Posted in Technology

Blogging and Law Journals

My name is Ashley Ahlbrand.  I am a law school graduate of William & Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law, and am half-way through my pursuit of my master’s in library science at Indiana University-Bloomington.  With these two degrees in tow, I look forward to pursuing a career in law librarianship.

I have just wrapped up a summer course in emerging technologies for libraries.  As a part of this course, we each gave a presentation on a technology of our choice; I chose blogging for libraries.  To be honest, I chose this technology because I have always been something of a blog-skeptic.  However, I also knew that blogging has become very popular in libraries, and I was intrigued to find out why.  As I learned, blogging can be an excellent way of reaching out to your patrons, and serves as a convenient medium for conveying information about the library, such as highlighting existing resources, announcing new acquisitions, and reminding patrons of the various services the library has to offer.  Additionally, hosting one’s blog on a platform like WordPress or Blogger also endows one with many other dynamic features besides the journal-like posting page most people think of when they envision a blog.  In particular, I loved the idea of being able to create static pages on one’s blog that could host information or resources that the blog’s readers might be interested in.  Yes, it is safe to say that, after completing my presentation, I was something of a blog-convert!

In fact, I was so excited about the potential of blogs that I decided to utilize this technology for my final project in this course.  The premise was simple: in a library setting of your choosing, identify a problem that needs to be addressed, and use an emerging technology to address it.  Because of my ambition to be a law librarian, I wanted to work with a problem at a law school.  Specifically, I decided to work with law student journals, and create a blog around that journal’s focused area of law.  In my fictional law school, I was working with a gender and family law journal.  The problems I sought to address were: (1) New journal members struggling to come up with note topics, and (2) The competitive nature of law school preventing law students from appreciating the value of collaborative research and resource-sharing.  I felt that the dynamic features of today’s blogging platforms could help me address both of these problems.

In addition to the traditional posting page, I created five static pages: two provided information on the journal’s history and its annual symposium; the last three were meant to serve as e-pathfinders on gender law, family law, and legal writing and research resources.  I envisioned that posts to the blog would highlight new case decisions, laws, and news stories that affect gender and family law.  To relieve some of the burden from the librarian administrating the blog, I thought of asking the (fictional) editorial board to contribute at least one post per week; with approximately four members of the board, this would be a minimal burden, with each member contributing a brief post as infrequently as once a month.  Journal members would be able to contribute comments to these posts, and in this manner, the entire journal would have the opportunity to participate in a professional, ongoing conversation in law, while also receiving assistance in their own research needs.

A link to my project’s blog can be found here: http://lawlibrarystudent.blogspot.com.  This provides only a sample of what could be done with blogging for a law student journal; in practice, I think this technology could provide even greater benefits, not only as a resource of information, but as an avenue for furthering the professional conversation, truly engaging law students in discussion of the legal developments of the day.

If you have stuck with me through this initial, very lengthy, post, I thank you.  In the future I intend to post on other aspects of law librarianship as it exists today and where it is, or may be, headed tomorrow, as I continue exploring this professional world to which I am drawn.

Author:

I am the Assistant Director for Public Services at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law. My research interests include exploring how emerging and existing technologies can be used to enhance library services and legal education as well as how to address knowledge gaps and meet the educational expectations of today's law students.

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