hands holding leadership

Summer Institute of the Association for Collaborative Leadership

Boston, Massachusetts is like Chicago in that, no matter how many times you visit, there is always something new to discover, something new to learn. I had the opportunity, thanks to a CALL travel grant, to learn something new by attending the Summer Institute of the Association for Collaborative Leadership (ACL) in Boston. The purpose of the ACL is to promote and support higher education partnerships through professional development, resource sharing, and program enhancement. Each summer the ACL holds The Institute on Collaboration in Higher Education. The Institute provides a unique opportunity to learn from leaders in consortia, and other collaboration-based non-profit organizations.

In June, the ACL held the fifth Institute, which consisted of a three-day curriculum taught in an interactive workshop format. The class was made up of 21 students and 6 faculty. Of the 21 students, 4 were law librarians, and 2 members of the faculty held masters in library and information science! The takeaway here is that librarians naturally gravitate toward collaboration.

The Institute required full participation. The students and faculty had breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. This allowed us to continue conversations begun in the classroom. Students had reading assignments prior to the Institute, and homework each evening. On the last day, each student gave a five-minute presentation on a capstone project that they hope to develop. Think graduate school on steroids.

By the end of the Institute, participants left with a clear(er) understanding of the role, and needs of an organization as partners in collaborations.  We also left with specific skills in planning, budgeting, leading inter-institutional groups, developing programs, and cultivating funding resources.

Over the course of the three days, I was asked to describe law librarianship and libraries. Why are law libraries important? What are the challenges and opportunities facing the legal industry? Talking to non-librarians about law libraries required an adjustment in delivery. No jargon allowed. I started looking at law libraries from the other side of the table, something I had not done in a long time.

I came away from the Institute on Collaboration in Higher Education curious about what collaborative opportunities there might be in CALL. Of personal interest to me is the preservation of born digital legal information. As law librarians, we play a critical role in developing strategies for the preservation of born digital information. Local government born digital information is at the most risk of being lost. County and city agencies rarely understand the historical need for preserving regulations that are only in electronic format. Law librarians understand!

Preservation of born digital legal information can be expensive and labor intensive projects. The most obvious solution to these issues is to seek opportunities for collaboration, which would allow for the sharing of costs, resources, and expertise. But how do we get this message up the ladder in our organizations, and get the support for a project?

I centered my capstone idea on developing a communication plan that could be used by law library directors to help educate law school deans, law firm managing partners, or chief judges on the importance of preserving born digital legal information. Librarians are already on board regarding the need and urgency of preserving legal information. However, sustainable collaborative projects have to have the support from the dean and C-suites, as well as the judge’s chambers. My plan is test drive my capstone project among my colleagues in CALL and AALL to create a communication toolkit that can be used by any legal organization.

I am grateful to CALL for awarding me a travel grant to continue my professional development. Attending the ACL Summer Institute has given me an opportunity to explore new ideas that I want to bring back to CALL.