LRIP Public Librarian Scholarships

For the third year in a row the LLNE Service Committee, with the support of the LLNE Executive Board, is administering a scholarship for New England non-law public librarians to attend our chapter’s award-winning Legal Research Instruction Program. ( https://llne.org/legalresearchinstruction/intro_course/)

The LLNE Service Committee wishes to encourage and support access to legal information and education for New England-based librarians working in non-law public libraries. As part of its ongoing service initiative of outreach and service to local non-law public libraries, the Service Committee has elected to offer up to two scholarships for public librarians to attend LLNE’s annual Legal Research Instruction Program (LRIP).

Information about the scholarship can be found on the LLNE website (https://llne.org/committees/service/#publiclibrarianscholarships)

The application is also available online. (https://llne.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/LLNE_Intro_Scholarship_2016.docx)

The deadline for submission is Monday, February 29, 2016.

Completed applications should be sent to Nicole Dyszlewski at ndyszlewski@rwu.edu.

We are advertising this scholarship on various listservs throughout our region. We are asking all members to share this announcement widely and to recommend this scholarship for those public librarians who may be interested in a law-related professional development opportunity.

If you have any questions, please email one of our committee co-chairs, Jessica Jones (jjones@socialaw.com) or Joshua LaPorte (joshua.laporte@uconn.edu)

Service Committee Update

By the Service Committee

The Service Committee has continued to focus its efforts on making connections and building partnerships with public libraries in the New England region.

For the second year in a row, the Service Committee worked with the LLNE Education Committee and the Legal Research Instruction Program (LRIP) to offer two scholarships to New England area public librarians interested in taking the LRIP course. The two librarians who received the scholarships this year were Jeanne Bent of the Hope Public Library in Scituate, RI and Kathleen Clifford of the Boston Public Library in Boston, MA.

The Service Committee is also moving forward with its yet-to-be-named web portal project. The project aims to provide public libraries with one portal for comprehensive information on the legal research and information landscape across New England. Our committee members have started working to compile this resource by reviewing existing tools and projects by law librarians, bar associations, courts and legal aid conglomerates in each of the states. The committee hopes to have some piece of the portal ready and online by the annual meeting. Once complete, the web portal will be hosted on the LLNE website.

In tandem with the web portal project, the Service Committee is interested in creating a network of law librarians throughout New England who are willing to serve as resources to public librarians with legal research questions. The network of librarians will include individuals willing to be “on-call” for questions that may arise in their state of in their area of expertise, but also individuals willing to travel within their local area to provide in-person, basic legal research trainings to public librarians. If you or any of your colleagues are interested in serving as a trainer or on-call librarian for your state or in your area of expertise, please contact Rebecca Martin of the Service Committee.

Theory into Practice: CALI Author

by Brian Flaherty

In my inaugural “Theory into practice” column, I talked about taking some of the great things I took away from the AALL conference in San Antonio, and putting them into practice in my Advanced Legal Research class – specifically I had students take pictures of things that they thought were, or should be regulated. My experience incorporating this into my class was great – it went smoothly, wasn’t as much work as I thought it would be, and inspired some clear understanding of the difference between statutes, regulations, and ordinances.

Of course, my co-teacher pointed out that while everything I wrote was indeed true, I was painting an unduly rosy picture of my success in incorporating all of those nifty conference take-aways. That not everything I’ve learned-there and tried-here has gone as… smoothly as what I wrote. Perhaps, she said, I should write about something that was significantly harder to incorporate. Perhaps I should write about my experiences with CALI Author.

Why CALI Author

We’re all familiar with CALI Lessons – and we are all familiar with the fruitless search for the perfect CALI lesson: the one that will help students learn about publication patterns, online indexing, disposition tables – the things we want them to know, but don’t want to spend the time on in class. Don’t get me wrong – there is some great CALI stuff out there (some of it written by people I hope are reading this article) – but nothing that was perfect for my purposes. So several years ago, I came upon the brilliant idea to write my own. I could write it specific to my need, and could customize it to reflect internal library resources.

I downloaded an earlier iteration of CALI Author, with manual, thinking “I’m reasonably good at this stuff – I can make this work.” I proceeded to spend the next two hours feeling like I was back in the early 90s, trapped in HyperCard for Mac (for those of you who took that class at Simmons, you know what I mean). And so thinking “I’m a reasonably good teacher, I can get by with existing CALI lessons,” I deleted this earlier iteration of CALI Author, with manual.

A visit to the most recent CALI conference at Harvard convinced me to try again. Furthermore, CALI’s ever helpful Deb Quentel promised me that if I couldn’t make Author bend to my will, she would help. And so I downloaded it at the beginning of last summer, read the manual, and started making sample pages, sample questions, sample links, and saving sample lessons.

When you get the hang of it, CALI Author is clunky, but no big deal, really. In short order you can learn to learned to create pages that lead to other pages, you can create scored multiple choice exams, even add and manipulate images. But then, for example, you discover that you’ve made a mistake on page three of a twelve page lesson, so you edit or delete page three, and KA-BLAMO, everything you’ve done vanishes, only to be found in an alphabetical list of pages at the end of the list, which you didn’t know existed until AFTER that panicked Email to Deb Quentel (Thank You!). There’s a whole series I could write called “Squashing the CALI Author Bugs” – but in the interest of time I will tell you that there are many traps for the unwary, but two things proved invaluable: first, the folks at CALI – especially the ever helpful Deb Quintel – are geniuses of patience and service. And second, there is a YouTube video series that includes a great tutorial series – far easier than the manual.

