Annual meetings (or conferences) allow law librarians to come together in one place to share ideas, whether formally through programs or informally through the conference-hosted events. Sometimes, we’re the ones sharing ideas and other times we spend more time listening to others. For me, the most valuable part of conferences can be talking to other law librarians to learn how they are doing things in their law library or learning more about a project that I can bring back to share with my colleagues at the Law Library of Congress. Conferences also have an exhibition hall, where librarians can learn about the latest vendor products or become more familiar with products their library might already have.
Most conferences are an annual (or more often) event associated with professional organizations. For example, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has an annual meeting every year, with this year’s meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. AALL is the national association to which many law librarians from various types of law libraries belong and exists “to promote and enhance the value of law libraries to the legal and public communities, to foster the profession of law librarianship, and to provide leadership in the field of legal information.”
In addition to the larger, national association, there are also regional associations. I belong to the Southeastern Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries (SEAALL), as well as AALL. SEAALL exists for the same purpose as AALL, but on a smaller scale based on region.
I just returned from the SEAALL 2011 Annual Meeting, which was held in my hometown of Columbia, South Carolina. The program had a lot to offer this year. One presentation that I found especially useful was on the Authentication and Preservation of Digital Legal Information that outlined what states are doing to provide official and authentic online legal resources. This was of particular interest to me in light of the goals outlined in the Law Library’s Strategic Plan. In addition, because SEAALL is a smaller conference than AALL, I find it sometimes allows for more frequent conversations with fellow law librarians and vendors, which makes me feel like I’m making valuable connections.
I further discuss the professional role that conferences can play in the upcoming edition of Law Library Journal, an AALL publication. In addition, Andrew Weber and I will be giving a presentation on THOMAS at AALL in Philadelphia. We hope you’ll come listen to us if you’re there!
*Joke credit goes to Sam Suaudom, Baan Sawan.