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, 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 Government

Government Printing in Jeopardy

For my government information course this summer, I researched how the current budget crisis may affect (and in some ways already has affected) government printing.  In particular, I was surprised by reports of three major government publishing projects that could be severely affected by imminent slashed budgets.

The one getting the most attention is the Census Bureau’s termination of the Statistical Compendia Branch, the office responsible for publishing the Statistical Abstract of the United States, an FDLP essential title.  (  This is perhaps most disturbing because of the variety of disciplines and organizations it will affect.  Not only is this publication essential to librarians, but it is also a critical resource for various businesses, researchers, and other government agencies.  Arguably, the cancellation of this publication will not mean the end of the data traditionally compiled within it.  In fact, it being such a popular title, private vendors like ProQuest would probably love to scoop it up.  However, in terms of access to government information, privatization would severely limit the number of libraries able to provide access, as vendor subscriptions are often so pricy.

Another government publishing effort in jeopardy is the e-Government Fund, which looks to receive a significant cut to their proposed budget this year.  (–be-cut-to-2m-under-current-bills-in-congress-watchdog-warns.aspx)  This fund supports the production and development of the Open Government sites created through the Open Government Initiative.  These sites, such as, provide public access to data and publications compiled by several agencies and departments, rather than requiring users to fish around on individual agencies’ sites to assemble it.  While a slashed budget will not necessarily mean that these sites will be shut down, it does mean that progress on these sites will be much slower than anticipated, and new sites in the works will be halted.

Finally, and most disturbing to me, is H.R. 2551, the House’s Legislative Appropriations Bill that would drastically reduce the budget of the GPO, providing no funding for FDsys, the only free database offering access to official government publications.  Worse, a report that accompanies this bill suggests that there is no future for the GPO at all, and the committee requests a study of the possibility of allowing the House and Senate to each select their own printers, moving executive branch printing to the GSA, moving the Superintendent of Documents to the Library of Congress, and privatizing the remainder of the GPO’s responsibilities!  (Discussion of GPO begins on page 25)  The beauty of the GPO has been its ability to standardize government printing, rendering government publications much more reliable and accurate.  To now distribute these efforts across several mediums will not only affect access, but may also undo the standardization that has made government publishing such a powerful force over the years.

Time will tell what the true affect of the budget crisis will be for government printing, but, with the need for budget cuts to come from somewhere, and with (it would seem) only the library community up in arms to protect it, the future of government printing certainly looks bleak.