Interviews with law librarians from Hein Online

It has been observed that many law librarians aren't always great at explaining their role. A bit of reflection on what we do and why we're important/special/highly skilled is useful, along with practice in articulating what law librarianship means.

Hein Online, that venerable legal research database, recently began posting video interviews with current and retired law librarians on its YouTube channel, as part of the work An Oral History of Law Librarianship. See more on the Hein Blog.

The videos range from 15 minutes to an hour and offer both information and inspiration. Perhaps an ALLA member would like to pursue getting some Australian voices into the mix?

ALLA(WA) Committee Secretary - Megan Fitzgibbons. 
Librarian, University of Western Australia.

The Economic Value of Law Libraries

The American Association of Law Librarian has released A Report of the American Association of Law Libraries Economic Value of Law Libraries Special Committee January 2015.

The Report does not set out the value of law libraries in monetary terms, but instead provides

"research and best practices for each library manager to use to determine the value standards held by their own organization and how those values are measured and reported. The report offers guidance for each librarian in determining how best to align their services to their organization's mission.  Since even the best services may go unrewarded if not recognized, the report describes methods for reporting the library's value to its important stakeholders."
The Report is well worth a read for any person working in libraries, regardless of your role, or the type of library.

ALLA(WA) Committee Member - Alice Hewitt. 
Librarian, Reference and Information Services, Murdoch University.

Acts and Instruments (Framework Reform) Bill 2014 - Passed

The Acts and Instruments (Framework Reform) Bill 2014 (Cth) passed in both Houses of Parliament on the 23rd of February 2015. The Bill was referred to Committee (30/10/2014): Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee; Committee report (02/12/2014)

An important bit from the Explanatory Memorandum:

The existing Acts database established under the Acts Publication Act and the existing Federal Register of Legislative Instruments (both are accessible by ComLaw) will be integrated into a single register called the Federal Register of Legislation (the Register). The Register may contain other relevant documents and information likely to be useful to users of the Register.


The Bill establishes a new category of instruments called notifiable instruments, which will be able to be registered in authoritative form. This new category of instrument is designed to cover instruments that are not appropriate to register as legislative instruments, but for which public accessibility and central management on the Register is desirable. 

The Bills Digest states:

Legislative Instruments Act 2003 to: amend the short title of the Act to the Legislation Act 2003 to reflect the consolidation of the legislative frameworks of the publication of Commonwealth Acts and the registration of Commonwealth instruments; clarify the definitions of ‘legislative instrument‘ and ‘legislative character‘; provide that certain instruments are notifiable instruments which are registrable but not subject to parliamentary scrutiny or sunsetting; establish the Federal Register of Legislation; and allow the First Parliamentary Counsel to make editorial changes to Acts and instruments in the Register;

An interesting concept is the idea "that certain instruments are notifiable instruments which are registrable but not subject to parliamentary scrutiny or sunsetting". We will have to take a closer look into the Act once it is passed, but what do you expect this idea to have in terms of practical operation? What changes will this see for ComLaw?

ALLA(WA) Committee Member - Alice Hewitt. 
Librarian, Reference and Information Services, Murdoch University.

Legal link rot

It has happened to all of us: you're reading an article and happen upon a footnote that looks intriguing. You click on the link, and boom, 404 error.

Last year, the Harvard Law Review Forum published 'Perma: Scoping and Addressing the Problem of Link and Reference Rot in Legal Citations: How to Make Legal Scholarship More Permanent, which offers a solution for the broken links that litter legal scholarship over time.

They found: "Of our spot-checked sample, only 29.9% of the HRJ links, 26.8% of the HLR links, and 34.2% of the JOLT links contained the material cited due to link or reference rot."

The article therefore pitches the idea of Perma:

"...a platform that will allow authors and editors to automatically generate, store, and reference — in a freely and publicly accessible manner — archived data representing the relevant information of a cited online resource. A freely accessible web database of cited materials will not only allow for the owners of websites to no longer worry about maintaining cited links, it will create better references and more easily verified scholarship."

You can sign up for a free account with Perma and check it out. Basically, the services archives the item that you wish to cite and creates a perpetual URL that will lead future would-be readers back to the material. I'm not sure if there are copyright implications with the service; perhaps that remains to be seen. But for now, it looks like a fantastic idea, and one that libraries are involved in supporting.


Jill Lepore, 'Can the Internet be Archived?', The New Yorker, 26 January 2015.

