I am Anne Rajotte, the chair of the Access to Justice Committee. I am joined this year by three members: Dana Lucisano, Misty Peltz-Steele, and Sara McMahon. The Committee is actively seeking opportunities for outreach to public libraries and the community generally. Some possible initiatives this year include creating additional informational resources through Legal Link and submitting proposals to present at regional library conferences on topics related to assisting public library patrons with locating reliable legal information.
This fall’s virtual meeting, which focuses on technology and access to justice, should provide some inspiration and ideas for how law librarians can use their skills and resources to begin to bridge the justice gap. As our profession combines information seeking, legal knowledge, and technological innovation, we are natural participants in the movement to increase access to justice.
The Access to Justice Committee welcomes new members! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining us.
AALL recently updated its legislative priorities for the 117th Congress. These include:
Funding to support the legal information industry
Equitable access to official legal information
Privacy protections for law library users
We encourage you to visit the Government Relations Section of AALLNET for more information on AALL’s policy positions, an advocacy toolkit, the AALL Legislative Action Center, and more. And, if you haven’t already, we encourage you to join the AALL Advocates Community, to receive regular advocacy updates, including news posts from members of AALL’s Government Relations Committee.
On the UELMA front, the U.S. Virgin Islands just became the 23rd jurisdiction to enact the legislation. Here in New England, the Massachusetts UELMA bill, H.1597, has been referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Many thanks to LLNE’s Massachusetts members for your willingness to write to your representatives to seek (co)sponsorship, and to the members of the UELMA in MA Subcommittee for your tireless efforts to see this important legislation advance.
Feel free to contact either of us with questions or ideas. We would also welcome your involvement with the committee.
– Catherine Biondo and Emilie Benoit, LLNE GRC Co-Chairs
We are excited to announce, the LLNE Fall Conference, will be held November 12th online.
Entitled, [In}accessible Justice: Innovation, Technology, and Solutions, it will focus on the intersection of technology and access to justice and explore ways that technology can help to bridge the justice gap. The day will begin with speakers from the National Center for State Courts defining the justice gap and discussing existing approaches to address it. The following panels will explore ways technology can improve access to legal assistance, information, and institutions. Speakers from technology firms, nonprofits, law firms, law schools, courts, and bar associations will discuss their initiatives and how they have used technology to address an identified need.
A lot of research and location scouting was done to find a COVID safe location for the Fall 2021 meeting. Sadly, after monitoring health recommendations and local and regional COVID-19 developments, it was decided to not hold an in person meeting.
As the new LLNE president I wanted to take a moment and welcome everyone to this new membership year. In many ways, this year seems dishearteningly similar to last year, with all the uncertainty, anxiety, and apprehension about how the pandemic might affect our personal and professional lives. Our immediate past president, Nicole Dyszlewski, along with LLNE volunteers on and off the Executive Board, dedicated enormous quantities of time and energy to provide opportunities for us to continue to learn, engage with each other, and enjoy each other’s company — even without the luxury of face-to-face gatherings. Special thanks to all of you as well as to the following outgoing members of the Executive Board:
Bob de Fabrizio, outgoing past president, Manager of Law Libraries, MA Trial Courts
Ellen Frenzen, outgoing co-chair of the Communications Committee, Assistant Dean for Administration at Boston University Law School
Anne McDonald, outgoing co-chair of the Government Relations Committee, Law Library Coordinator, Rhode Island Dept. of the Attorney General
AnnaKatherine Wherren: outgoing chair of Scholarships Committee, Legal Research Librarian, Suffolk University Law School
I’d also like to welcome the incoming board members:
Catherine Biondo, co-chair of the Government Relations Committee, Research Librarian, Harvard Law Library
Kaitlin Connolly, co-chair of the Service Committee, Reference Librarian, State Library of Massachusetts
Josh LaPorte, vice president, president-elect, Head of Access Services, Boston University Law Library
Anne Rajotte, chair of the Access to Justice Committee, Head of Reference Services, University of Connecticut Law Library
Dawn Smith, chair of the Scholarships Committee, Head of Acquisitions, Yale Law School
LLNE means different things to each of us. For the 2012 version of me, membership simply meant seasonal meetings and the potential for engaging more with the LLNE community – once my infant and toddler daughters got a little older. In 2021, it means working with and learning from a group of awesome people from across New England. It’s also meant drawing cartoon llamas with other LLNE families and getting a glimpse of what executive board members’ canine companions think of them. Whatever this year brings, I hope we are able to find ways to continue to connect with each other.
This Spring, the committee organized three projects to coincide with the LLNE FUNtivities and Spring Virtual Meeting.
