Posted in AALL

Conference FOMO? How to Embrace What You Learned at AALL without Getting Overwhelmed by It

Well, it’s been several years now since I blogged here, but I’m bringing it back! I got a little busy, and the blog took a backseat, but for many reasons, I feel like I’m in a good place to bring it back to life, so here’s day one!

My renewed desire to blog was inspired in part by a session I attended at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) a couple of weeks ago (Just Write It: Embracing Your Inner Author). That meeting also inspired the subject of today’s post: FOMO – the fear of missing out.

I love continuing education. I love attending conferences and CLE presentations and getting inspired to make a large number of changes to my work life when I return home, whether that’s implementing a new tool, updating how I teach, or changing my workflow to be more productive. But lately I feel like another sensation rivals my excitement at conferences: FOMO. I hear about all these amazing things that other libraries and librarians are doing, and I start to feel… inadequate. Why does my library not do that? Are we falling behind the curve? Are we failing to adequately serve our patrons? Do we need to completely change our operational procedures?

As you likely know, FOMO is a term (or, really, acronym) inspired by the anxiety that social media can bring on, when you start comparing your life to others’ based on what people are posting about their own families/vacations/purchases/etc. I would argue (based on my own experiences) that conference FOMO can generate similar anxiety about work.

So what do you do? Stop going to conferences? No way! There’s a lot to be learned at conferences, and learning from your peers can help you make needed changes that will increase the value of your library’s services to your patrons. What we need to focus on is the inspiration conferences generate, while not allowing all that inspiration to overwhelm us.

My advice: focus on one or two small changes you’d like to bring to your library in the short-term, and place others on a longer-term to do list. That, at least, is my plan. I chose two small things I can focus on in my personal work this year, and one thing I’d like to try in my department. One of those small changes? Start blogging again! (Check) Another? Start getting to work an hour early (h/t Jamie Baker) to blog or work on other writing projects. Not everyone has that luxury, but it’s an easy adjustment for me. Today was my first day implementing that change as well. (Check) It’s 8:57, and my first blog post is almost done. And guess what? It’s very quiet at my library an hour before reference opens! This has been a very productive hour for me! I know it’s only day one, but by focusing on just a couple of initiatives I was fired up about at AALL this year, I (so far) feel inspired, rather than anxious. No mo’ FOMO!

Posted in AALL, Professional Development

Review and Reflection: AALL Annual Meeting, July 13-15, 2014

2014 AALL LogoLike so many of my colleagues, I have just returned from the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries.  In the past, I have ordinarily blogged at the end of each day, but I found my evenings a little too busy this year, so here’s my update, after a couple days’ pause to reflect.

Saturday, July 12th

W1: AALL Hackathon

I have never been to a hackathon before, but this did not disappoint.  Attendees – including law librarians and area IT professionals – broke into groups, selected datasets of government information, and attempted to create apps to make this data more accessible…in about eight hours.  My group chose to work with AALL’s Online Legal Materials site, specifically the fifty states’ inventories of government information accessibility.  Our biggest challenge, I think, was normalizing the data, as each state organized their information differently, some added extra categories information, and some seemed to leave certain categories out (some states’ info we couldn’t even access).  We also discovered that it can be a little difficult to communicate precisely what we’d like the app to do with the data to the programmer.  While we were unable to complete our project in the time allotted, we were certainly off to a good start, and I think we all agreed by the end that our project had significant value.  I would not be surprised if we continued to work on this project remotely, as all of us were quite invested by the end.

Sunday, July 13th

Keynote – Andrew Keen

It was okay, but he didn’t really know that much about law libraries, and though he had done a little research into the current state of the legal profession, he didn’t really tell us anything new.  I usually expect keynote addresses to be inspiring, and his was a bit of a downer – not a great way to start out a conference.  Nevertheless, he is well-spoken, very intelligent, and an engaging speaker.

