Blog

News from the Education Committee

The Education Committee is happy to announce that New England Law | Boston is hosting the spring LLNE meeting. ABLL will co-host the event.  Kristin McCarthy and the staff at the New England Law | Boston Library have been organizing the event for the past few months.

The meeting will take place on Friday, April 14, 2023 at the MCLE Conference Center in Boston. The topic will be “A NextGen Curriculum for a NextGen Bar.”  As many of you know, the first administration of the new bar exam will be July of 2026. Because the new bar examination will be testing foundational skills along with doctrinal subjects, many of us view the new bar exam as an opportunity for greater attention to fundamental skills, but have concerns about how the exam will test these skills. How can we best prepare students, and what curriculum changes should be made to ensure our students are ready? 

We are fortunate to have a number of highly knowledgeable speakers and presenters on the NextGen bar and skills curriculum at this conference.  Marilyn Wellington, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer for the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) will be the keynote speaker.  Marilyn is leading the NCBE’s development of the Next Generation Bar Exam.

Associate Dean Hemanth Gundavaram from Northeastern University School of Law will also be speaking.  Associate Dean Gundavaram presented at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego on the NextGen Bar and was on the NCBE Content Scope Committee.  Associate Professor Dennis Prieto from Rutgers Law School was a panelist at the conference.  Associate Professor Prieto is the one reference librarian on the NCBE Content Scope Committee, and we are interested in his thoughts on testing research skills.

Additionally, Dean Lisa Freudenheim of New England Law | Boston will address meeting attendees from the viewpoint of an administrator guiding the entire educational program for a law school. Dean Freudenheim has a background in academic support, which gives her a unique perspective on teaching and law school pedagogy.

As always, there will be an LLNE Business Meeting at lunch, opportunities to see new products from vendors and, most importantly, a chance to catch up with colleagues and friends.

The MCLE office is conveniently located within walking distance of South Station and the Red Line.

Many law libraries and many law librarians in New England have helped plan and host these semiannual events over the years. We all know the incredible amount of time and effort that goes into planning the meeting. Thank you to Kristin McCarthy and New England Law | Boston for hosting. Thank you to everyone who has hosted and planned a conference in the past. The tradition continues. Have a great spring semester.  

Spring 2023 Welcome Message

Welcome to a new year! As we begin this time of renewal, I’ve been thinking about the direction in which LLNE is headed. The executive board recently held a strategic planning retreat, and many of you participated in a survey about where LLNE currently is and where we should go over the next five years. You identified several strengths we have, like our people, that we’re innovative, and our programming. You also identified some areas of weakness, which the board hopes to address through the goals we set at the retreat. Look for more on those as the strategic plan takes shape.

Speaking of programming, I’m looking forward to the spring meeting on the NextGen bar exam, hosted by New England Law Boston at MCLE on April 14th! I hope to see you there. The NextGen bar exam, with its new focus on legal research, is a real opportunity for LLNE and its membership to work together on what students and new attorneys need to know.

The future of LLNE is bright, and that’s because of all of you, the LLNE membership. As we consider the direction in which we need to move, I am grateful that all of you are part of this strong, innovative organization.

Anna Lawless-Collins, LLNE President

Anna Lawless-Collins
Associate Director for Systems & Collection Services
Boston University
Fineman & Pappas Law Libraries

LLNE Fall 2022 Wrap-Up

Hi Everyone,

LLNE leadership hopes that everyone’s fall semester is wrapping up nicely and that you’re entering winter and the holiday season healthy.  LLNE has had a wonderful fall with lots of things happening that we wanted to update you about. 

The new Executive Board had its first meeting at the end of September, right before we held the Fall Conference in New Bedford.  The Bylaws Committee finished their work updating our Bylaws and those changes have been sent to AALL for approval.  Additionally the Statement of Ethical Principles was approved by the membership by 84.4%.  President Anna Lawless-Collins has placed a call for volunteers to join an ad hoc committee to help put those ethical principles into practice.  If you are interested in joining that committee please contact Anna to let her know.

