Convening in Boston: The American Association of Law Libraries

Several of the BLS librarians recently attended the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries in Boston, MA July 21-24, 2012 where we listened to a variety of speakers in educational programs, toured the exhibit hall, attended business and committee meetings and mingled with our law library colleagues in receptions, luncheons, library tours, and some even at a Red Sox game.

BLS Reference Librarian Kathy Darvil received an “Outstanding Article” award for the article she wrote with former BLS faculty member Aliza Kaplan:  “Think [and Practice] Like a Lawyer: Legal Research for the New Millennials,” 8 Comm. & Rhetoric: JALWD 153 (2011).

Associate Law Librarian for International Research Jean Davis participated in a panel on  “The New Generation of Legal Research Databases: 2012 Boston Sequel.”  This was a follow-up presentation to one given in 2011 in Philadelphia.  The panelists at this presentation discussed the new legal research platforms:  Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advance and WestlawNext.

I attended a presentation entitled “Searching Legal Opinions: The Google Scholar Approach” presented by Anurag Acharya, the Chief Engineer for Google Scholar.  Mr. Acharya gave a riveting and frequently entertaining presentation in which he stated that U.S. Supreme Court decisions are available in Google Scholar since 1791, federal district and appellate court decisions since 1923 and state appellate decisions since 1950.

He said that he was one of two engineers, there are now six, who started Google Scholar and that their goal as far as legal documents are concerned is that everyone should be able to find and read the law that governs them.  Google Scholar contains law-related journals from all major publishers and they plan to add statutes, although this will be a more complicated undertaking than cases.

I also attended a meeting of the Legal Information Preservation Alliance.  This is a group that is working with NELLCO, the New England Law Library Consortium, to draft a plan and program for a shared storage collection of print legal materials.  Since so many libraries are cancelling print titles of various kinds, there is a real need for “one last copy” of basic legal materials in print.  They are working to develop a pilot project of 150,000 legal items.  The major issues now are funding, the number of  libraries that might participate in this joint effort and the location of the storage facility.

To learn more about the American Association of Law Libraries, check out their website here.

Linda Holmes, Associate Law Librarian