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 Professional Development

Overlooking Legal Research as an Essential Lawyering Skill

Happy 2014, everyone!  With a new year comes a new adventure for me – I’m participating in Ms. JD‘s Writers in Residence program.  Essentially, I have committed to writing a monthly column for their blog: “Research Makeover: The Tips, Tricks, and Trade of Legal Research in the Digital Age.”  My first post is up, and both introduces who I am and why I thought a column on legal research was important.

Essentially, I discuss legal research the way many have before me – as an overlooked, but essential, lawyering skill.  I cite to AALL’s recent task force survey of practitioners and the research faults of their summer clerks and new hires, and I allude to several other studies as well.  Given all this evidence that legal research is an essential and lacking skill, I postulated two main reasons I see for why such an essential skill is so commonly overlooked: Assumption of Skill and Information Overload.  I hope you’ll read the post (and my next 11 as well!), but I thought I’d flesh this out a little further here.

Assumption of Skill – I think it is easy for anyone today, not just law students and not just in the legal profession, to assume s/he has solid research skills.  In the Ms. JD post, I cite one reason for this: that most of us have had to do some kind of research during our education, for a paper, an article, or something similar.  Therefore we know how to research, right?  Unfortunately, there is a critical distinction to be made here between academic research and client-based research.  Sure, you might use some of the same resources and materials for both, but the strategy is necessarily different.  Academic research can be a little more exploratory without causing any significant problems; you can wander between resources, run a thousand different searches, and download hundreds of documents without worry.  When you’re researching for a client, however, you have to know the best resources for finding your answers, you have to have the confidence that the answers you’re finding are complete and accurate, and you have to complete the research process efficiently, both for time and financial concerns.    With many subscription databases, opening documents, downloading documents, or even running multiple searches can rack up your costs without you knowing it until the bill arrives!  The stakes are high in client-based research.  You need to have a plan; you need to know what you need to know; and you need to know where to find it.  All that issue-spotting ingrained into you in your substantive law classes is a critical component of your research strategy, and an important first step in the process.  You don’t want to go in blind.

In addition, I think today especially it is easy to assume that legal research is a no-brainer because of the Google world in which we live.  Even the legal research databases we’ve been accustomed to for years have begun migrating to a Google-esque platform.  With the “world at your fingertips” mentality, it is easy to assume you’re finding everything there is to find on your subject by running these catch-all searches.  But I must reinforce my earlier point: you still have to know where to find the answer.  Even if you’re running a whole-database search, if you don’t know that you need to be looking at regulations instead of statutes, you may end up looking at the wrong search results.  Legal research is just as much about knowing where to look as it is about finding the right answers.

Information Overload – This point has already been touched upon as well, but, ironic though it may seem, having easy access to so much more information than before may actually make it harder to find answers.  There is so much more to sift through, and evaluating the validity and reliability of electronic resources is not always an easy task.  Like many librarians, I find value in both print and electronic research.  One of the characteristics I value most highly about print research, and something I find lacking in electronic, is the ability to always know what I am looking at and how the information is organized.  I try to emphasize to my students that, with electronic research, you need to always be cognizant of what you’re looking at; with a few tabs and hyperlinks, I may go from looking at one case to looking at a citing decision without realizing it.  That makes it awfully easy for me to misappropriate references in my briefs and memos.  And when dealing with statutes and regulations, it’s so much easier to understand these materials when you can see how they’re arranged; yet many databases post these materials without posting their finding aids, such as tables of contents and indexes.  Information is only as good as what you can comprehend.

This discussion is a little more fleshed-out than in my Ms. JD post on the subject, but I am hoping that it will prompt devoted followers of the blog to tune in to my future posts.  Like any law librarian, I am passionate about legal research, and I am so happy to get to share this with others.

Posted in Professional Development

Lawyers, Librarians, and Law Librarians

As most who read this blog will already know, law librarians generally hold a law degree (JD), a library science degree (ex: M.L.S.), or both. Many academic law librarians, especially recent hires, hold both – I fall into this category. What’s more, I’m one of those people who knew what she was headed toward professionally, so I just stayed in school from college to law school to library school until I was done. Professionally, I’ve always been a law librarian. However, having sweated my way through three years of law school, I decided to take the bar exam upon graduation; lo and behold, I passed, so – what the heck? – I was sworn in. And suddenly there I was, on my way to earning my Masters in Library Science, with an active law license that I now had to maintain.