On October 7th, LLNE gathered for its fall conference “Chasing the Law of Whaling into the 21st Century” in New Bedford at the Waypoint Event Center, with a trip to the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  Attendees had the privilege of hearing from Mark Procknik, the Museum’s Research Librarian; Professor K. Bercaw Edwards from the University of Connecticut; and, Professor Charles H. Norchi from University of Maine Law about the history of whaling in New Bedford, MA and learning about maritime legal research.  In the afternoon, attendees has the opportunity to check out the New Bedford Whaling Museum and to hear more from Librarian Mark Procknik.  Mark pulled some historical documents for attendees to look over and he gave another short presentation about some of the materials brought out.

Coming up in January, Executive Board members will be gathering for its annual winter retreat where members will be working on strategic planning for LLNE. Additionally, the spring LLNE meeting has been planned for April 14, 2023, hosted by The Law Library at New England Law and The Association of Boston Law Librarians (ABLL) and will focus on “A NextGen Curriculum for a NextGen Bar”.  Mark your calendars to join us!

Tech Committee Update – All About Jotform

So you’ve been dying to learn all about how we create the forms we use for events and things like that.  Or maybe you’re not, but I’m going to tell you anyway. And it would help to have some instructions somewhere.

Say there’s a meeting coming up and we need a form stat!  Fortunately, I don’t need to create a whole new form.  I can copy a form from an earlier meeting and reuse the content. We use Jotform for our meeting registrations, and that’s pretty easy to use. 

Screenshot of Jotform website, showing the orange "Create Form" button in the left-hand navigation, and a list of forms to the right.
Getting started with the form

To make the changes,  I’ll need the following info from the event organizers:

  • Name of meeting
  • Co-sponsor
  • Price
  • Questions for attendees (lunch, dine-arounds, etc.)

Update from the Service Committee

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” – Herman Melville

The Service Committee has been busy connecting LLNE/ABLL members with opportunities to help others. For the Fall 2022 Service Project, we solicited monetary support for the Whaling Museum and we sponsored a book drive to support Wash & Read, an initiative of United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Women United, which distributes books to local laundromats. Donations to the Whaling Museum helped the museum provide free programming, such as AHA! NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. We had great participation in the book drive, with members donating 36 books. We received a lovely thank you card from Paula Montgomery, Women United Director.

Our next service opportunity is in conjunction with the upcoming Virtual Trivia Night in January. One reason that we are sponsoring Action For Boston Community Development is because LLNE/ABLL members can choose to support a specific program, such as fuel assistance, food pantries & programs, winter fund, or have their donation applied where it is most needed. More details to follow soon.

Looking ahead to the Spring Service Project, we want to focus on a service activity that members can participate in. John, Stephanie, and I would love to have some company on the Service Committee! If you have some ideas or just love helping others (and what librarian doesn’t?) consider joining our awesome committee.

Government Relations Committee Update

On September 30, 2022, President Biden issued an Executive Order providing for reestablishment of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH).  The Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will co-lead the reinstituted PCAH and will provide advice to the President on policy goals, charitable and private sector engagement and other matters to improve federal support and funding for library and museum services, the arts, and the humanities. “This joint initiative acknowledges the essential role of . . . library services in our society and democracy including civic life, economic opportunity and development, health and wellness, education, equity, climate, and social cohesion. In the spirit of the order, IMLS will be developing partnerships with other federal agencies to advance opportunities to utilize the arts, humanities, museums, and libraries to connect communities across the country with important information and resources.” More information can be found at: President Biden Issues Executive Order Reestablishing President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH); IMLS Director to Co-Lead Committee (Oct. 3, 2022)

The UELMA in Massachusetts Subcommittee continues to advocate for passage of this legislation, and thanks all Massachusetts LLNE members who reached out to their legislators this past year to request support H.1597 – An Act Relative to the Uniform Electronic Material Act.  At latest report, H.1597 accompanied a study order from the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, and was referred to the Committee on Joint Rules.  If you are interested in working with us on UELMA advocacy, please let us know.

There is little to report at this point in the legislative sessions of our New England states, and we are continuing to monitor developments of interest to concerned law librarians.  If you become aware of legislative or policy developments of interest to law librarians, please contact Catherine or Emilie, GRC Co-chairs, who monitor Massachusetts and Rhode Island respectively, or your GRC state representatives/committee members:  Mary Tartaglia in Connecticut; Maureen Quinlan in Maine; Sue Zago in New Hampshire; and Jane Woldow in Vermont.  We will report any relevant information to the membership. 

