From April 3-5, 2014, law librarians from around the Southeast converged on Knoxville, Tennessee for the annual meeting of the Southeastern Chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries (SEAALL). There were a variety of excellent presentations to choose from, and the following are just a few of my highlights from the conference.The Conference kicked off with Ignite Presentations, a series of lectures following a short presentation format designed to fit a maximum amount of content in an hour’s time. I particularly enjoyed Rachel Gordon of Mercer University School of Law’s presentation on RECAP, a browser plug-in that allows the user to browse the PACER database, and if a particular document has already been made available via the Internet Archive, download that document free of charge. You can find more on: recapthelaw.org.
Another interesting Ignite Presentation was “Web-cite” from Kathleen Klepfer from Florida State University College of Law. Her presentation focused on the availability of electronic citation machines. While no citation machine is a complete substitute for hands-on experience with the Bluebook, a citation machine can be a helpful tool. Several machines were covered, but one that stood out for me was Citeus Legalus, a citation machine that is the product of an ambitious law student.
“But I Just Work in the Back” by Rebecca Trammell and Cathy Rentschler from the Stetson University College of Law was another interesting presentation. This program discussed combining the Technical Services and Circulation Departments in the Stetson Law Library. It all started when they noticed a backlog in work, particularly the sorting of the campus mail, when only one person was trained to do the task. They set about uncovering the reason behind the backlog by diagramming the workflow of Technical Services and Circulation and discovered there were several opportunities to make the workflow more efficient. To accomplish this, they combined Circulation and Technical Services into the Asset Management and Services Team. The benefits of this change included cross training for library employees, better coordination of staff schedules, and the seamless integration of additional responsibilities.“Flipped Instruction” from Elizabeth Outler, Loren Turner, and Shamika Dalton from the University of Florida Levin College of Law discussed a new method of instruction that is an appealing alternative to the traditional lecture format. Flipped instruction pairs independent study undertaken in preparation for a class–in this case, a YouTube lecture–followed by a collaborative, practical learning session. The presenters demonstrated this method of instruction by assigning “homework” to attendees to be completed before the presentation. Before the program, attendees were supposed to watch a YouTube tutorial on how to assemble an origami box and then practice the exercise during the presentation. Though it can be a challenge to ensure that students take responsibility to watch the assigned material in advance of the class session, this method of instruction may offer greater opportunities for student engagement and participation, allowing the use of class time for students to gain hands-on experience with the benefit of an instructor’s support.
The Law Library‘s own Jennifer Gonzalez and David Walker from the Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law presented a program on “Integrating Academic Support with Library Services.” Academic success programs have two primary objectives: increase the retention rate of at-risk students and increase bar passage rates. Law libraries can integrate themselves into these programs in a variety of ways. For example, they can bring academic support professionals into the library and/or provide study rooms for tutoring hours. Collection development is also key to these programs, and libraries can play a role in curating a collection of study aids that address a variety of different learning styles, as well as provide practice exam databases. Law librarians can also serve as academic support professionals, using the skills they developed in law school, as well as their reference and instructional skills, to support at-risk students. If there is no academic success program, or the program only addresses bar preparation, libraries can pursue informal strategies to make sure students and other departments know the library is a valuable resource for students in need of academic assistance, such as creating a welcoming environment, making study aids easily accessible to students, and building connections with faculty.Lastly, I was proud to serve as Chair of the SEAALL Community Service Committee. Thanks to the hard work of our outstanding committee members and the generosity of our SEAALL membership, we raised over $1000 for our Community Service Committee partner, Knox Reads. One committee member who went above and beyond was Shawn Friend from the Florida Coastal School of Law. Shawn created an incredible quilt made entirely from law school t-shirts that was auctioned off at the conference via a silent auction. All the proceeds will be donated to Knox Reads.
It was a great conference, and the members of the Local Arrangements Committee from the University of Tennessee College of Law and Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law did an excellent job of facilitating the conference.