to define her phrase, then found a list of cases from Google Scholar and the Maryland Judiciary’s Casesearch.  CornellUniversity’s Legal Information Institute also provided federal and state court opinions and has searchable codes and regs. Other useful free legal research sites are Zimmerman’s Research Guide for specific questions of law, the National Council of State Legislatures site for 50-state surveys or the People’s Law Library to answer basic questions of court procedure. For people searches, she uses Facebook, LinkedIn and PIPL.com. For company research, Google news and Yahoo Finance are helpful starts.

Thank you to the following people who submitted summaries:  Katherine Baer, Joanne Colvin, Mark Desierto, Susan Herrick, Mary Jo Lazun, Kate Martin, Jenny Rensler and Sara Witman.

My Disastrous New Job!

By Bill Sleeman
Assistant Librarian for Technical Services and Special Collections
Supreme Court of the United States

In May of 2011, after seventeen years at the Thurgood Marshall Law Library at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, I moved to a new position as the Assistant Librarian for Technical Services and Special Collections at the Supreme Court of the United States. While I was sad to be leaving so many friends and talented colleagues at Maryland, it was not possible to pass up the opportunity to be a part of the Supreme Court. Little did I know that my first six months on the job would be such a disaster or, more accurately, a series of disasters. These incidents helped to focus my understanding of how a library disaster plays out in real time and just how very necessary a disaster response plan is. In this article, I hope to share some of this hard earned knowledge with the LLAM community while encouraging those who do not yet have a plan to prepare a disaster response plan.

Shortly after I moved to the Court, the then Court Librarian Judith Gaskell asked me to assume responsibility for preservation planning and for re-writing the library’s disaster plan. She also explained that this was not a high priority task. As I have prepared disaster plans for other institutions and have completed some preservation training from the Johns Hopkins University Library and through PALINET (now Lyrasis) I felt fairly secure in my ability to complete the task despite being new to the Court. Since it wasn’t a priority I thought I would work on it around all of the other tasks that come with learning a new position.

Unfortunately, only a couple of months into my tenure – and before the plan was started – a potential disaster loomed in the form of Hurricane Irene. By itself a glancing blow from a hurricane might not have been a cause for concern but that very week a contractor working on repairs to the Court’s roof inadvertently damaged the roof of the building directly above our rare book storage area. With help from the Special Projects Librarian, our Administrative Secretary and the Collections Management staff, we were able to scrounge up some plastic from the Marshal’s Office and were able to cover the compact shelving that housed part of our rare book collection. As a precaution we also moved our oldest and most unique material out of that area.

As we all breathed a sigh of relief that there were no leaks in the rare book area I resolved to get moving on the plan. Suddenly it seemed like a much higher priority!

I completed an initial draft of a plan and sent it up to the Court Librarian to be reviewed when we, along with much of the east coast, experienced the earthquake of 2011. While this did not cause any of our book stacks to collapse as happened at the McKeldin Library of the University of Maryland, it did send some of our books crashing to the floor so that I, along with Collections Management staff, had to spend time walking the stacks to re-shelve material and replace bookends.

Having side-stepped an earthquake, a hurricane, and a tropical storm that had passed through the Washington DC area (again, before the roof was repaired) I mentioned to a co-worker that I had better get that disaster plan approved before we had a volcano! I was starting to feel truly jinxed regarding disasters when a sprinkler head in the library’s main reading room was damaged resulting in water damage to the building and the collections.  It is that event that I want to explore in more detail.

A sense of disbelief was the first reaction I had when one of my staff members stopped by my office that September morning and asked if I knew that there was water leaking in the main reading room. As I mentioned above we had been joking amongst ourselves about my recent run of disasters; it didn’t really seem possible that something else could have happened but as I stepped into the hallway I could hear the water streaming out of a broken sprinkler head.

We do not know exactly how much water was released but the type of sprinkler system installed in the Library’s reading room is intended to fully douse a fire in its particular zone or range in a few minutes – this damaged sprinkler ran for over ten minutes – and resulted in nearly three inches of water on the floor and water draining down the vertical supports of the shelving units. There was so much water in fact that it ran down between floors and was pooling also in the main hall of the Court building two floors below the library.

Despite the volume of water we were quite lucky in several ways. First, the main reading room was in the midst of a renovation project and some plywood boards had been placed across the top of the upper tier of double-book stacks which helped to deflect some of the water. Second, we had two staff members who, along with one of the contractors working on the renovation, quickly gathered some plastic sheeting from the renovation workers and then climbed up on the top level of stacks, while the water was still going, and spread the plastic out across the top of the upper shelving further deflecting the water away and protecting a significant portion of the material.  Some of the contractors working on the renovation also quickly threaded plastic sheeting through the shelving in the bottom tier across the books on the top shelves.

Initial response /safety: This brings me to the first point I want to share with readers. While we are very grateful for their efforts, had I been in the room at the time I would not have allowed anyone to get up on the top tier of the bookcases while this event was going on. There was still power going to the lights and floor receptacles and the water was dousing metal framed book stacks – from a safety standpoint this was so not a good idea!  One of the first things to keep in mind when responding to a disaster is that safety really does have to come first – no book collection is worth risking life or injury to protect in an ongoing disaster.

Initial response / building security: My second point goes hand-in-hand with personal safety and that is building security. As staff from around the Supreme Court converged on the area the librarians were, to some extent, relegated to the sidelines. As counter-intuitive as that may seem it really is the most appropriate course of action.  Library staff were anxious to get in and start saving the materials but those several inches of water were still on the floor and the power was still on. The Marshal of the Court, the Court Police, and the Building Support Services staff really did not want or need the librarians underfoot until they had completed the tasks that they needed to do – including wetvacing up the water and getting the power turned off. The contractors working on the renovation also played a role as they quickly pitched in to help get the water cleaned up.