B5: LibGuide Guidance: Innovative Uses for LibGuides

Ultimately, this session seemed geared toward beginners or those interested in pursuing LibGuides, so, having used LibGuides for awhile myself, I didn’t find it particularly innovative.  I was also surprised that the speakers were not discussing LibGuides2, the new platform, though it is quite new and not everyone has transitioned yet.  Nevertheless it did foster good discussion during the breakout session (although at my table our discussion focused on my experience migrating to LibGuides2), and I did come away with a few new ideas, such as creating personalized research portals for our professors.  I’ve done this for their research assistants and classes to be sure, but hadn’t really thought of it for the professors themselves.  I also thought the presenters did a great job of pulling examples of innovative guide usage from a wide array of library types, which is not an easy task, since LibGuides are predominantly an academic product.

Monday, July 14th

R2: Recharge: Next Level Leadership: Showcase What Really Defines You

The recharge sessions tend to bring in outside speakers to give a talk on professional topics, not necessarily law or library-related.  For instance, last year I attended an excellent session on giving dynamic presentations.  This year, I wanted to learn about the traits that make up a good leader.  Sara Canaday was our outside speaker, and while I wasn’t nearly as inspired as I was from last year’s recharge, I did walk away with helpful notes.  While she elaborated on each point in her talk, ultimately she focused on key components of a good leader – reflection (self-awareness), projection (how you come across to others in appearance and demeanor affects their reaction to you), connection (interpersonal skills), prioritization (focusing on specific skills you’d like to develop to become a better leader), and sustainability (setting up a system of checks and balances to make sure your skills development stays on track).

C3: Building Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance While Teaching Legal Research

Lately I’ve become quite interested in metacognition and learning science, so I thought this was a very compelling presentation. The speakers discussed the concept of grit, which they defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals, and how we might teach this to our law students.  The idea is that education is a lifetime pursuit: whether you’re in school or not – you’re always learning.  Often students become defeated if something isn’t immediately successful for them, so teaching them to appreciate the process and the journey of skill development could be key to success.  The speakers had us take a grit test to see how gritty each of us is – I was not surprised to see that I scored a very high grit score – and then they discussed the pros and cons of grittiness.  Ultimately, will I discuss grittiness with my legal research students?  Probably not.  But I think this session will inform my approach to teaching and my reaction to student perceptions of learning legal research.

D4: Cool Tools Cafe

I’ve never had the chance to attend the Cool Tools Cafe, and I guess technically I still haven’t.  For my first Cool Tools experience, I presented on Legal Research Apps.  I was warned that I would have a nonstop crowd at my station, and I was not disappointed.  In fact, I tried to get there 15 minutes early to set up, and there was already a full house!  Mine was an interesting station; theoretically, you presented on your tool for 10 minutes and then started over, but I had a list of potential tools to show, so instead I simply asked my audience which they’d like to see, and as my audience changed, I’d pose the question again.  In demoing my tools, I talked about the capabilities and limitations and gave my overall opinion of their usability.  I had wonderful feedback, both during the Cafe and in the remaining days of the conference – people kept coming up to me to thank me for my demonstration.  It was extremely gratifying, especially considering how exhausting the experience actually was!

Tuesday, July 15th

E1: Demonstrative Evidence, Courtroom Technology, and Trial Practice

This one started out a bit rough (especially for 8:30 in the morning!), with a review of many of the rules of evidence.  The speaker was well-versed on the subject, but it’s hard to make that topic lively!  From there, however, things picked up with the second speaker providing several great examples of the use of PowerPoint throughout the trial process, and why it actually is worth the effort.  I think often it’s easy to think that use of such visual aids is superfluous or flashy, meant to distract more than inform; however, the speaker – an attorney – discussed how these visual aids can help judges and juries understand the key points in a document, the critical facts in a case, the main elements of your defense, etc.  It’s not about distraction, but rather clarity.  There were only two disappointing things about this program for me: first, I had thought that they would discuss more technologies than PPT – in fact the second presenter kept mentioning PPT and ‘other trial presentation software,’ but never actually identified what those other trial presentation software programs were; second, the second speaker ran over time by so much that the final speaker wasn’t even beginning until the program was supposed to end!  Some people were able to stay and hear the final speaker, who remoted in via Skype, but many of us had other programs to get to, so we missed him entirely.  Panels can be very difficult to run on time, but timing is critical so that everyone gets a chance to speak.