That was three years ago. For three years, on top of my coursework (and now my job), I have been attending the requisite CLE hours to keep my active-in-good-standing status with the bar. But why? Taking the bar was my desire to prove to myself I could pass it and my legal education went to good use; getting sworn in was a rite of passage. But having to keep up with these CLE credits and the rigid requirements of how many hours of each type of credit I can take is a little exhausting. I do not practice law, I love my job as a law librarian, and yet the idea of taking my license from active to inactive status has always felt wrong. Or lazy.

As I round out my first 3-year period of CLE requirements, I find myself again wondering whether it’s time to go inactive. The same arguments for and against battle it out in my mind, and new ones arise. On the one hand, I’m still not practicing and have no intent to practice, and these CLEs are expensive and are paid on my dime. And even though my employer considers this professional development rather than forcing me to waste vacation time for these seminars, as I sit through these sessions I cannot help but daydream of all the things I could be getting done at work instead of sitting in on sessions that do not apply to me. On the other hand, as a legal educator in the same state where I’m licensed, there are times when attending these sessions and staying active in the bar association feels like a great way to connect my work with future lawyers to the real, practical needs of attorneys today.

Is it truly beneficial for me as a law librarian to stay active by attending these CLEs? Three years in, I’m still not sure I have an answer to that. So here I sit, muddling through this debate yet again, wondering what the best option is. For now, I’ll just keep trying to pick the seminars that might prove marginally helpful in my career.

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 Professional Development, Technology

Reflections on CALIcon13

Today marks the end of the second CALI conference I’ve had the privilege of attending. This year’s host was Chicago-Kent College of Law – I always enjoy getting to explore the layout and features of other law school facilities, and this school did not disappoint.

And of course, neither did the conference! I love the CALI conference, because it’s a conference for law school technologists, bringing together a blend of law school IT professionals and educational technology librarians like me. They even draw in some tech-minded professors, and I always enjoy hearing things from their perspective. This year was especially fun for me because, having been to one previous conference, there were familiar faces, making me feel less like an outsider trying to make my way in. I found myself talking at greater length with fellow attendees, really getting to know what other schools are doing, which is, of course, the whole point.

So I thought I’d share a reflection on the sessions I attended:


Keynote 1: Josh Clark
Our first keynote address was by Josh Clark, an app-building guru (Twitter handle: @globalmoxie). He was a very engaging speaker, discussing all sorts of considerations to be made when building apps and sites for mobile technology. And frankly one of the take-aways was that best practice for any site-building should be to think of how it will look on a small screen first; this will help you cut away all the fluff that often goes into over-crowded apps and sites these days. Since our library is looking into app-building in the near future, this was an inspiring keynote to attend.

Finding + Tuning Social Signals
As an avid experimenter with all sorts of social software, this was such a great program to attend. The speakers, Marcia Dority Baker of U. Nebraska Lincoln College of Law and Roger Skalbeck of Georgetown discussed a number of tools they’ve used to get through the fluff and chaos of social media sites like Twitter to those messages and news tidbits that are most interesting to their readers. ID’ing tools like, Yahoo Pipes and HootSuite – all of which I’ve heard of but hadn’t yet tried out – their experiences definitely convinced me to give them a try. It’s programs like this that I really look forward to at these conferences. What tools should I be trying out for my library?

Ed Tech Blog Lunch Meeting
I am an editor for the Ed Tech blog, maintained by a group of us whose jobs revolve around educational technology for law schools. Our group gets together at every CALI conference to regroup and plan for the next year. We brought in a few more interested people this year, and brainstormed some great ideas for this year’s posts. I’m so glad to be a part of this group.

Engaging Faculty in the use of Tech w/o Using the ‘T’ Word
I was excited for this session, because I think this is an issue at any law school today, mine included. The speakers, Phil Bohl and Julie Tausend of Pepperdine U. School of Law gave some great pointers, even simple things like varying your vocabulary (i.e. Coffee Talk instead of Tech Training).

Flipping the Law School Classroom: Using Tech Outside the Classroom to Engage Students in the Classroom
Everyone is into flipped classrooms these days; this was particularly evident in this session, which was so crowded I had to sit on the ground! No complaints, because I was one of the avid learners who wanted to hear about people’s experiences with this method. Interestingly the speakers here, Joshua Pluta and Tommy Sangchompuphen of Lincoln Memorial were relaying their experiences with flipping a bar prep course (not BARBRI or similar, but an actual law school course for bar prep). They discussed different levels of flipped classrooms, pros and cons of the method, and the types of classes it is best suited for: least suited for entry-level doctrinal courses (1L), better suited for upper-level doctrinal courses, best suited for skills courses.