The key point here is that it is important for library staff to maintain contact with responders but to also stay out of the way of the public safety and facilities staff in your institution in the initial response to a disaster. Until the space where your materials are shelved can be secured it is not safe for you or your staff to try and rescue the materials

Initial response / ‘ready to rescue’: Once the power was off and most of the surface water had been mopped up – we were ready to start. Your disaster plan should guide you in making preparations for the initial survey of the damage and how you will sort and shift materials. The disaster response plan should also direct you to what supplies to have at hand for immediate reactions and what first steps you need to take. While our plan had yet to be approved by the Court Librarian I had outlined what we might need and, as building staff worked on securing the area, library staff began the process of getting organized.

Some other initial steps that should be a part of your disaster response plan:

  • Contacts: Your plan should have an up-to-date contacts list. Using the list in our disaster plan I contacted a colleague at the Library of Congress as I knew that they had some cold storage space at Fort Meade. I did not yet know how much damage we had or how many books we were talking about but it is a good idea to begin making contacts and arrangements for possible responses as quickly as possible.
  • Packing supplies: Your plan should outline what supplies you will need and where they will be stored. As we waited to get into the damaged area we began rounding up the various boxes, crates and book carts we would need to move and/or ship materials.
  • Building resources: Your plan should outline where to get those resources you will need in an emergency but that you can’t really keep in the library. In this instance we worked with our Building Support Services to begin lining up large floor fans so that if we had to air dry material we could be ready. The fans would also be useful to circulate air in the library stacks to try and keep the humidity down.
  • Staff involvement: Your plan should detail the steps that staff will employ to begin rescuing your materials. As we waited for access to the area, the Special Projects Librarian and I circulated among the library and buildings staff reminding them not to remove any books from the shelf until we could make a survey of the damage.

Once into the area we discovered that the damage was not as extensive as the amount of water suggested. The plywood and the tarps helped to divert much of the water away from the collection. However, the water that flowed to the lower parts of the building, as I mentioned earlier, traveled down the shelf support beams so that material touching the vertical supports were saturated and those next to them, books being a lot like sponges, began absorbing water from their next door neighbor on the shelf. Wet books can quickly become too heavy to support themselves and will suffer additional mechanical damage if handled incorrectly. It is a good idea to include early on in your disaster plan instructions on how to handle wet materials.

After a survey of the entire affected area, I began, with the guidance of the Court Librarian, to assign staff specific tasks to perform. One thing we needed to do very quickly to avoid the spread of water (and potential mold) was to separate the material that had not gotten wet from those that had. Even as we were working we could feel the humidity in the area going up – we needed those fans to move air and we needed to get the dry books away from the wet items. Because of the already mentioned renovation work we had several long runs of open shelves that served as swing space to temporarily move dry materials.

Ongoing action / prioritizing the response: Knowing the priorities for response is integral to planning a successful rescue. In our situation this meant being fully aware of the Court’s needs as we moved forward with salvaging the materials. Working with the Special Projects Librarian, two members of the Research Department and the Collections Management staff, we quickly determined that there was too much wet material and that it was far too compromised for us to air dry. We needed to quickly make a decision about remediation.  Unfortunately we did not have any sort of “if and when” contracts in place for remediation or freezer space -“this was on my list of things to do.” The Court’s Supervisory Contracts Specialist was a tremendous help in getting an emergency contract in place with a remediation vendor. Our colleagues at the Library of Congress also kindly agreed that we could use their Fort Meade facility but since they had materials there already it would not hold very much and we would have to arrange packing and transit. After talking it over with the Court Librarian it was agreed that we needed a full service response.

As we sorted material, shifting the dry material away from the wet, the remediation vendor arrived on site. After a walk-thru of the affected book stacks with the vendor and a discussion of the Court’s schedule with the Research Department Librarians we were able to prioritize our response. It is worth noting how important it is in a disaster to involve all library staff in the rescue process. In this instance the Research Librarians had a much better understanding of the Court’s needs than I did and were instrumental in helping to identify key tools that needed to be at the forefront of our remediation efforts. Since much of the affected materials were state codes that will be retained but superseded by newer editions and state reporter volumes, we knew that we did not want to invest a lot of money in any remediation response but that the books also needed to be treated in a way that would ensure their continued viability in the future.

A final factor to consider for us was the fact that the Court’s new term was only a month away and the Research Librarians felt that we could not be without the material for long. This time frame eliminated any sort of cold remediation (freezing) treatment for the material as that would take too long for our needs; accordingly we decided to employ a combination dehumidification and desiccant air drying option. With this decision made we began creating an inventory of materials to be sent off site and packing boxes for shipment to the vendor’s treatment facility.*

 Sample inventory of material sent for remediation

Post-op: On the following day, I arrived bright and early with doughnuts for everyone on staff; never underestimate the value of sugar coated fried dough as an expression of thanks for hard work and certainly everyone worked hard. I also arranged a de-briefing of participating staff from all levels of the library to evaluate what went well, what did not work and how we might need to tweak our disaster plan. When you are called to use your plan one of the best things you can do afterward is review what worked or did not and then adjust your plan accordingly.

Our books return: The books came back at the end of the second week of the Supreme Court term. Admittedly a bit crinkly but dry, mold-free and ready for use. I decided it was prudent before we sent the books to the shelves to remind library staff that we had paid for the material to be returned to a usable condition in as short a time frame as possible so while they may not look pretty they were all fully functional and stable. Using our shipping inventory (an inventory form or document should be a part of your disaster plan) we quickly re-sorted the material and got it back onto the shelves and available for use.