Poster Sessions – “Communication Wheelhouse”

I presented a poster session this year based on the results of a survey I gave our students in April on the communication practices of the Law Library.  My session consisted of a poster displaying the results of the survey, as well as a smaller poster that showed a breakdown of our social media followers.  I also printed up a short report of these findings for anyone interested in a handout.  I have presented posters at smaller conferences in the past, but at such a large conference, I had far more foot traffic and very positive feedback and good discussion, both on the appearance of the posters and their content.  The posters are both available online: Communication Wheelhouse and Sidebar: Social Media Reach.

G6: Hot Topic: Beefing Up Your CV with Altmetrics

Katie Brown gave a version of this talk at the CALI conference this year, talking more about the theory behind altmetrics.  At her AALL presentation, she talked more about the tools to measure one’s altmetrics.  Having seen her first presentation, I was very much looking forward to the second one.  She showed several different tools, what each covers, and how to set them up.  She mentioned the benefits of measuring one’s altmetrics, and discussed how they can be helpful for both your own professional development and as a service to your faculty.  She was also careful to emphasize that altmetrics are not a replacement for other metrics and they should never be the sole tool you use when preparing your CV or tenure dossier.  Rather, altmetrics are another tool for your tenure arsenal, and must be carefully explained to demonstrate their importance.  They are simply a way to measure one’s impact in the modern invisible college.

H5: Law Librarianship in the Digital Age

It seems like there were several programs this year with titles similar to this.  I’ll admit my draw to this particular one was its format: eight speakers (in one hour!) presenting in pecha kucha style.  In this format, presenters had six minutes to present, and their presentations were accompanied by 18 slides, timed to transition every 20 seconds!  The idea is to generate a focused discussion of your subject.  The speakers chosen had each authored a chapter for a recent book, Law Librarianship in the Digital Age, so they spoke on their chapters.  Each did a reasonably good job of sticking to their allotted time, and having their talk flow along with the slide transitions.  It was certainly an interesting and entertaining format to watch, and while no one in the audience posed any questions of the speakers, I think this had less to do with the content than the fact that it was the very last program slot on the very last day of the conference!

Night Life at AALL

There are so many receptions these days that you either end up picking and choosing what to attend or double-and-triple-booking yourself.  Naturally, I attended the IU Alumni Reception, always a lovely time to catch up with friends and see where we’ve all ended up over the years.  Likewise, the LLJ/Spectrum Authors’ Reception is a great appreciation event that often brings you together with authors of articles you’ve loved over the past year.  This year, I will give a big tip o’ the hat to LexisNexis and ThomsonReuters for truly excellent events.  Lexis always has a lovely event – this year at the Institute of Texan Cultures – and it was great fun to see the entertainment they brought in, representing six different cultural music groups from around San Antonio.  I’ve only been to three ThomsonReuters/AALL Customer Appreciation events, but this year’s was by far the best.  I always go, because they usually pick some interesting off-site location, but admittedly I usually leave early, finding it too crowded and too loud (I know, being younger I’m supposed to love the wild-and-crazy, but I have more of a quiet-and-sophisticated preference).  This year’s event was at the Knibbe Ranch, so I knew I’d go just to see the locale, but figured I’d leave soon after arriving as usual.  Not the case!  This year’s event was fantastic!  First of all, they had a meal for us – not finger foods, but an actual, sit-down meal of Texas BBQ.  You could eat in the ranch house, where a country band was playing (and if you haven’t heard a deep-country rendition of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” you’re missing out!), in an outdoor tent, or out in the open.  They had a rodeo of barrel-racing, rope tricks, etc.  Most importantly, they ended with a fireworks display.  It was a great time, and they have a lot to live up to for next year!

All in all, the Annual Meeting did not disappoint.  I would prefer a few less breakout sessions during the programs – some of us really do just like to hear from the experts on the subject, rather than discussing with our neighbors every hour – and I would LOVE to see us go back to having Introductory/Intermediate/Advanced ratings on programs to help you choose what to attend.  Other than that, good show.  See you next year in Philly!

