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Jane McWilliams, author of “Annapolis: City on the Severn,” gave a delightful presentation to LLAM members on May 14, 2012, at the Maryland State Law Library in Annapolis. What came as a surprise to many of us in the audience was that Jane is actually a former library staff member. Many years ago, Jane worked part-time for the Maryland State Library (the predecessor of the Maryland State Law Library) writing abstracts of articles from the old Maryland Gazette. In fact she members when Bernice Bernstein, who recently retired from Maryland State Law Library, was hired by the library’s director at the time, Mr. Moulter.
The idea of a comprehensive history of Annapolis was the brain-child of the “Annapolis History Consortium.” Jane, a member of the consortium, agreed to take on the challenge of writing a complete history of her hometown. Her goal was to tell the truth about Annapolis’s history but not in such a way that she would be “run out of town.” Although the genesis of the book was by committee, Jane takes full responsibly and credit for its content.
It was no surprise to learn that Jane found writing a 478-page book to be a challenge. After receiving a grant to start the research, Jane embarked on a quest both locally and nationally for any and materials available about Annapolis. Her final bibliography listed over 500 items. These included diaries, local histories, historical records, and even motion pictures.
The book begins with the Colonial period and ends in 1975. Jane decided to begin her writing and research with the Civil War period because it was the time period that she knew the least about. It was the last chapter, “The City Preserved, 1960-1975” that Jane found the most challenging to write since she had lived through the entire period.
Jane’s presentation lasted just under an hour but was followed by another 45 minutes of questions from the audience. Everyone who left the room gained an appreciation of the work involved in researching, writing, and publishing a local scholarly history.
It is membership renewal time. This year there is an an alternative way to pay. You can use Google Wallet, formally Google Checkout, to pay your membership dues by credit card. If a check works better for you, that works for us too. Here are the links you need:
Information about benefits of joining LLAM and links to the membership form and payment page.
LLAM Membership Form
If your info is the same as last year just fill out your name and write “same” on the top of the form. No need to fill out EVERYTHING again.
Pay either either via credit card or check. For details see:
Need more info? Contact membership chair Patricia Behles:
Address: University of Baltimore Law Library, 1415 Maryland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201
The Law Library Association of Maryland now has its own domain, here at llamonline.org. We decided to move our primary web site to a WordPress platform to provide us with greater flexibility and increase opportunities for collaboration.
For you the the visitor, we hope you find the site easier to navigate with the current information you need. A big thank you goes to Mary Jo Lazun for getting LLAM up and running on WordPress and designing the new site navigation scheme. Thanks also to Jenny Rensler who ported the content from the old site to the new one.
If you have any questions or comments please send Mary Jo an email or give her a call.
Mary Jo Lazun
President, Law Library Association of Maryland
mjlazun at gmail.com or mjlazun at mdcourts.gov
Spring Fling and Annual Meeting
Friday, May 4th from 5:00 till 8:00
This year’s Spring Fling and Annual Meeting will be at Nick’s Fish House and Grill in South Baltimore. We will have the entire Marina Room at our disposal with a light menu of sandwiches, quesadillas, including Nick’s signature jumbo lump broiled mini crab cakes. There will also be 2-drink tickets. The cost will be $20 per person. Ample parking is available onsite. Online payment will be available in mid-April.
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.