Flipping Flop? Exploring Whether Guest Lectures Can Use the Flipped Classroom Format
This was probably my favorite session of the day. Presented by Scott Vanderlin and Clare Willis of Chicago-Kent, this was an excellent analysis of using flipped classrooms by guest lecturers. Since in our LRW program I am essentially a four-time guest lecturer, I was very interested in their analysis. It sounded like from their experience it can work, but it’s not perfect. I loved seeing and hearing how they did it and what they learned. A really excellent program.


Keynote 2: Bill Henderson
Professor Bill Henderson, of my own IU Maurer School of Law, was our second keynote speaker. He gave an excellent presentation on the changing profession. Rather than calling doomsday, as so many seem to these days, he instead spoke more of an evolution in the profession, identifying the new kinds of jobs available for law grads (hint: there are many out there, but they’re not necessarily at firms).

What We Learned from Using All the Toys in the Toolbox
This was another great tool-focused presentation by Jill Smith of U. Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law. ID’ing another great list of tools, high-tech and low-tech, this program certainly gave me more things to play with and considerations to make when applying them in the classroom.

Learning from Mistakes
This was probably my favorite presentation of this day. Given by Barbara Glesner-Fines of U. Missouri Kansas City School of Law, this baseball-themed presentation discussed 9 “innings” of mistakes she’s made in teaching over the years. I was a little hesitant when I sat down for this one, thinking maybe I should be looking for another tool-focused presentation instead. But I am SO glad I went to this! I certainly learned from and empathized with mistakes she identified, and at the end the rest of us shared some of our mistakes. I spent another 20 minutes after that presentation talking with a fellow attendee about our mistakes and experiences in teaching; it’s moments like that that I think this conference is meant to elicit.

ABA Techshow & Tell
I’ve always wanted to go to this, but it’s so expensive, so I was glad that Chicago-Kent’s Debbie Ginsberg, Emily Barney, and Florida State’s Elizabeth Barney could share their experiences from it. I think it’s important as legal educators to know what the practitioners know and use so that we can better prepare our students.

The Law School Classroom of the Future
This was the last session I attended, by Larry Farmer of Brigham Young. Triggering a hearty debate, this program looked at current trends in ABA standards for distance education and the technological developments of late to imagine where legal education is headed.

Sadly, that ended my CALIcon experience for the year. I woke on Saturday to pouring rain and a miscalculation of how long it would take to get back to the airport, so I had to miss the last half-day of sessions. However, the first two days were truly enriching, and I can’t wait to get back to start playing with the new tools I learned about and apply some of the lessons and theory I learned along the way.

Thanks, CALI, for another great conference! See you next year!

Posted in Professional Development, Technology

SpringyCamp November 2012

My library subscribes to LibGuides, a dynamic, template-based approach to creating research guides.  Last week, Springshare (the company behind LibGuides) hosted an afternoon webinar called “SpringyCamp” during which presenters from schools all across the country gave presentations on their experiences with various Springshare products, LibGuides included.  Since LibGuides are still relatively new to us and so many of us are creating them, I signed my library up for this free webinar.  (Check out the recorded sessions.)  Though not blown away by every presentation, I did find the experience worthwhile, and generated several pages of ideas for our library.

I found the first session most informative, as it discussed one library’s experiences remodeling their LibGuides – a basic best practices presentation.  Anyone reading my blog knows that I tend toward the verbose, so it was good for me to learn that white space is considered a positive feature of a good research guide.  Too wordy and the guide looks busy.  In addition I garnered several more tips, such as positioning the boxes on a guide so that the most important information is most prominent.  With so many of us working on guides, a small group of us is working to establish some standards and best practices of our own – something that will allow each of us to put our own personality into the guides, but will also ensure that we follow the same set of guidelines.

I also found several of the other sessions illuminating, as they discussed other Springshare products I have heard of, but which our library does not currently have.  For instance, were we to adopt a chat or texting reference service, I believe we would go with LibAnswers, which not only allows for chat and text reference, but integrates with email reference as well.  LibAnswers is particularly helpful for the Knowledgebase it creates – essentially a FAQ based on the reference questions asked in these three formats.  One presenter estimated that 2/3 of his/her patrons’ questions were answered by the Knowledgebase.

We also had some interest LibCal, a calendar service of Springshare.  This has quite a bit of functionality, with the ability for patrons to sign up for events through the calendar and even an option to virtualize study room sign-ups.  Our students currently have to come into the library each morning to sign up for study rooms, first come, first served.  I imagine a virtual service for this would be quite popular.