Posted in AALL, Professional Development

AALL Annual Meeting, Day Four

The Annual Meeting always seems to fly by!  I began today’s programming by attending G2: Meeting the Needs of Students and Their Future Employers: Discussions on Legal Research Instruction and Student Services Inspired by Practitioner Feedback.  Based on a recent ALL-SIS Task Force survey, Shawn Nevers of Brigham Young briefly surveyed the results of the survey for attendees and Maureen Cahill of the University of Georgia discussed how student services librarians could use these results to improve upon services to students.  The entire results of the task force survey can be found on the ALL-SIS website on AALLnet.  As with much of this year’s programming, the panelists spoke briefly and the remainder of the time was attendee group discussions.  What was neat about these breakout sessions, however, was that moderators at each table wrote down the table’s ideas, and the program coordinators will now gather all of these ideas and share them with the rest of us.

In the afternoon I attended H4: Emerging Technologies and Teaching for the 21st Century Librarian.  Discussing tools to use when presenting with your iPad and how to use now-familiar screencasting programs like Adobe Captivate and Camtasia to record lectures and tutorials for your patrons, presenters Stephanie Noble of the U.S. Courts 10th Circuit library and Jennifer Wondracek of the University of Florida left attendees with many great tools to try out when we get home.  

It’s always a little sad to see the Annual Meeting end, and it’s hard to leave such a lovely city, but it has been a great conference, I learned a lot, and I feel I’m headed back to Indiana armed with an arsenal of tools, tips, and tricks to better my teaching and service to our patrons.

I hope to see many of you again next year in San Antonio!

Posted in AALL, Professional Development

AALL Annual Meeting, Day Three

Another busy day at a conference that continues to offer enriching content to educate me to be a better librarian!

My day began early with the RIPS-SIS breakfast.  I want to thank RIPS-SIS again for awarding me a travel grant to aid with the expense of attending this year.  With one day still to go, this year has been very rewarding for me and I believe I will return to my library with a host of new tools and tricks to help me enhance my services to our patrons.

I hope many of you were able to attend – or at least get your hands on materials from – the Recharge session Own the Room: Presentations that Captivate and Win Over Any Audience.  Led by Steve Hughes (Twitter handle: @stevehughes) of Hit Your Stride, LLC, this presentation lived up to its name.  I left with copious notes and ideas for how I could improve my presentation style with any audience – faculty, colleagues, students.  Presenting us with simple, yet effective, strategies, Hughes really does convince you that anyone can become a better presenter, no matter their personality, no matter their fears of public speaking, no matter the subject they’re speaking on.  This was such a worthwhile program – just the kind I look for at conferences.  So thank you so much to Janet Hedin of Michigan State University College of Law for coordinating this fantastic program!

In the afternoon I attended E2: It’s 2013: Do You Know Where Your iPad Is?  Presented by a panel consisting of two court librarians (Julie Jones and Adriana Mark), two academic librarians (Debbie Ginsburg and June Liebert), and a firm librarian (Karen Helde), this program looked at how different types of law libraries (and their patrons) are using iPads today.  Since I work at a law school library that has a couple of iPads, I’ll admit that initially I was only looking to hear from academic librarians on their perspective, but in truth, even listening to this from an academic perspective, it was great to hear how iPads are being used in courthouses and law firms.  Because let’s face it: I may work mostly with faculty and students, but as those students graduate, they’re entering a legal world that is clearly using iPads; if I know how their future employers are using these devices, I, as an academic librarian, can help prepare them for what to expect.  It was great to hear from a diverse panel their unique experiences with the same device, and the program offered many ideas, tips, and cautionary tales to take away.

2013-07-15 17.22.28

As so often happens with Monday evenings at AALL, it was packed!  I began by giddily attending the Knowledge Mosaic/Lexis event at the Seattle Aquarium.  As always, this was a very classy event at a great location.  On behalf of aquarium enthusiasts everywhere, thank you so much, Knowledge Mosaic, for a great event!  I then attended the author reception at the conference center and the IU Alumni dinner at the Sheraton’s Daily Grill, two great opportunities to network and catch up with colleagues and old friends.  My evening ended with the Thomson Reuters/AALL-sponsored party at the EMP Museum.  As always, this party was loud!  But, another great location (and who doesn’t love live ’80s music?).  So thank you, Thomson Reuters/AALL, for throwing your event at another Seattle highlight that was fun to tour.From the program it looks like a lot of great events are still lined up for tomorrow, so Tuesday’s shaping up to be another busy one!  (Plus I still have to get my Westlaw caricature done!)  Enjoy the remainder of the conference!