Our first project was raising money for NEADS Prison Pup Program. NEADS is an organization that provides service dogs to veterans, people with physical disabilities, individuals with autism, and even assistance dogs that work in hospitals and courthouses. 90-95% of NEADS puppies are trained in correctional institutions in New England through their Prison Pup Program. Through the generosity of our members, we have raised over $1,300. If you would like to give to this wonderful organization, please visit https://support.neads.org/llne.
Our second project was creating cards and decorated lunch bags for Meals on Wheels locations throughout New England. The committee is happy to report that members have pledged to create over 300 cards and bags. Please remember to take a photo of your creations and use the #LLNEFuntivities on Twitter. The sign-up form is now closed, but if you are interested in contributing to this project, please email Jessica at email@example.com.
Don’t forget to register for the June 11th (this Friday!) screening and discussion of the acclaimed documentary Coded Bias. The event starts at 7pm EST: tinyurl.com/xr5dm9wf. The filmmaker, Shalini Kantayya, has also compiled an activist toolkit for those interested in becoming advocates for “algorithmic justice.” If any LLNE members would like to get involved, page 24 of the toolkit lists recommended organizations to which you can subscribe and make donations.
Another way to get involved is by signing the Universal Declaration of Data Rights as Human Rights, which was developed by the Coded Bias team. Upon signature, your name and zip code are sent to US elected officials. The committee is encouraging members to sign the declaration if they are interested in further supporting this cause.
VP/President-Elect: Josh LaPorte, Head of Circulation, Boston University, Fineman & Pappas Law Libraries Treasurer: Rachel Weiss, Research Librarian, Nixon Peabody Education Director: Maureen Quinlan, Reference & Gov Doc Law Librarian, University of Maine School of Law
In conjunction with the Law Librarians of New England (LLNE) FUNtivities , the Service Committee is raising funds for NEADS, an organization that provides service dogs to veterans, people with physical disabilities, individuals with autism, and even assistance dogs that work in hospitals and courthouses.
The money we raise will go to the Prison PUP Program. According to NEADS “90-95% of NEADS puppies are trained in 7 correctional facilities throughout New England. Our statistics show that, under the guidance of NEADS staff, inmates are able to provide consistent training at a high level simply because of the amount of time they are able to devote to the dogs. This enables us to place dogs faster with people in need.”
As my 2019-2021 term, as one of the Educational Directors draws nearer to the end I wanted to reflect on this time. Like everyone else I thought this commitment would be the usual experiences of some in-person conferences and some telephone meetings.
LLNE has two Educational Directors. Each serves two years with the terms ending on different years. My term started in July 2019. I did not attend the annual AALL meeting in 2019 in Washington, D.C. as I was at a family reunion. I was without a care and thought I would attend the meeting in July of 2020 in Cincinnati.
One strange thing about being one of the co-Educational Directors is attending meetings and thanking hosts for work done by previous Educational Directors. My first LLNE Conference as Educational Director was hosted by the Harvard Law Library and was on Artificial Intelligence and Algorithms in Law Libraries and Legal Practice. Little did we know this was the last in-person conference that would be planned for a long time.
One of the many wonderful experiences working with LLNE has been meeting so many dynamic and creative law librarians. There was a resilience and a commitment to moving forward during challenging times. LLNE leadership stepped up as COVID-19 protocols were put in place and planned a virtual spring 2020 conference. Summer gave way to fall and COVID-19 would not allow an in person conference. So, the University of Connecticut Law Library planned a virtual Fall Conference. Suffolk will host a virtual conference in the late spring of this year.
We will meet virtually for the AALL Annual Meeting this summer. When the new academic year starts and the leaves fall again LLNE will again plan and host the meeting. The traditions will continue.
Like most things during the pandemic, being responsible for the LLNE Archives has been challenging since the committee can’t visit the Archives in person. So your Archives committee is trying to see what we can do to create a digital archive and come up with policies to use going forward. The committee is currently made up of Dana Lusciano, a reference librarian at Silas Bronson Library in Waterbury Connecticut, Andrew Roache, the Associate Law Librarian at the Maine State Law and Legislative Library in Augusta Maine, Olga Umansky, the librarian and archivist for the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute in Newton Massachusetts, and Stefanie Weigmann, the Associate Director for Research and Instruction at Boston University School of Law in Boston Massachusetts. Andrew has been reaching out to past presidents to see what digital materials they might have in their files, Dana has been looking at how other regional organizations organize their archives, and Olga has been drafting a collection document. Our main goal is to grow and organize our Archives.
So while we are still in COVID we would like to reach out to you. Do you have any pictures or other interesting digital materials from events or committees you served on during your time with LLNE? Please send it to Andrew.Roache@legislature.maine.gov.