The role of the plan: We got through our first real disaster successfully. Our disaster response plan, although not finalized at the time of the sprinkler incident, proved to be an invaluable guide to our response. In the end we sent 530 individual volumes out for treatment. We disposed of approximately 200 volumes of various federal reporters and U.S. Reports, replacing those from back up sets that we had in off-site storage. We air dried a handful of less valuable and only slightly damp standalone supplements and directly purchased replacements for less than a dozen volumes.  Staff from all areas of the library and the Court worked together as a team to deal with the event and we were able, through the efforts of so many people, to return to use the important print resources that the Court relies on and we were able, guided by our plan, to do so in an efficient and cost-effective manner.  

Final thoughts

The series of disasters that represented the first few months of my new job brought home to me the importance of having a disaster plan in place and helped us to hone our response so that we can be  more efficient and better prepared the next time. With luck “next time” will never come but if it does we will be ready and with a well-thought out disaster plan your library will be too.

*For more on the desiccant drying process please see the useful description of disaster response options on the Lyrasis website at: http://www.lyrasis.org/Products-and-Services/Digital-and-Preservation-Services/Resources-and-Publications/Drying-Wet-Books-and-Records.aspx (last viewed 12/30/2011)

Advocating for Maryland Libraries: MLA Legislative Day in Annapolis

Joan Bellistri
Anne Arundel CountyPublic Law Library
Cas Taylor

Cas Taylor

The Maryland Library Association Maryland Legislative Day was held on January 25, 2012, a bit earlier than in years past.  The day began as always with a breakfast briefing in Anne Arundel County Public Law Library.  The breakfast, provided by LLAM, is always appreciated by the librarians who have traveled from across the state for the event.  Cas Taylor, former Speaker of the House and now lobbyist with the firm Alexander and Cleaver that represents the Maryland Association of Public Library Administrators, briefed the group on the issues before the legislature of significance to Maryland libraries.

After the briefing everyone headed to the State House where proclamations were read in both the Senate and House chambers.  The House even gave MLA president, Lucy Holman, an opportunity to speak.

The rest of the day was dedicated to delegate visits.  Librarians from most of Maryland’s counties visited their delegations to distribute information packets and talk about library issues.  With the Library Legislative Day being scheduled earlier in the session than usual, more delegates were available to meet with the librarians.  All members of the House and Senate and the Governor’s office were invited to the MLA reception.  As usual, this was a lovely event with librarians and members of library friends groups being able to talk with the legislators.  This year DLLR Secretary, Alexander M. Sanchez, addressed attendees and voiced his support for the DLLR /public library partnership in workforce initiatives.

Glennor Shirley and Mary Baykan

The number one issue this session involves the budget proposal to shift pension costs from the state to counties.  Although this proposal is most often seen as an issue that concerns teacher pensions, it would also affect public libraries.  Libraries are only a tiny percentage of the whole pension shift, yet such a move could have a large detrimental impact. There is a concern that since schools have the protection of maintenance of effort, the libraries would shoulder the burden of the pension shift.  Delegates were asked to see that library pensions not be shifted to the counties.  Other budget issues concerning libraries were capital funding for public libraries and the per capita funding.  Librarians asked their representatives to protect both of these sources that are essential in the continued operation and growth of Maryland public libraries. As of this writing, it has not been recommended that the capital funding be removed from the budget.

There were bills introduced, SB858/HB1001, that did not concern funding of libraries. These bills would designate public libraries as essential services in times of emergencies. This bill will make public libraries  among those public services that Maryland’s Emergency Management Administration (MEMA) will list as a priority in getting services restored and funds allocated. Both of the bills have passed.

It is always a relief when there are no bills introduced that would affect law libraries adversely.  Still, it is nice to know that if there were such a bill that the MLA Legislative Panel is there to address it.  We will look to MLA for support if  UELMA is introduced in Maryland.

LLAM members who attended Maryland Library Day at the Legislature this year were Joan Bellistri of the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library, Monica Clements of Legislative Services, Susan Herrick of the University of Maryland School of Law, Mary Jo Lazun of the Maryland State Law Library, and Vicky Yiannoulou of the Prince George’s County Public Law Library.

Vicky Yiannoulou, Susan Herrick and Mary Jo Lazun

Ideas in Client Service: Lean Techniques for Law Libraries

By Monique LaForce
Corporate Intelligence Analyst
Steptoe & Johnson LLP

“The use of the term “Lean”, in a business or manufacturing environment, describes a philosophy that incorporates a collection of tools and techniques into … business processes to optimize time, human resources, assets, and productivity, while improving the quality level of products and services … [for] customers.”[i] Traditionally, Lean techniques have been applied to streamline manufacturing operations by eliminating waste from repeatable processes, but in the October 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Bradley R. Staats and David M. Upton authored a piece analyzing the application of Lean principles to knowledge workers.[ii]  Staats and Upton maintain that Lean principles can be applied to knowledge work, even though many aspects of it are not repetitive (unlike, say, an assembly line at a widget factory).  Staats and Upton argue that Lean techniques can make knowledge work (like that performed by law librarians) more efficient and more predictable, and thus, provide better client service for patrons.

While Staats and Upton discuss many Lean techniques in their article, a few that may be applied to law libraries include:

Eliminate waste in routine, repeatable activities. 

While each research project undertaken by a law library’s research team is unique, the process by which queries are received, logged, and disseminated generally has routinized aspects that might be standardized to eliminate waste.  Other law library processes could also be streamlined.  Are there multiple access points for reporting time spent on projects?  For example, in some law firm libraries, librarians bill their time via a time entry program, but also separately report on projects to a department head.  Could these processes be combined? Is equipment used by librarians and patrons located to maximize efficiency?  For example, in a law school library, are photocopiers located near collections that patrons must frequently photocopy (such as historic materials that are not available electronically), or are they in an area that requires users to travel long distances laden with materials for copying (and which subsequently need to be taken back by the library staff for re-shelving)? 