Regular updates from the GRC and discussion posts appear on the AALL Advocates community list (it’s easy to sign up for the list if you’re not already receiving the emails.  Just click on “Participate” at the top of the page, select “AALL Advocates” and click “Join”). 

Best,

Catherine Biondo and Emilie Benoit, LLNE GRC Co-Chairs

Featured LLNE Library: Maine State Law & Legislative Reference Library

When Jennifer Locke started her job at the Maine State Law & Legislative Reference Library (LLRL), there wasn’t a single computer. Smoking indoors was normal, and one of the most contentious issues of the 112th Legislature was prohibiting it in public and in the workplace. Opponents of nuclear power, who had been trying for years to close the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant, finally passed a referendum to restrict disposal of radioactive waste. When Jennifer started here, the legislative history of either issue would’ve been delivered on a book truck. Today, the legislative history of both can be found in our digital repository, along with all Maine laws, legislation, chamber records, and statutes published since 1820.

Jennifer is our library’s longest serving librarian, and a treasure of institutional history. But her story in the Maine State House doesn’t begin in the library. As the daughter of a 4-term legislator, she remembers napping on the sofa in the House Speaker’s office and eating snacks with her brother and sister in the legislators retiring room. Jennifer started as a part-time circulation assistant in February 1985 and was eventually hired full-time as our government documents librarian (a position she still holds). In 1985, LLRL was a relatively new institution. Established by statute in 1971 as a nonpartisan office of the Maine Legislature, we had been part of the Maine State Library for 132 years. Our mandate is to provide “a comprehensive reference service on legislative problems for all members of the Legislature and its committees, equally and impartially” and “a law library for the use of all agencies of State Government, the judiciary, attorneys and citizens of Maine.”

LLRL is located in the North Wing of the Maine State House. Patrons from the 1970s would recognize the same stacks, tables, chairs, carrel desks, bookcases, and newsstand. If they’ve visited LLRL in the past 40 years, they’ll also recognize Beastie, our 27-foot-long philodendron, which Jennifer has tended since 2003. Jennifer has seen the library’s patrons change over the years. Before online legal research platforms were widely available, LLRL was full of private practice and government attorneys paging through huge sets of case reporters, legal citators, and treatises. Today, we serve most of our patrons over email, and our requests from citizens with legal questions have increased.

Every morning during the legislative session, Jennifer picks up bills and amendments from the document room and files them in the library. In Maine, we call our bills “legislative documents”, or LDs. The Legislature has considered over 42,000 of them in the past 37 years. Jennifer also maintains our Reference Data Book, which contains detailed records of frequently requested information, such as dates and length of sessions, acts of apportionment, and the composition of the Legislature. The library’s reference staff fields the broadest range of research requests from legislators and legislative staff. Many involve past actions of the Legislature – proposed bills, legislative histories of acts and statutes, and precedence for procedures on the chamber floors.

Legislative staff are critical to the preservation of the legislative institution. Legislators, parties, and controversial issues come and go, but permanent, nonpartisan staff ensure that the institution continues and improves. This is especially true of a legislative library, which is responsible for collecting, preserving, and providing access to the documents created by the lawmaking process. Jennifer’s service to the Maine Legislature has been an important contribution to this legacy.

Ad Hoc Committee Seeks Volunteers

The LLNE Executive Board has approved the formation of an ad hoc committee to implement the ethical principles approved by the Board and LLNE. The committee’s charge is as follows:

LLNE has approved a Statement of Ethical Principles. Recognizing that principles need actionable tools to become more than an empty statement, this ad hoc committee is charged with developing ways to put LLNE’s ethical principles into practice. The committee shall determine the appropriate format for their work in coordination with the LLNE Executive Board. The committee shall consist of a chair, or co-chairs, and such additional members as the President shall delegate.

Would you like to volunteer for this committee? There are spots available for one or two more members. Please reach out to LLNE President, Anna Lawless-Collins.