Jonathan Zittrain, Kendra Albert and Lawrence Lessig, 'Perma: Scoping and Addressing the Problem of Link and Reference Rot in Legal Citations: How to Make Legal Scholarship More Permanent', (2014) 27 Harvard Law Review F. 176

ALLA(WA) Committee Secretary - Megan Fitzgibbons. 
Librarian, University of Western Australia.

Just remember... they're jealous of us

Research has been published and shows that one of the most desirable jobs in Britain is a Librarian. 

It seems that 54% of respondents want to be a Librarian. So when you are having a bad day at work, 54% of Britons want your job.

The top six most popular jobs:
  1. Author
  2. Librarian
  3. Academic 
  4. Lawyers
  5. Interior Designer
  6. Journalist
You can read more at The Independent.

ALLA(WA) Committee Member - Alice Hewitt. 
Librarian, Reference and Information Services, Murdoch University.

2015 Icebreaker Breakfast - Reminder

ALLA(WA) invites one and all to our Icebreaker Breakfast!

Kirsty McPhee, Knowledge and Business Development Manager, Tottle Partners will speak on:

Shaken and Stirred: Adding value by adding CPD programs for lawyers. Information professionals are increasingly looking outside the box for ways to add value to their organisations. This session will focus on the successful introduction of an accredited Continuing Professional Development program for lawyers in a mid-tier Perth law firm.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

7:30am - 9:00am

Jackson McDonald Level 17, 225 St Georges Terrace

Luise Crisafulli: by COB 18 February 2015

A light breakfast will be provided!

Presentation sponsored by Thomson Reuters

Access to Justice: A Webinar Series for Law Librarians

Cross-posted from an American Association of Law Libraries e-mail list

Access to Justice: A Webinar Series for Law Librarians

Webinar series co-sponsored by the Self Represented Litigation Network - Librarians' Working Group (SRLN-LWG) and the State, Court, and County Law Libraries - Special Interest Section (SCCLL-SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL).

Webinar I
Access to Justice: Who's Your Partner and Where Are You Going?

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. Eastern

Panelists: Sara Galligan, Terrye Conroy

Moderator: James Durham

Program Description: Partnerships are essential ways of doing business for law librarians in all types of libraries.  This access to justice webinar will describe areas for strategic partnering such as training, core collections, centralized websites, and technology.  It will also describe major partners in the legal community and ways to strengthen our collaboration with valuable allies.

Free registration for Webinar I is open here.

Webinar II
Access to Justice: Best Practices for Court, County, and Government Law Libraries

Tuesday, March 24, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. Eastern

Panelists: Sara Galligan, Joan Bellistri, and Janine Liebert

Moderator: James Durham

Program Description: As we claim our role in alleviating the justice gap, law librarians provide unique services for self represented litigants and are critical advocates for essential library services. Two 2014 reports have made great strides in understanding how court and county law libraries enhance access to justice:  the Self-Represented Litigant Network's law library subgroup survey and report on law library services and self help centers; and AALL's Access to Justice Special Committee report on Law Libraries and Access to Justice. This program is specifically for court, county, and government law librarians who want to learn basic service benchmarks as well as touchstones for evolving services, as gleaned from the two reports. Whether a practical lesson or best practice for library self-help programs, these guiding principles will energize attendees. The program will  serve as a catalyst for enhancing services in all public law libraries, no matter  how small or large. It will also convince law librarians that they can and must promote law library services among other collaborators in the legal community.

Free registration for Webinar II will be open soon!

Twitter chat: Building Your Brand

Twitter users—or those who want to give Twitter a try in a meaningful way—check out this announcement from the Special Library Association. Unfortunately the live action isn't at a convenient time for Australians (except insomniacs), but it will be interesting to have a look after the discussion.

Cross-posted from the Special Libraries Association

Branding isn’t just for marketing professionals (or cattle ranchers) any more. In today’s fast-moving digital environment, personal and professional branding allows us to communicate our goals and interests, distinguish ourselves based on our strengths, and contribute to conversations we are passionate about.

Focusing on how to build and communicate a strong identity for ourselves, our information centers, our field, and our professional association, this hour-long Twitter chat will help attendees consider the benefits of branding.

  • Follow @SLAhq on Twitter and use #SLAtalk to join in on the conversation.
  •  New to Twitter chats? Read “How to #SLAtalk.”

