The year 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chicago Association of Law Libraries. Anniversaries such as this allow us the opportunity to reflect on the history of this organization and its accomplishments and where we are today. One transformational change that has occurred since 1947 is the rise of the internet, which radically changed the way we do research. Indeed, in thinking about CALL’s 70th anniversary, I was greatly aided by the recent addition of digital versions of back issues of the CALL Bulletin to the online resource HeinOnline. Unfortunately, we have not been able to locate the first eight issues of the Bulletin, so I could not examine the very first issue, but there are mentions of CALL’s founding in contemporaneous issues of Law Library Journal, which are also available in HeinOnline. The Law Library Journal articles and later issues of the Bulletin show that despite all the changes that have occurred in our profession in the last 70 years, the mission of the organization has remained largely the same.
Writing in Law Library Journal in 1948, CALL’s second president, Charles A. McNabb, stated that CALL was entering its second year “with great hopes and some concrete plans for furthering its objectives: cooperation on an active basis between Libraries and Librarians, good fellowship, and an interchange of information and special skills.” One would not really need to change a word to accurately describe the CALL of today.
We see more evidence of CALL’s commitment to cooperation and the exchange of ideas in the first issue of the CALL Bulletin that we have available, which is from three years later, in 1951. The issue features an article discussing recent meetings among representatives from four academic law libraries in Chicago and notes, “[T]here is already considerable cooperation between the libraries.” It was gratifying, although not surprising, to see that our geographic proximity to one another has always fostered a sense of collaboration among the law library community in Chicago.
Continuing education is also a longstanding tradition within CALL. Issue number 11 of the Bulletin includes a description of a “Workshop on Library Problems” held at Northwestern University Law School on October 24 and 25, 1952. Many of the topics covered—“How to Evaluate a Law Library,” “How to Record Legal Reference Questions,” and “Inter-Library Loans”—remain important to law librarians today. Seventy years later, advances in technology allow us to offer CALL workshops in a variety of contexts from in person meetings like the 1952 workshop to online webinars like the e-discovery program recently offered by the Continuing Education Committee.
The following year, CALL’s second workshop expanded outside the Chicago area and brought together 45 law librarians from seven states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin. This coming together of law librarians from across the Midwest and beyond is an early and important precursor to events like the joint annual meeting that CALL is holding this fall in Milwaukee in collaboration with Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin, Inc. (LLAW), Michigan Association of Law Libraries (MichALL), Mid-America Association of Law Libraries (MAALL), and Minnesota Association of Law Libraries (MALL). I hope many CALL members will be there in Milwaukee to present and share ideas.
Finally, 1953 also saw the introduction of a new feature to the CALL Bulletin: “Sparkle”. This section was initiated by Bernita J. Davies, the longtime librarian at the University of Illinois Law Library, who suggested that, in addition to more traditional professional development, CALL also pay attention to “our appearance, our taste in clothes, and to the cultivation of a cheerful personality.” While this feature of the Bulletin has not endured in this particular form, I believe the spirit Ms. Davies wished to celebrate remains with us today in many things that we do in CALL, from community service projects to CALL Meet-Ups, that reflect what she called “the human side of law librarians.”
Be good to each other,