Make tacit knowledge explicit. 

Waste can be eliminated by ensuring that the wheel is not reinvented for every similar project.  Librarians implicitly recognize this by creating research guides or pathfinders.  Likewise, legal project management seeks to tame this area by creating timelines and decision trees for various legal proceedings (from real estate closings to complex litigation).  Commercial databases that gather data (such as information about transactions, or clauses in various contracts) and attempt to create accumulated knowledge also seek to eliminate waste, as do KM systems, which allow retrieval of past work upon which to base current projects.  Are there internal law library functions that might benefit from similar processes to avoid recreating past work?

Use communications effectively.

Effectively managing communications may increase efficiency in the law library.  In their article, Staats and Upton suggest, for example, that implementing guidelines as to whom to copy on emails can eliminate waste, by culling unnecessary time spend reading irrelevant communications — time that could be better spent serving clients.  Additionally, guidelines for the method of communication between librarians and patrons might also create more streamlined processes.  For example, it may be more efficient for researchers to refrain from sending results on a rolling basis, unless specifically requested, to reduce the volume of email requestors receive and the chances that results may be buried in the vast tide of correspondence faced by lawyers on a daily basis.  

 While Lean techniques are not universally applicable to knowledge workers, the fundamental idea behind Lean – elimination of waste – may be helpful in improving client service in the law library.  

[i] Lean Manufacturing and the Toyota Production System, R. Becker, http://www.sae.org/manufacturing/lean/column/leanjun01.htm.

[ii] Lean Knowledge Work, B.R. Staats and D. Upton, Harvard Business Review, October 2011,  pp. 100-110. 

Maryland’s People’s Law Library Seeks Contributors

This spring, the People’s Law Library (PLL) will begin its annual review of site content. PLL needs editors and writers to assist with maintaining our award-winning website. Contributing to PLL is an excellent opportunity for librarians to assist pro se litigants throughout the state. With over 1.3 million hits per month, PLL is one of the most effective ways to reach out to those in need. Volunteers are welcome to edit existing content or to submit new articles.

For over a decade, PLL has provided easy-to-understand legal information to Marylanders in need. Containing hundreds of pages covering a broad array of legal topics and a legal services directory, PLL is a vital resource promoting access to justice in Maryland.  Since receiving the site in 2007, the Maryland State Law Library has continuously expanded PLL’s content and has significantly redesigned its layout and navigation. In 2011, PLL was honored with the American Association of Law Libraries’ Innovation in Technology Award and the Herbert S. Garten Public Citizen Award from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation.

PLL has over 900 pages of content on a variety of legal topics including: Consumer Law, Criminal Law, Education, Elder Law, Employment, Family Law, Government Benefits, Health Law, Housing & Landlord/Tenant Law, Wills/Estates/Probate, and Youth Law. In addition, PLL maintains a calendar of workshops and clinics for self represented litigants. LLAM members are welcome to promote events at their libraries through the calendar.

If you have materials to share on PLL, if you would like to write an original article, or if you wish to edit existing content, please contact Michael Craven, People’s Law Library Web Content Coordinator at 410. 260.3708 or Michael.Craven@mdcourts.gov. Also, Michael can send PLL brochures or posters for your library.

New! Maryland Law Firm Publications Search

The Maryland State Law Library is pleased to announce a new tool for local legal research, Maryland Law Firm Publications Search.  This new feature, simple in design and functionality, is comprised of a specialized Google search utility, which indexes the publications pages of the websites of the largest Maryland law firms. It is available from the “Maryland”  link  on the Library’s Databases page.

According to its collection development policy, the Library strives to collect as many Maryland legal publications as possible. In recent years, of course, the advent of the web has enabled corporate and individual authors the ability to publish their own law-related content. This seems to be especially true of area law firms, which have generated a copious number of articles, client alerts, and newsletters that contribute to an improved understanding of Maryland law. When one considers that the focus of many of these communications is the client, it is easy to see that these resources’ greatest value may be in the straightforward explanations and language the authors use.  The difficulty for a library in collecting this useful material; however, is that its quantity makes cataloging and acquisition challenging. Because the Library presumes that these materials are copyrighted, digital archiving also is not feasible. Therefore, the Library chose to implement this search tool in an effort to better highlight these beneficial resources.

The search utility points to one or more pages of a website that contains links to individual documents. In some cases, a firm may include resources about the law in other jurisdictions, so while there is significant local content, Maryland materials are not included exclusively. The Library does not make any selections based on the firms’ online information offerings. Rather, the Library will update the lists of law firms and links frequently.

The Library appreciates any feedback or suggestions that the local law library community might have about this new feature. Please send your comments to lawlibrary@mdcourts.gov

Ideas in Client Service: Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless*

By Monique LaForce
Steptoe & Johnson LLP


The final month of Q4 is often a time for old chestnuts – like stories about hair combs and pocket watches, and memories of Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifles.  The time seemed ripe to review ideas from the pages of the very popular Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, written by Jeffrey Gitomer in 1998 to guide sales representatives in retaining customers.  In the book, Gitomer takes a practical approach to customer retention  – noting that even though customers (or, for librarians, patrons) may appear to be at times overbearing and demanding (among other attributes), they are the source of our paychecks, and thus are always deserving of superlative customer service.

Gitomer argues that clients want five things from those that serve them:

1. Know Me.  As the library ceases to be a physical space, librarians can leverage our (primarily) electronic interactions (e.g., e-mail, social media) with our clients to know who they are (literally their names, but also what types of research they require, what their practices focus on, and what their expectations are for deliverables).

2. Understand Me.  For librarians, understanding our clients requires determining the needs of our particular client populations (e.g., law students, lawyers, law professors, the general public).  Are we focused on providing research and analysis that our clients actually value, or do we provide service and access to materials that we think they might value?

