Looking Back on the CALL Website

It may be hard to believe, but CALL has had a website for over 20 years. In honor of CALL’s 70th anniversary here are a few notable events in the evolution of CALL’s web presence, drawn from the CALL Bulletin and minutes of the CALL executive board.  Thanks to the Internet Archive, we even have a few screenshots of what earlier pages looked like. I hope you will enjoy this look back at how the CALL website evolved.

British physicist Sir Tim Berners-Lee is credited with inventing the World Wide Web at CERN in Switzerland in 1989. At the end of April 1993, the software to run a web server and a basic browser were put in the public domain, and the web was off and running.  It wasn’t long after that that the idea of CALL establishing a website arose.  A new CALL Internet Committee met in September 1995 to discuss establishing a CALL homepage on the world wide web, and in the Committee Annual Reports for 1996 it was announced that the site would be live as of June 1 at the URL of http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/1158.

Geocities - CALL Website

The homepage was primarily the creation of Steve Miller (Internet Committee Co-Chair) and Joel E. Glad, a student at Northwestern University School of Speech.

The Internet Committee’s annual report for May 1997 noted the intention to revamp the current “experimental and rudimentary” website with the goal of having CALL’s “first complete, non-experimental web page on a web server by June 30, 1997” at the URL of http://www.call-library.org.  But this new URL was apparently never put to use. The Chicago Library System had received funding in 1997 to host affiliates’ listservs and homepages and was willing to host CALL’s website under the URL of http://www.chilawlib.org.

ChiLawLibOrg - CALL Website

But by October of 1998 the Internet Committee reported they were having difficulties accessing the CLS server and recommended the site be moved to the Northwestern Law School server where it would be hosted free of charge. By the time of the 1998-1999 Committee Annual Reports, that plan had changed, and moving the CALL website to Washburn University was being discussed.

While where to host the website was problematic, the quantity and quality of the content on the website was not. In the September 1999 board meeting minutes it was noted that CALL’s website was second only to LLAGNY’s in distributing information, association announcements, and services such as lists of board members, and that while every chapter had plans for websites, most of them were not as far along as CALL’s.

Also at the September meeting came the announcement that a new home for the website had finally been selected: it would be moved to the AALL server.  The migration of the CALL website to AALLnet occurred in September 2000 at the address of http://call.aallnet.org, which was later changed to http://www.aallnet.org/chapter/call.

AALLnetSite - CALL Website

Two years later, in October 2002, Annette Cade, Judy Gaskell, and Connie Wittig re-designed and expanded the site originally created by Bill Schwesig.

Betty Roeske’s “President’s Letter” in the winter 2004 issue of the CALL Bulletin announced that a new members only section was available on the website.  The Membership Directory was added to the members only section in 2005 and copies of speakers’ presentations at CALL meetings and workshops were posted there as well.  By 2007 the Membership Directory was no longer issued in paper and resided solely on the website. In 2008, the board announced that avoid a long delay before minutes were available in the CALL Bulletin, the full board minutes would be posted to the Members Only section of the CALL website and only summaries would be included in the Bulletin in the future.

The AALLnet-hosted website served CALL for over ten years, but by 2011 it was becoming obvious that it did not have a number of features that newer websites were able to offer. In addition the site was complex to update and could only be updated by the few people who had the login and password.  At the June 2011 board meeting Debbie Ginsberg demonstrated a prototype web page employing WordPress as the front end. Some of WordPress’ benefits were that postings would no longer need to be funneled solely through the Internet Committee; the site would be compatible with more recent browsers, mobile devices, and CALL’s social media sites; and it would include blog and RSS capabilities lacking in the AALLnet site.

The board decided to move ahead with the conversion of the website to WordPress, along with a new CALL logo that was approved in August 2011.  A soft launch for new website was scheduled for December 14, with announcement going out on the CALL listserv after cutover. The old site’s URL was set to forward to the new site, https://chicagolawlib.org, and page by page the old content on the AALL site was moved to the WordPress site with the move completed by May 31, 2012.

NewChgoLawLibOrg - CALL Website

The evolution of the CALL Bulletin from a print-only to an open, electronic publication deserves separate mention. In 2002 the board decided that past issues of the CALL Bulletin would be posted to the website in PDF format, starting with the spring 2001 special issue on “The Virtual Law Library”; the current issue would remain available in hard copy only. The fall 2003 issue was the first issued in PDF as well as print.  By February 2010 all print copies of Bulletin were discontinued, with the only access being through the website. In February 2011 the board approved removing the current issue of the Bulletin from the Members Only section and allowing full access to the current issue.  At the September 2014 board meeting it was announced that the Bulletin would be completely online in WordPress, available at the URL of http://bulletin.chicagolawlib.org/ with a printable PDF option.

CALLBulletinFall2014 - CALL Website

By the next spring the CALL Bulletin had won AALL’s “Best Newsletter Award” for its new online version.

Given the rapid pace of change in technology it will be interesting to see how the Web, and the CALL website, will have changed by the time of CALL’s 75th anniversary. Stay tuned!