Q1 (first 15 minutes): How do you want to be known professionally, within both the field and your organization? If you had to create a tagline for yourself, what would it be?

Q2 (second 15 minutes): How can info pros build their brand online? Which tools and processes do you like best, and why?

Q3 (third 15 minutes): What steps have you taken to brand your library or info center? How do you promote your workplace within your organization?

Q4 (last 15 minutes): As information professionals, how can we brand our profession? Do you still identify with the title of librarian? Why or why not?

Australian Law Librarian in New York and Chicago

Australian Law Librarian in New York and Chicago, December 2014

ALLA(WA) Member - Catherine Macgill

As the last traveller of the year from the Law Library I took off in December with my trusty front cover of the journal. It made quite a cheerful though rather wet appearance in New York at the public library. My boots did not stand up to the 'puddling', a rather jolly word for large pools of water on the undrained streets. I now have waterproof boots that will last me the rest of my travelling years.

It was quite warm and dry inside as many other soggy tourists could confirm. A treasure of a place to visit.

A week later - do not be deceived by the bright blue skies above the rather uncharacteristically (for Chicago) ornate Chicago Public Library. See here for a better photo and history. We were rushing on our last day but if we had known about the winter garden we would have made a detour - next time.

I had no inclination to retrieve the journal as I might have had to take my gloves off! A lovely minus 7 and time to come home to 44 above.

Google v Internet Archive

A recent article has highlighted a short coming in trusting Google to stick to its original mission statement "to organise the world's information and make is universally accessible and useful".

In Never trust a corporation to do a library's job the author, Andy Baio discusses the ever evolving projects and policies of the search engine giant and what impact relying on these to stay the same could have in the long run. Google is shown to be abandoning some of the projects that would have, hopefully, actually made the world's information perpetually "accessible and useful".

On the other hand, "Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music and more." It includes the Wayback Machine that contains 452 billion web pages archived. You can even use Wayback Machine to capture a webpage as it appears now for use as a trusted citation in the future.

Google may be a better search engine, and have it's information stored in a much more organised manner than Internet Archive. But when Google is now shifting it's algorithms and search features to be all about currency, it's good to know there are ways of finding the old content.

Academic Librarians v Bono

The Library Journal has published an article where the author, Steve Bell compares academic librarians to Bono from U2, and not necessarily in a good way (sorry, Bono fans).

In the article, Trying Too Hard For Relevance, Bell points out that it's not a librarian whose head you press in iTunes to access the artists listing, but Bono's. He also points out that Bono fills stadiums while academic librarians can often struggle to fill their information literacy training sessions. I'm pretty sure if we had the production value of a U2 show that might be a different story (give me fireworks when you find the right case any day).

Then the comparisons do seem to make a bit more sense:

"But there might be one thing that many academic librarians have in common with Bono: They are both struggling to maintain their relevance. And, in what is perhaps a common strategy to defend what’s left of that relevance, both Bono and academic librarians are willing to insert themselves into places where they’ll be just a bit more front and center, lest they might be ignored and forgotten. This is not a criticism of that strategy, but it should have academic librarians questioning whether it gets the right results, and if and when it can backfire."

Recall when, in 2014 when suddenly you received the free gift of the new U2 album on your iTunes account. Did you listen to it? Did you delete it? Do you even know the name of the album? Even Bell doesn't mention it in the article. Personally, nope, deleted and no clue. I generally like U2 songs, but I didn't even give this album a chance. It was too pushy, dumped onto my iPhone by Apple without giving me the option to say 'yes please, I'll have free stuff'. It highlighted how much power Apple has over my devices.

Do academic librarians have that much power over their library users? Think of the free stuff academic librarians give away - bookmarks and the occasional chocolate (I don't know about you, but I can't afford the fireworks permits), even discounting the power and budget issues there -  I doubt the users of an academic library would ever consider their librarians pushy on that front.

Where we can get pushy? Asking academics for class time and involvements in their units. Emailing too much. Bringing every conversation we have with them back to our services and what we can offer. If not careful, we can turn into telemarketers who you can't hang up on.

The best idea, is to promote ourselves, and our services in subtle ways. Be approachable and open, let them know how to reach you and that you can be reached. Let them know why it is even worth trying to reach you - what can you do for them. As Bell says at the end of his article:

"We may not be rock stars like Bono, but if we make our presence known in thoughtful, designerly ways, academic librarians will be relevant to college students long after Bono is doing his farewell concert."