3. Lead Me.  With the disintermediation of access to information, clients perform more primary research in far more databases and sources than ever before.  With the increasing cacophony in the marketplace, are librarians taking the lead in vetting and recommending sources?  Do we understand the intricacies of these databases — their limits and benefits?  Are we sorting through irrelevancies and noise to lead our clients to accurate information that is appropriate to their needs?

4. Help Me.  Are our libraries appropriately staffed to provide the correct level of service to clients?  Do we have a standard protocol for how we respond to requests?  Do we treat our patrons, as Gitomer suggests, as though they were our favorite celebrity, hero, friend, neighbor, or grandmother every time they seek our expertise?

5. Serve Me the Way I Expect to be Served — Now.  Technology, the media, and the immediacy of communications have contributed to increased expectations as to the speed with which patrons will receive answers to their questions.  As librarians, are we attuned to these expectations?  Do we, as part of our reference interview, ask probing questions to determine what the particular client’s definition of “now” is?  For an attorney faced with filing a response to a motion for a TRO, “now” might mean something different than it does for a faculty member drafting a law review article.  As librarians, are we managing our clients’ expectations on the realities of obtaining information?  We might be able to provide a federal trial court docket sheet immediately, but may not be able to provide English language copies of the laws of a particular province in China on the same timetable.

In summary, during the hustle and bustle of end-of-the-year budgeting, exams, and business development, it may be useful to take stock of some classic customer service ideas.  New Year’s resolutions are just around the corner, after all.

*Ideas and quotations for this article are drawn from 1998’s Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless by Jeffrey Gitomer.

Embedded Librarians – January 10 at Noon

Claire Twose and Blair Alton from Welsh Medical Library, Johns Hopkins
Tuesday, January 10th Noon
Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander, LLC
233 East Redwood Street Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Third floor

Many librarians are moving out of their libraries and actually working on-site with their users. Claire Twose and Blair Alton from the Welsh Medical Library at Johns Hopkins will discuss their experience as embedded librarians including setting up an embedded librarians program and the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of service delivery model.


For validated parking please park at:
Arrow Garage – Located at 204 E. Lombard Street (preferred)
Renaissance Hotel Gallery Garage – Entrances are located on Calvert Street or South Street between Pratt and Lombard Streets.

EasyBib: More than just citation management

By Mark Desierto
Systems Librarian
Venable LLP

Looking for an inexpensive holiday gift to give to that college student that doesn’t enjoy citing sources as much as you do?

EasyBib (www.easybib.com) is an online bibliography generator that helps users search for websites, books, or other materials and create citations for those sources, formatted to MLA standards (for free) or to APA or Chicago styles (for a fee). Once the bibliography is complete, EasyBib offers a nice range of output options, including export to Word or Google Docs.

Based on some thoroughly unscientific testing, EasyBib performs at its best on website sources. It pulls in article title, author, and date information at the push of a button. For journals (print or online) or other more traditional research formats, however, EasyBib is a little less intuitive. It is hard to say what bibliographic indices EasyBib is searching, and the ranking is a bit confusing; a search for a recent Law Library Journal article yielded a hodgepodge of results.

Nonetheless, when EasyBib cannot find a source and generate its citation automatically, it offers a handy guided form for entering the necessary bibliographic details, then outputs the citation to one of the major citation styles. So a user is no worse off than had she or he used Microsoft Word’s native citation tools or any other online bibliography guide (e.g., Son of Citation Machine).

EasyBib, which has been available for about five years, now also offers to institutional/school partners a suite of research and information literacy tools, including virtual notecards, footnote, and parenthetical formatting output options, and even guidelines for website evaluation. (These premium features were not reviewed.)

Don’t put the Bluebook or ALWD away just yet, though: EasyBib does not offer legal citation formats in the free or premium version. But for wading through the rest of the citation universe, EasyBib is a fast, friendly tool.

MLA style only: Free
APA, Chicago style and additional tools: $4.99/month, $14.99/6 months, $19.99/year; institutional rates also available
iPhone app: Free

150th Anniversaries for both GPO and Foreign Relations of the United States

By Pat Behles
Gov. Docs. & Reference Librarian
University of Baltimore Law Library

Government Printing Office

If you happen to be in Washington over the holidays, stop into the Government Printing Office  (732 North Capitol Street, NW).  A GPO history exhibit now showcases work produced by employees since the agency opened for business, 150 years ago.

GPO opened its doors for business on March 4, 1861, the same day as President Lincoln’s inauguration. Since then, GPO has produced countless historic publications for the Government, including the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as the vast range of documents that Americans have used for generations, such as passports, social security cards, census forms, and tax forms. The exhibit also depicts the technological transformation that has always been a part of GPO’s past and has paved the way for future direction.

As part of the exhibit, GPO is displaying an original printed copy of the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1862, GPO printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation in general orders format issued as an order from President Lincoln in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. GPO printed 15,000 copies for the War Department, which were distributed to military commanders and their troops, as well as diplomats in foreign countries. The displayed copy at GPO, on loan from the Library of Congress, contains a printer’s proofing marks; those corrections were made in the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation issued in 1863.

For those not able to make the trek to the nation’s capital, there are two links that provide a snapshot of history.

The first has a slideshow of the exhibit: http://www.fdlp.gov/component/content/article/19-general/977-150years

From GPO’s homepage,  you can also access a short video that shows the exhibit and highlights history.

From the GPO’s website: “Keeping America Informed: The U.S. Government Printing Office: 150 Years of Service to the Nation tells the story of GPO’s history through text and photographs, many never published before. Its authoritative text and unique images depict the enormous contribution of its employees, past and present, to the well-being of the American people and nation.”

