This past week, four members of the BLS Library team travelled to Washington DC for the 102nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Librarians. Among the many events taking place at the conference was a program called WYDSIWYG: What You Don’t See Is What You Get. Library Director Victoria J. Szymczak was the Coordinator and Moderator for the program which discussed how the web presence of a law school can improve the web experience of students and visitors with disabilities. The session demonstrated how a person with visual disabilities “sees” a web site. Panelists showed how software and common web design trends can improve web site navigation for all users. The program was made available through the Computing Services Special Interest Section which Prof. Szymczak chaired this past year.
Another event at the conference was the awarding of Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians by the Foreign, Comparative and International Law Special Interest Section. This year’s grantee was Ahmadullah Masoud, reference librarian at the Independent National Legal Training Center (INLTC) Law Library in Kabul Afghanistan. Masoud’s primary reference responsibilities range from providing patrons with print and electronic reference assistance to designing a formal legal research curriculum and training materials for Afghan and U.S. Military attorneys, judges, professors and INLTC students (future judges, prosecutors, and attorneys). The INLTC library is the only law library in Afghanistan. Until recently the USAID Afghanistan Rule of Law Project (ARoLP) provided funding to operate the library. At this time the work on the INLTC law library continues, however, similar developments at the Supreme Court law library have been suspended due to a lack of ARoLP funding.
While at the AALL conference, Masoud and Andrea Muto of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) presented a slide show called the Past, Present, and Future of the Law Library and Librarianship in Afghanistan: The Challenges and Rewards of Building a Library after 30 Years of War to demonstrate the practical and technical challenges facing the INTLC. See the slide below along with a brief video introducing Masoud and Andrea.