(P.S. The photo is of the octopus at the aquarium – he seems to really like an audience!)

Posted in AALL, Government, Presentations

AALL Annual Meeting, Day Two

With the conference officially in full swing today, there was quite a lot going on.  This morning I attended program A-4: Social Media and Your Library: Strategies to Lead the Way.  This was a great panel discussion on the types of social media law libraries are using, both internally and externally, and it also identified some tools that can aid in social media management.  The panelists, Jennifer Murray of Maricopa County Superior Court’s Law Library, Kathleen Brown, of Oklahoma City University’s Law Library, and Steven Lastres of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP discussed their experiences with social media, providing a great look at how different types of law libraries use and manage social media in different ways.  (Ex: Twitter as a competitive intelligence tool?!?  Fascinating!)

A great takeaway from this program was the importance of putting in place a social media policy and strategy (and making sure the two are aligned).  While myriad emerging technologies exist that libraries could be playing with, you don’t want to dive into something just because it’s there: as with any library service, there should be a purpose behind the technologies you choose, and having a social media policy and strategy in place will help you determine what tools are best for your library.  As the resident “tweeter” and Facebook manager for our library, I can tell you how time-consuming social media can be.  You have to remember that it’s a service of your library; once it’s established, you need to maintain it, and this will take time.  This program was excellent for anyone thinking of diving into social media or even for those of us already in the thick of it.  If you didn’t have a chance to go, I would recommend accessing the slides from AALL2Go.

The other major programming event I “attended” today was our own!  B-8: State Constitutions: Current Historical, and How They Change was held at 2 o’clock today in front of a fairly crowded room.  I want to thank everyone who attended our program this afternoon, as well as my co-presenters, Jennifer Morgan and Cindy Dabney, and our moderator, Michelle Cosby.  I was so pleased with the turnout for our program; we have worked on it for quite a long time and were so glad to share it with our colleagues today.  I would also like to thank the GD-SIS for sponsoring our program.

For those of you who were unable to attend, our program discussed the challenges of state constitutional research.  While there are many finding aids on researching the U.S. Constitution, state constitutions can be more challenging, especially if you’re asked to research a state with which you are unfamiliar: there is no uniform method of state constitutional amendment, and different states produce and preserve different documentation along the way, which can be a struggle for researchers.  Our program, therefore, identified tools and documents to look for when researching the current or historical texts of state constitutions, or when researching amendment and revision processes within a state.  The program culminated by us revealing a 50-State research guide Jennifer created from research she and I compiled on state constitutions.

If you would like materials from our program, the handout is presently available on AALL2GO and at the print stations at the conference; our slides will be posted shortly.

With our program complete, I am looking forward to a restful sleep before a very busy day tomorrow.  I hope you’re all enjoying the conference!

Posted in AALL

AALL Annual Meeting, Day One

As promised, here’s my first post from day one of this year’s annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries.

While regular programming doesn’t begin until tomorrow, I began this year’s meeting by attending one of the day-long workshops: W2: Classroom Makeover – Renovate Your Class with Technology that Promotes Hands-On Learning.

Principally, we were talking about the flipped classroom approach to legal instruction.  I’ll be honest, I’ve attended several programs and read several articles this year on the flipped classroom, so I was less enthusiastic about this workshop than I had initially been when I signed up.  HOWEVER: This was a great workshop!  Yes, some of the material – such as the history of this method, the pros and cons, the ideal law school classes for using this method – I had already heard before.  But what’s great about workshops is the practical aspect.  The instructors – Jane Larrington and Judith Lihosit  of the University of San Diego – had us break into groups periodically throughout the day to plan our own flipped classroom.  (Anna Russell (who was also slated to lead this), you were missed, but they showed us a picture of your baby – adorable!  Congratulations!)  We were asked to bring along our own syllabi for a class we were going to be teaching so that we could work with our own curricula to see how we could apply this method to our teaching.

I especially appreciated the progressive nature of these exercises.  We began by picking one of our planned lessons and identifying a learning objective that we could better teach through a flipped approach.  In another breakout session we then identified what material from that lesson would be out of class and what would be in class.  We later designed exercises that we could do in class with this lecture.  And later attendees learned how to narrate PowerPoint slides in order to create the pre-class lecture portion of a flipped lesson.  (I missed this last portion, having to leave early for a committee meeting.)