One of the latest offerings from the GPO is available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).  The electronic version of President Richard Nixon’s 1975 grand jury testimony related to the Watergate investigation is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-NARA-WSPF-NIXON-GRAND-JURY-RECORDS/content-detail.html

Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS)

In addition to the 150th anniversary of the Government Printing Office, it is also the 150th anniversary of the series Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS). The series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions. The series began in 1861 and now comprises more than 400 individual volumes. The FRUS series provides an indispensable resource for American citizens and others around the world who seek to understand U.S. foreign policy and strategic planning, international relations, economic affairs, and transnational social and cultural developments.  The series has become a leading example of governmental openness and embodies the U.S. Government’s commitment to responsible transparency.

Over the past 150 years, FRUS evolved to become the official documentary history of U.S. foreign policy decision-making and major diplomatic activity. The series is prepared according to scholarly best practices under a 1991 Congressional mandate for “thorough, accurate, and reliable” coverage and timely release. The Office of the Historian at the Department of State is exploring the story behind FRUS to uncover how it became both an invaluable information resource and a leading example of the U.S. Government’s commitment to openness.

Titles include national security, individual countries like Vietnam (and the conflict), Japan and Korea to name just a few.

Who would have thought that a government document would make headline news?  But the 1955 release of the official records of the Yalta conference was headline news around the world. Also, leading U.S. historians accused the State Department of manipulating history as the Cold War ended.

Recent publications are distributed to federal depository libraries in paper and electronic format.  For a list of recent and planned publications see http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/status-of-the-series.

Two Cats, a Guy, and a Law Library: Learning a New Law Library in a New State

By Kurt Meyer
Research Librarian

Chastek Library, Gonzaga University School of Law

As many of you know, I left the University of Maryland for a job in the Northwest last June.   I loved working at Maryland, my first job out of library school, but it was time to move on.  So my two cats and I trekked across the country in my little Mazda and eventually landed in Spokane, Washington, the home of Gonzaga’s Chastek Law Library.  During the journey, the cats primarily seemed to be concerned with escaping from their carrier, crying, and smelling every single thing in each of our five hotel rooms.  But along the way, when I wasn’t distracted by tortured meows from my pets, I started to think about the challenges I would face when starting my new job.  Since learning the Thurgood Marshall Law Library was a memorable challenge, I thought about how I could use my experience there to more efficiently learn a new library in a new state.

1.        Every Library Has Its Quirks

In my first week, my new boss Pat Charles gave me tour of my new library and, as a result, I had a lot of questions.  This is because the Chastek Law Library, like any other, has its own unique set of quirks.  For example, we have two reading rooms.  One has legal treatises and the other has Washington materials.  We also have similar materials on reserve and on the third floor, which is admittedly confusing.  Pat emphasized to me that I would need to pay close attention to these details when working the reference desk, otherwise I would likely send patrons to the wrong places or take too long.  To compensate, I spent a lot of time on my own browsing the shelves to learn where everything was.  I even compiled a list of key materials and forced myself to physically find them in the library.

My first reference shifts at Chastek went more smoothly than when I first arrived at Maryland as a newly minted law librarian.  I remember having problems with locations there, and that was because I didn’t take the initiative to find the physical locations of key resources before I had to.  I consider this to be one of the most important parts of learning a new library.

2.          Learn the Catalog

Right now you’re probably saying, “Well of course I know to do that.”  But I really wanted to know the catalog inside and out.  One of my first projects in my new job was to use the catalog to find all of our BNA materials, list them, and then talk to acquisitions to see if we had standing orders.  This project was given to me for two reasons:  First, no one else wanted to do it and, second, it would help me learn the catalog.

Without going into all the details, I have to say doing this really helped a lot.  I learned about the catalog and its quirks.  Again, I feel like this went a lot more smoothly than when I arrived at Maryland in 2007.  Don’t get me wrong, I learned that catalog well.  But I did most of it while I was working reference, so it was a little stressful at times.  Having a large project like this to immerse me was a much better way to do it.

3.        Learn the New State

This was really important to me.  Nothing will frustrate patrons more than when you start asking them questions about law.  Determined to hit the ground running, I came up with an idea for how to learn Washington law and government in a hurry.

I came up with what amounted to a Washington legal research exam for myself.  I forced myself to research everything from landlord-tenant law to sales taxes and then did legislative history research when appropriate.  I asked my fellow librarians for help only when I was completely stumped, knowing that I learn more when I figure things out for myself.  Then I put together an informal write-up of my research process just as I’ve had my students do in the past.

I cannot fully articulate how helpful this was.  Instead of having these issues come up at the reference desk and then having to call for help, I got this out of the way when it was convenient.


I started work at the Chastek Law Library on July 11.  I had a little over a month before the students returned, but I was slammed with research requests from faculty and projects at the outset.  Even though I did not have a lot of time, I made it a point to learn my new library and new state.  I tried to keep the fact I’d have a steep learning curve in mind at all times.  I also was not afraid to ask questions, even stupid ones.  I hope some of these tips, which for the most part are the product of experience, can help someone else who changes libraries and/or states.

AALL Program Review: Peeping Thomas: A Little Look at a Big System

By Pat Behles
Gov. Docs. & Reference Librarian
University of Baltimore Law Library 

This program on Thomas was organized and presented by staff of the Law Library of Congress, including speakers Tammie Nelson and Andrew Weber.

Thomas, an online portal for legislative information, was launched at the direction of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public.  Full-text coverage begins with the 101st Congress (1989-90) and bill summaries from 1973 and congressional reports from 1995. Roll call votes, House Floor This Week, House Now, calendars, Congressional Record, treaties, presidential nominations and daily digests are all features. Searching for legislation across one or multiple congresses is also possible.

