This summer, from July 13-16th I was able to attend the AALL annual meeting and conference in Washington, D.C. thanks to a CALL travel grant. The theme of this year’s conference was Capitalizing on our Strengths and I believe the programs offered this year lived up to that theme.
My favorite event was the Opening General Session, a Keynote by Shon Hopwood, who stated that a law library saved his life. Currently a Professor of Law at Georgetown Law School, Shon discovered his interest in law while he was serving time in federal prison. This speech was a true testament to how providing access to information and resources can change lives.
As law libraries continue to change to meet the realities of the 21st century in terms of technology and budgets, Shon’s powerful message brought forward that our true abiding strength is in providing service to all those who need and want it.
Practical Tech Tips
Another session that I enjoyed was “Do More With Less: Workplace Efficiency Tools”, it, like the session I attended immediately after it “Cool Tools” was focused on technology tools to organize our very busy schedules. Trello seemed to be the tool that most of the presenters use and recommend but I am interested in following up on their mention of Outlook Tasks, it is a feature that I have not used but given my use of Outlook for their email and calendar it sounded like something worth pursuing on my return to the library.
Teaching Resources & Topics
I attended three more sessions on Monday, and my favorite was presented in part by one of our CALL Colleagues, “Hungry, Hungry Hypos: Designing Raw Materials for Problem-Based Instruction”. This session was timely for me as I teach Advanced Legal Research at DePaul and I have been using my Director, Allen Moye’s problems because I don’t feel creative enough but this session taught me some valuable lessons on finding problems in everyday places, like the news.
I also attended “Assessing Legal Research Competency: Bridging the Gap between Law School and Practice”, an area that I am interested in personally. And, I attended “Cards against Case Law! and Other Ways to Enhance Student Learning and Engagement”.
I wrote a brief summary (PDF) of my attendance at that session for ALL-SIS, it was an interactive game session to show instruction librarians how to effectively use games to teach legal research concepts, something that I find very interesting as I am always looking for ways to get my students to talk voluntarily in class.
Exhibit Hall & Poster Session
On Tuesday, I spent most of my time in the Exhibit Hall learning more about new products and resources and then presenting my Poster Session related to the stress of being in a middle management role in law libraries. We acknowledge the stress and anxiety surrounding being a law student and once graduated being a lawyer but those of us who serve them and manage change in law libraries at the same time are also under a great deal of stress.
While I enjoyed visiting with many CALL colleagues, I was particularly pleased with the reactions to my presentation by the Directors of the Memphis and Harvard law libraries who both thought that all law libraries should be considering this issue (of stress and anxiety at work) and ways to resolve it for their own staff and as a regional and national issue for law librarians.
It was the perfect end to a wonderful conference experience, where I not only learned a lot myself but was able to share at least a piece of my experience with others who found it valuable.