While I had been feeling “flipped-out” before attending this workshop, I am so grateful for having been able to attend – the exercises and discussion made the idea of flipping my own teaching seem much more tangible.

As with many conference attendees, I next attended the Exhibit Hall opening.  I always enjoy the vastness of the Exhibit Hall the first time I walk in each year – it’s hard to imagine we have that many vendors to choose from, and I love seeing what’s new or in development each year.  (Will Westlaw have a caricaturist again this year?  I guess we’ll see…)  🙂

In addition, our library (at IU’s Maurer School of Law) received an award this year for Excellence in Marketing – Best Use of Technology; award recipients had a photo-op at the Exhibit Hall this evening, and it was nice to see my colleagues commemorated for their hard work.  The award was based on a video, “Law Library Infomercial,” that Cindy Dabney, our Outreach Services Librarian, created last year:

It’s shaping up to be a great conference this year.  My calendar has certainly filled up.  Though I do hope to see a little of the city before I leave – what I’ve seen so far is just beautiful.  See you around!

Posted in AALL, Government, Presentations, Research

AALL bound

As with so many of my colleagues across the country, I am Seattle bound today to attend the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). As one of those people who actually loves professional development, I always look forward to this conference (and it doesn’t hurt that it’s always held in a major city, often one I’ve never been to!).

This year is especially exciting for our library, as many of us are actively involved with the conference in some way. Our library is receiving an award for Excellence in Marketing – Best Use of Technology for a video Cindy Dabney, our Outreach Services Librarian, created marketing the reference office. In addition, two of us – Mike Maben and Michelle Botek – have posters to show in the exhibit hall. I believe Mike’s is at position #1 and Michelle’s is at position #15.

Finally, Jennifer Morgan, Cindy, and I are co-presenting on Sunday – we’d love to see you there! Our session is B8: State Constitutions – Current, Historical, and How They Change. It is slotted for Sunday at 2. We will be discussing the challenges of researching state constitutions and amendments, and a tool Jennifer created as a research aid in this area. This program has a long history, beginning with a guest lecture Jennifer gave for the Indiana Solicitor General’s course at Maurer Law on State Constitutional Law. He asked her to give this as a presentation to the Indiana Deputy Attorneys General as well, a presentation that was turned into a CLE. At this point, Jennifer and I began compiling research on the constitutional processes of the fifty states and the documentation available in each state to aid this research. Jennifer compiled this research into a research guide on our library website, available to all. Jennifer, Cindy, and I have given this presentation to Indiana librarians a couple of times this year, and we are thrilled to share it with our colleagues from across the country this weekend.

I hope to see many of you at the conference. I would like to thank RIPS-SIS, the Research, Instruction, and Patron Services Special Interest Section of AALL, for awarding me a travel grant to assist me in attending this conference this year. I truly appreciate it.

I will be blogging throughout the conference, so look for more posts to come!

Posted in AALL, Outreach, Social Media, Technology

It’s Good to Feel Needed!

This has been a good week.  The Twitter account continues to get new followers on an almost daily basis; I published the LibGuide I was creating on legal apps so that our patrons can access it from our Resource Guide page; and I have begun playing around with the IU course management system, Oncourse.

I was excited to see that, though I do not have my own course this Fall, I could still get a practice Oncourse site to explore.  From my own IU education, I knew there were a plethora of features available on Oncourse, from forums to email to wikis and more, but I suspected that faculty do not use all of these resources, and may not even know the range of resources Oncourse provides; thus my interest in playing with it!  Today, that experimenting paid off in spades.  Two people approached me today asking about the features of Oncourse.  I walked them both through my site, showed them things I had already tried, such as modules and quizzes, as well as other interactive features such as wikis, blogs, and chat rooms.  I later heard that one of these individuals had been very pleased to learn about all that Oncourse can do, so I am so glad that I brought it up in the initial meeting.

One of the individuals I follow on Twitter had tweeted about an article on Android apps for lawyers.  This sparked my interest in getting my LibGuide on law-related apps published – I have been working on it and editing it for a couple months – so I did just that and advertised it on our Twitter account (which also syncs with our Facebook account).  The other librarians were pleased to see that I had published it and we will be formally announcing it to our non-tweeting faculty in a week or so.