Among the new updated features covered in the program were: top 5 bills, contact information, feedback options, inclusion of years with the session numbers (Yea!), more search and browse options, better headers and navigation, and links to equivalents in the states (if they exist).

The speakers also addressed what is planned for the future, including direct links to congressional legislators and legislation and archives of congressional websites.

There will be a new system in 2014 for which suggestions are being sought. The backfile will eventually become part of the Century of Lawmaking.  (Both are maintained by the Library of Congress).  The Library of Congress is working with GPO to digitize the permanent edition of the Congressional Record. To facilitate the archiving of committee websites, clerks have been directed to standardize formats.

The presenters will be updating information as it becomes available about the plans.

Featured Articles – September 2011

AALL Annual Meeting Picture Gallery

LLAM Dine Around in Philadelphia

 LLAM’s 2011 Annual Meeting Grant Recipient Reports  on AALL in Philadelphia

AALL Program Review: The New Generation of Legal Research Databases: Eighteen Months Later

AALL Program Review:  Copyright Hell: Sites to Get You Out of the Inferno

AALL Program Review: “Can the FCC Regulate the Internet?”

AALL Program Review: Advocacy at AALL 2011

AALL Program Review: PLL Change as Action Summit

AALL Program Review: Value of a Public Law Library

AALL Program Review: Peeping Thomas: A Little Look at a Big System

AALL Program Review: Advocacy at AALL 2011

By Joan Bellistri
Anne Arundel County Public Law Library

There were a number of opportunities for learning about AALL’s Advocacy efforts at the meeting and conference held in Philadelphia this summer.  There was a half day training on Saturday, “Legislative Advocacy Training 2011: Turning Challenges into Opportunities,” two programs, “AALL Public Policy Update: Shining the Spotlight on Advocacy” and “Authentication: The Evolution Continues,” and the Chapter Leadership Roundtable on Government Relations.  I was able to attend all but the Authentication program that was scheduled during the same time slot as the program I was moderating.  (I do plan to take advantage of AALL2go for this program later.)

The advocacy and public policy programs concerned issues of significance to AALL and law librarians and provided strategies for advocating for these issues.  We were able to meet Julie Strandlie, the new Director of Government Relations, who with Emily Feldman, Advocacy Communications Assistant, began the Saturday morning advocacy training with advocacy strategies.  Emily and Julie are AALL’s lobbyists who advocate for us in Washington, D.C.  However, members are needed to aid in their advocacy efforts as the opinions of constituents are of more significance to our representatives at the state and federal levels of government.  When we personally contact our representatives, we can make more of an impression than a lobbyist.  Ways of contacting our representatives should include in-person visits, the number one way to get your message heard, individual phone calls, letters and e-mail. It is always helpful to know the staff of the representative and it was suggested that we poll our chapter members to see who might have such contacts.  It is important that it be determined who knows whom before a crisis.  It would be good to know which members reside in which legislative districts so that they can be easily called upon when needed.

The rest of the training dealt with the issues for which we are encouraged to advocate and updates on legal information policy and programs.  Legal information issues were further detailed at the Monday morning program.  Federal level issues mentioned include GPO, FDLP and the Library and Law Library of Congress funding, section 215 of the Patriot Act, Net Neutrality, copyright, and PACER.  Other issues such as the Uniform Electronic Legal Information Act  must be dealt with on the local or state level while some issues such as  citation format  and the work of the AALL Working Groups on the national inventory could be considered national issues to be tackled at both the federal and local level.  I will report on just some of the issues and topics covered at the programs I attended.  I encourage members to become acquainted with AALL’s Advocacy pages for more detailed information on these and other issues of importance to law librarians.

As a part of the advocacy training, Larry Meyer, Director of the Law Library for San Bernardino County in California, reported on the PACER pilot project in which his library is participating.  This program is designed to educate the public on the use of and access to PACER.  San Bernardino has created training guides describing PACER and providing instructions on creating a PACER account.  Leslie Street, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Law Library, talked about the creation of PACER training and resource guides  that provide information on setting up PACER accounts, performing simple searches and a description of PACER and its scope.

After our AALL Working Group worked so hard on our Inventory of Maryland Legal Materials it was good to hear what the results of this project might be.  Tim Coggins, 2010 Chair of DALIC, reported on some of the findings so far.  There has been no change in the number of authenticated legal materials since the 2009-2010 report found on the Digital Authentication page of AALL’s Advocacy pages. (I should  mention that  DALIC or the Digital Access to Legal Information Committee is the new name for ELIAC or the Electronic Legal Information Access & Citation Committee.)  More online publications have been designated as official since that 2009 report.  It was found that 25 states now have a copyright on their digital material.  There are some states that have made provisions for preservation and permanent pubic access. The inventory shows a trend to charging for access to online versions. Other trends found more states making the digital version the official version and restrictions on commercial use and use affecting privacy.  Emily Carr, the Federal Inventory Coordinator, reported on the Federal Inventory that is modeled after the state inventory.  The data collected from the inventories will be used to update AALL reports on authentication and permanent public access.  The data will be shared with the Law Library of Congress as they build law.gov.  It must be noted that the inventory is an ongoing project and volunteers will be needed to check links and update the spreadsheets periodically.

The national inventory will provide important background information as members seek to have their states pass the new Uniform Electronic Legal Information Act.  Keith Ann Stiverson, AALL Observer to the NCCUSL Drafting Committee on the UELMA, briefed the group on the status of the Act.  UELMA had been approved by the Commission as of July, 12, 2011.  This approved version will be subject to style changes and the addition of new, revised comments. The Act provides a framework for authentication, preservation and permanent public access for online legal material.  The final version is expected soon and then the NCCUSL Enactment Committee will begin to act in all states.  I will be sure to notify LLAM members when the Act is introduced in Maryland.  Links to the Act and supporting information can be found on the Digital Authentication page of AALL’s Advocacy pages.