As always, it was not just the content of the sessions that taught me a thing or two, but the execution of the webinar itself as well.  With two different sessions on LibAnswers and two different sessions on LibCal, I would have liked to have had these back to back; this would have allowed me to better compare the two presentations and get a better understanding of the full functionality of the products.  We also encountered a couple of presentations that alienated many attendees, as they focused on integrating Springshare products into specific Learning Management Systems, such as Blackboard and Moodle.  At IU we use a different LMS, so these programs were not useful for us – but the content easily could have been, had the presentations not focused so much on the LMS, and more on the product.  Finally, it is always important to remember the audience of the presentation.  There were one or two presenters who seemed to make the assumption that we all knew what the products were and how they worked; thus these presentations felt more like advisories on how to plan a project and less on showing us, practically, how we can all benefit from these products.

It was wonderful to have the Springshare staff on hand to answer our technical questions throughout the program.  Springshare products, in my experience, are very user friendly, work well mobilely, and seem to integrate well with each other.  Springshare offers excellent customer service when you have questions about their products, and they seem to build products that can truly enhance a library’s services.  I am glad to have participated in the webinar, and if another is offered in the spring I am likely to “attend” it as well!  There are always new things to be learned.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Professional Development

Exploring the Cloud

The theme to my work this week seems to be cloud storage and collaboration.  Personally, my “cloud” experiences have been through Dropbox and iCloud.  The latter I rarely even think about – I  just know that all of my Mac appliances sync together.  Dropbox, on the other hand, I rely on heavily.  I was introduced to it a year ago when collaborating on a paper; it allowed my coauthor and I to share and work on the same files without having to constantly email them to each other – we simply both had access to the shared folder in Dropbox.  Since then I have used this to collaborate on a class paper and to store who-knows-how-many personal work files.  The beauty of Dropbox has been my ability to download it onto multiple devices – my work PC, my two Mac computers at home, my iPad – and have all of them sync together whenever I work on files in any of them.  What’s more, I can also access my Dropbox folders from any other computer, simply by going to the Dropbox website and logging in.  Ahh, cloud storage!

Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular, and has made its way into the highly-secure infrastructure of the university.  IU does not promote Dropbox because it does not meet their high security standards; however, the university has recently approved cloud computing through Microsoft SharePoint and  As Educational Technology Librarian, I know the likelihood that faculty members or students might approach me with questions about cloud computing is high; being unfamiliar with Microsoft SharePoint in particular (and having heard negative sentiment regarding its ease of use), I took a training program from UITS this week to learn its basics.  Frankly, I am quite impressed with what it can do.  Although not, perhaps, intuitive, SharePoint can do much more than Box or Dropbox, but there is definitely a learning curve.  I intend to take the advanced SharePoint training once I have had a chance to play with what I have learned already for a while.  Despite its complexities, I do feel prepared to address questions that may come my way.

I believe the “digital revolution” has made academia a more collaborative environment, with countless studies showing the growth of collaborative writing, even hyperauthorship.  Perhaps especially because I come to this from a librarianship angle (a typically teamwork-oriented profession), I cannot help by champion cloud computing efforts.  I mentioned taking a class that used Dropbox to write a paper.  Imagine a law school class, or even a law school study group, using one of these cloud resources to create a shared library of study notes to help prepare for their exam.

I am thrilled that IU has found a means to bring secure cloud storage to our campus, and I look forward to promoting it to my patrons this year as a means of organization, storage, collaboration, and communication.

Posted in Professional Development

Another New Direction

After 20+ years of education, I have achieved it – gainful employment!  What’s more, it is a job in a field that I love (law librarianship) at a library that I love (Indiana University Maurer School of Law Library).  Beginning on July 1st, I am the educational technologies librarian at the law school, responsible for incorporating emerging technologies into library projects, as well as assisting willing faculty members with the incorporation of technology into their course preparation and execution.  In essence, this is a very broad job description, meaning that the possibilities for what I can do in this position are far-reaching.  Having worked here for two years as a student while earning my master’s in library science, I could not be more thrilled to receive a permanent position here as well!

This means, however, that my blog is now taking another turn.  What began as a general exploratory blog evolved into a reflections journal during my internship and is now evolving again to chart my professional development and the development of this position generally as time progresses.  In addition to posting on projects I am working on at IU, I will also write about advancements in educational technology generally.

Look forward to more to come!