While these are all little things, this was my first experience having others approach me for guidance in my specialty area or suggest that work I had done should be announced to law school community.  It really made me feel like I had a true place at this school, and gave me the confidence to know that I can do this job, and I can do it well.
Next – off to Boston for the AALL Annual Meeting!  I’ll tell you all about my experiences next week!

Posted in AALL


Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to get to attend CONELL, the Conference for Newer Law Librarians, a part of the American Association of Law Libraries’ Annual Meeting.  This year’s conference was held in Philadelphia; having only been to this city once before, I was quite excited about the location choice!

I was hesitant to go to CONELL this year, because I will not graduate until May, and I had heard that most new law librarians attend the conference for the round robin interviews, most of which are for jobs beginning in August.  However, after talking to several law librarians at IU’s law library, all of whom continually encouraged me to attend, I decided to follow their advice.  Even though I was only able to stay for the day of CONELL, while all other CONELL attendees, it seemed, were staying for the duration of the Annual Meeting, I believe CONELL to have been well worth my time.

CONELL began with several speakers introducing us to AALL and the different participation opportunities available.  We met the incoming AALL president as well as the editors of the two main publications of the association, AALL Spectrum and Law Library Journal.  We then had small group breakout sessions where we had a chance to speak candidly with members of the Executive Board about the association and the conference.  Our final speaker discussed strategies to get the most out of our attendance at the annual meeting. Even though I was unable to attend the remainder of the annual meeting, I still took to heart this speaker’s message and tried to apply it to the remainder of my day at CONELL.

Following the speakers, we participated in two more morning activities: speed networking and “the marketplace.”  Speed networking, inspired by and set up like speed dating, gave us the opportunity to network with each other for five minutes, before switching to another CONELL attendee.  I will admit that this was the event I was least looking forward to, but, as it turns out, this ended up being my favorite part of CONELL!  In fact, in most rounds, I wished they would have given us more time to talk with each other, because it was so interesting to get to hear about the different roles people play in law librarianship, and the various impressions people have about undertaking this career.  For a person getting ready to start seeking out jobs in this profession, I found this event incredibly valuable.

The marketplace was an opportunity for us to get to know the various committees and caucuses available for participation in AALL.  Each had a booth (usually with free goodies, like candy and pens) with pamphlets of information about their groups, and we had 45 minutes to go around the room and talk with the representatives from the groups and explore possible areas of interest to us.  This was an excellent means of introducing us to AALL.  While I have been exploring their website since I began my librarianship program a year ago, I never realized what an array of special interest groups they offered until I attended the marketplace.

After a lovely lunch, our last CONELL activity was a tour of Philadelphia.  This was meant to give us an opportunity for further networking while we explored the city together; unfortunately, because the annual meeting lined up with the current heat wave sweeping the country, the weather in Philadelphia was blistering hot and oppressively humid.  Thus the weather distracted us from any productive networking!  Had the weather been more pleasant, this would have been a lovely event, as it not only allowed for more networking, but also afforded the opportunity for those unfamiliar with Philly to get to know some of the historic sites they may not otherwise have had the opportunity to explore.  That said, I think we were all grateful that our tour guide did not make us get off the bus to see the Liberty Bell – the line for it was all the way around the building, and made no sign of moving quickly!

After the tour, CONELL was officially over.  I later met up with an acquaintance who directs a law library in Chicago to discuss the ins and outs of the interview process, another invaluable opportunity for me as I begin my job search.  Sunday morning I took a quick tour through the vendors’ exhibit hall to see all the services available to law libraries, then returned home.  Despite the fact that I could not stay for the duration of the annual meeting, I am so glad that I attended CONELL.  This experience gave me a much clearer picture of law librarianship as a career; afforded me the opportunity to network with professionals already in the field, exchanging business cards and even distributing a few resumes; and connected me with several members of my “CONELL class” whom I will likely continue to see at these meetings for years to come.  Although I could not stay and use the tips I learned in CONELL to get the most out of this year’s meeting, I am looking forward to attending next year’s meeting (being held in Boston – one of my favorite cities!) and using these tips then.  Thank you, AALL, for offering such a wonderful conference for those of us new to the profession.