Although it was late in the day, LLAM was well represented by President, Sara Witman, and Vice President/President Elect, Mary Jo Lazun and me at the Chapter Leadership Roundtable: Government Relations.  The Roundtable provided a venue for new chapter leadership to become acquainted with AALL policy and strategies for local advocacy and to share advocacy ideas.  Participation in the roundtable, the training and the programs should provide me with a good base on which to begin a new year as Government Relations Chair.  I look forward to LLAM’s continued support in advocating for legal information issues.

AALL Program Review: Copyright Hell: Sites to Get You Out of the Inferno

By Katherine Baer
Maryland Collections & Reference Librarian
Maryland State Law Library

There was one session at AALL that gave some real nuts & bolts information on copyright called “Copyright Hell: Sites to Get You Out of the Inferno.”  This talk was delivered by George Pike, Director of the Barco Law Library at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and Steven Melmut, Informational Technology Services Librarian at the University of North Carolina School of Law.  They gave a nice introduction to copyright and then went into the finer points of fair use, researching copyright, and licensing.

Here are a few of the sites they recommended:

The Basics

US Copyright Office: www.copyright.gov

Copyright Laws: www.copyrightlaws.com

Fair Use

Stanford Copyright & Fair Use Center: fairuse.stanford.edu

Electronic Frontier Foundation: www.eff.org

Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office: copyright.columbia.edu/copyright


Stanford Copyright Renewal Database: collections.stanford.edu/copyrightrenewals

US Copyright Office Online Records Search: www.copyright.gov/records


Creative Commons: www.creativecommons.org

Copyright Clearance Center: www.copyright.com

Copyright Tutorials

Copyright Information Center: www.copyright.cornell.edu

LLAM Dine Around in Philadelphia

Nineteen LLAM members and guests gathered at Maggianos Little Italy in Philadelphia for our annual Dine Around.The fact that many LLAM members were able to attend AALL this year, and the proximity of the restaurant to the convention center, may have contributed to our excellent turnout. Maggiano’s is a jumping joint.Served family style, the food was abundant, and the company was naturally the best! A good time was had by all.

AALL Program Review: “Can the FCC Regulate the Internet?”

By Sara Witman
Research Librarian
Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander

Just about every AALL conference veteran will give you the same advice: wear comfortable shoes and go to at least one session that has nothing to do with your job.

This year, I finally followed the latter half of that recommendation, and I wish I had listened to it earlier; the program I took a gamble on was the most interesting and informative one I attended this year.

The Monday morning session, “Can the FCC Regulate the Internet?,” featured two panelists: Dan Brenner, a partner at Hogan Lovells US LLP and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School, and Markham Erickson, a founding partner at Holch & Erickson LLP and lead counsel to the Open Internet Coalition. Brenner and Erickson described the current legal situation of “network neutrality” in the United States. In essence, “network neutrality” would prevent Internet service providers or the government from restricting content or access to consumers. The speakers offered different viewpoints on how the issue may be (and possibly should be) resolved. Ryan Harrington, a reference librarian at Yale Law School, introduced the speakers, provided a background on the issues, and asked some first-class questions.

Basically, if I understand this correctly, the FCC got involved with the management of Comcast a few years ago. Comcast was discriminating against customers who were using BitTorrent, a service that uses a great deal of bandwidth. In April 2010, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of Comcast, and specifically that there was no statutory authority for the FCC to deal with “network management” on the Internet (see Comcast Corp. v. F.C.C., 600 F.3d 642).

Then, in December of last year, the FCC issued network neutrality rules. These rules cover three areas: the first states that a company must be transparent; the second prohibits blocking websites and applications such as Skype; the third prohibits discrimination.

The problem? The FCC rules are based on the same statutory authority that the D.C. Circuit said was insufficient. The rules have still not been published in the Federal Register; once they are, the lawsuits are coming right behind them, given the D.C. Circuit ruling.

Both speakers noted that, interestingly, Comcast had resolved its violation before the FCC decided to “take out the sledgehammer and iron maiden,” as Brenner eloquently put it, and pursue its case.

The speakers took very different stances on the FCC/network neutrality situation. Erickson works for Internet companies that provide content and want as little restriction as possible from consumers to that content. Brenner, on the other hand, thought that, in general, the FCC rules were a “solution in need of a problem,” since only two complaints have been filed on network neutrality and recent studies have shown that customers have been getting advertised Internet speeds. That said, Brenner stated that he does think that the general idea of network neutrality is important and that a company such as Comcast should not be blocking content based on what that content is or says.

The rules do not prohibit usage-based pricing. Erickson, who has represented Netflix, said that Netflix has worried publicly about this since they believe that usage-based pricing can be used against them in an anti-competitive way. For example, Comcast might charge more for heavy Internet users to ensure that customers won’t substitute Netflix for Comcast content.

Legislation could solve some problems surrounding network neutrality. However, Brenner points out that he doesn’t think “this Congress could pass an intelligent Internet law.” “It’s just not happening,” he said. “When you do get something, it’s about ordering the Commission to lower the sound of TV commercials. That’s what they’re able to pass.” Erickson agreed, “It’s really become so dysfunctional.” The House has already voted to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the net neutrality rules.

So where will this issue go next? Apparently, no one really knows. Since the rules haven’t been published, they can’t be challenged in court yet. Will the D.C. Circuit’s opinion be overturned, or will the case be tried in a different jurisdiction creating a split that would be decided by the Supreme Court? Is this a completely unregulated field? How much authority does the FCC have over Internet service providers?

Thanks to this fascinating program, I will be paying much closer attention to these questions and how they are answered in the coming months and years.