ALLA(WA) Committee Member - Alice Hewitt. 
Librarian, Reference and Information Services, Murdoch University.

Islamic State Ransacking Libraries and Burning Books in Mosul, Iraq

Some sad news out of Iraq where Islamic State has been burning books in an attempt to purge the society of anything that does not conform to their interpretation of Islam.

You can read more about this in UN Laments 'Cultural Cleansing' In Mosul As ISIS Ransacks Libraries and Burns Books from International Business Times.

An Evening with Dan Mori: CPD Seminar

Firm Law Librarians may wish to share this around to interested CPD point seekers.

CASE for Refugees is holding a CPD event in conjunction with Murdoch University School of Law on Thursday 19 February 2015. Proceeds will be Directed to the Fair Go for Asylum Seekers Appeal.

An Evening with Dan Mori

Murdoch University School of Law & CASE for Refugees invite you to join us to learn from renowned lawyer Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Dan Mori. 

Dan earned prominence for challenging the US military commission system and representing Australian citizen and Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks.

He will talk about:

  • The Australian government system for supporting Australians facing trail overseas. 
  • The relevant procedures from extradition to the transfer of prisoners back to Australia to serve any sentence

Date: Thursday, 19 February 2015
Time: 6.30pm to 8pm
Venue: King & Wood Mallesons. Level 30, QV1 Building, 250 St Georges Terrace, Perth
Cost: $95

Places are limited! Register via


Public Lecture: 'Gender Equalitiy in Global Perspective'

ALLA (WA) members may be interested in attending a free public lecture by Professor Catharine A. MacKinnon - 'Gender Equality in Global Perspective'.

Professor MacKinnon is a professor of law at the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School. She practices law, consults both nationally and internationally on legislation, litigation and activism, works with NGO groups working to end human trafficking,  promote sex equality rights for women.

Catharine A. MacKinnon has been at the forefront of sex equality legal advocacy and has been influential in defining sexual harassment in America and Canada as well as the recognition of rape as an act of genocide.

Law Librarians will be interested to know that Professor MacKinnon is among the most widely-cited legal scholars in the English language and the most widely-cited woman.

The free event is scheduled for Monday, 16 February 2015 at the University of Western Australia. Booking a place is essential.

For more information about the lecture, and to find out how to RSVP see the UWA Faculty of Law News and Events.

Meeting the ALLA(WA) Committee: Alice Hewitt

Here at the ALLA(WA) Blog, we are taking the chance to help members to get to know their Committee a bit better.

Introducing: Alice Hewitt, Reference & Information Services Librarian (Law), Murdoch University.

1. Who is a hero who has inspired you in your career?

I always find hero a hard thing to point down, everyone is a hero everyday really - just in different ways at different times. So pointing to one person is rather tricky. Even trickier as I'm inspired by so many amazing librarians everyday - and not just the law librarians. I've met a children's librarian who believed that young adults were being overlooked and went back to university to do more research into this in the hopes of helping these people. I've met librarians who want nothing more than to help, to teach and to mentor others to help them become the best at what they do. I'm still new to this Librarian gig, and I like to think that every day I come across at least one hero who can inspire me to be better.

2. What is the proudest moment in your professional life?

Getting a job in a law library. Sounds simple, but I worked on my librarian qualification with the specific intent of becoming a law librarian. That working out, it's a pretty nice feeling.

3. Career advice – what’s your top tip?

Be approachable - and learn how to market yourself this way. Make your library clients know you are there, know that you know what is going on, and know that you know what they are going through. Or at least be confident enough to make them think that. 

4. What’s your favourite legal research tool?

After spending the week taking screen shots of legislation for an assessment I'm preparing... - Such a time saver!

5. If you had to work on only one project for the next year, what would it be?

I honestly don't think I could really do only one thing for an entire year. Maybe a road trip around the USA and Canada, nice car, bring along a schnauzer or two for company, visit libraries and see ice hockey games as I work my way around.

6. Librarian cliché: What is your favourite book? (Or one of your favourite books?)

um.... anyone else hear crickets? Picking one is really hard. Anything by Terry Pratchett, particularly the Discworld series, makes me a happy reader.

7. If you weren't a librarian, what would you be?

Probably a lawyer, or if I really felt inspired I'd enrol in med school. (Don't worry Mum, I'm done with studying for now).