AutoPublish

So now that you’ve got your perfect CALI Author lesson, what do you do with it? The process of actually publishing a CALI lesson for public consumption takes some time – far too long if, like me, the lesson you’re writing is for use in your class next week. So CALI Author gives you the ability to publish something privately and make it available by sending the lesson URL – “AutoPublish.” Furthermore, if your students log in to CALI before doing the lesson, you can track them through the AutoPublish link on your dashboard. Again, be forewarned, the process is not as straightforward as perhaps you’d expect; you have to publish the lesson, and upload each media file separately – and every time you go back into the lesson it appears as though you have to re-upload all of the media (you don’t). But the ability to have them host the lesson that you can run privately is great.

Editing existing lessons

One of the really great features you get with CALI Author is the ability to download existing CALI Lessons and adapt them for your purposes, to target your students. For example, let’s say there is an especially great lesson that covers print statutory research, and you want to use the same structure but incorporate online research. You can download the lesson and open it up in CALI Author, then edit the images, questions, and “book pages” to include an online component. You are not editing the CALI lesson as it appears at http://www.cali.org; when you are finished, you need to AutoPublish it and send it out to your students. But it’s a great shortcut to creating targeted lessons, while avoiding some of the complex and time-consuming outlining.

Epilogue

You eventually manage to create what you think is the perfect CALI lesson, comparing KeyCite Shepards an BCite, showing the fallibility of citators, showing the conflicting treatment notes. You test it, you show it off, and it works nicely. But don’t get complacent… things can STILL go awry. After this steep learning curve, I finally released a lesson to do just this- point out some of the flaws and contradictory information found in citators. And wouldn’t you know it… in just one semester, one of the vendors changed their citation information! Oh well – back to the drawing board (ps: if anyone is interested, that lesson is here: http://www.cali.org/node/15905/)

Theory into Practice: Teaching with Social Media

By Brian Flaherty

Back in July I blogged about using social media as a tool to teach legal research – the post was a review of a “deep dive” program I went to at the AALL Annual Meeting.  Going into the program I was incredibly skeptical.  I was imagining spending a good deal of time “getting up to speed” with different media and platforms, only to be met with the same eye-roll from students that I get from my kids when I give them advice on especially nifty IPhone Apps.   Nevertheless, I came away from the program with some ideas for using social media in teaching – or at least turning over some of the control to the students.

One of the ideas that came out of the program was incorporating Instagram in teaching research: have students take pictures of things they think are or should be regulated, and upload them  for others to work with.  In (or before) class, we could have students look for applicable laws and regulations – teasing out the differences between things that are dealt with in the statutes vs. things that are dealt with through administrative regulation.  Also, given the number of research exercises we have our students do, I imagined this as an opportunity to have them create some of the research exercises rather than us.

I decided to try this idea – ironically, minus the traditional “social media” aspect.  I had students take pictures and send them to me – and I used them to create a classroom presentation and exercises.  But honestly, the idea of creating an Instagram site for our class, and having everyone log into it (or subscribe to it, or follow it, or whatever one does to Instagram) was daunting.  I realized, though, that in terms of this being a “social media” exercise, I realized that we didn’t have to use one of the major platforms (Instagram) for it to be “social media.”   Having them take pictures, send them to me, and then share them with the class was a social media based exercise.

The whole thing worked out as well as I could have imagined.  I gave students two weeks to take and send pictures (I sent out the assignment the week before spring break).  In addition, I told them to spend a bit of time – no more than a half hour – looking up whatever laws and regulations they could find on their subject.  Send the photo and the regulating authority to me by email.  I created a powerpoint of most of the photographs, which we cycled through in class, researching each thing in turn.  It took a good deal of preparation on our part to know where we wanted to guide the discussion for each – but to be honest, this preparation was more enjoyable than struggling to come up with interesting topics to research.

We got a huge variety of photographs to work with – from pictures of homeless people (laws against vagrants, vagabonds and tramps, panhandling ordinances), to pictures of overflowing trash in Boston (Sanitary code, Boston City Ordinances), to a picture of a hot chocolate vending machine (Rhode Island: milk product dispensed from a vending machine).  One person took a picture of his bedroom ceiling and wrote “why is there no light on my ceiling?”  (Sanitary code: light and electric outlets in habitable rooms).  In doing these exercises in class students had do some involved searching – they had to use statutory and regulatory schemes, they had to find city ordinances, and we had them track down enabling legislation.

We will absolutely do this kind of exercise again next year.  Student were actively engaged, it got us working with unfamiliar topics, and we would up talking about why different things are governed by different types of authority, i.e. statutes vs. regulations vs. ordinances.   From here, I’m going back to my AALL notes to figure out: what other cool things are my colleagues doing that I can adapt?

Teaching legal research… with social media?

Early on I went to one of the “Deep Dives” – the longer programs towards the beginning of the conference.  “Inventing the new classroom.”  Now I will admit a certain skepticism going in; at this point I’ve been to about 127 “Flipping the classroom” presentations, and while I try to remain receptive to new ideas, the ideas just don’t seem that new anymore.

I was wrong.

The presenters were fantastic, the way they presented was interactive, fun, and peppered with concrete examples and suggestions (I love going away with material I can implement in upcoming classes).  I’m duty bound at this point to write an article for the ALL-SIS newsletter on this, but I wanted to share a few of the ideas that came out of the program:

One of the speakers talked about using Social Media as a teaching tool – playing into my skepticism.  “Social media” says I, “I cannot imagine such a thing in the class – and frankly, students don’t want you in their social media teaching research.”  But a few folks had some really cool suggestions, that I’m going to try to implement:

  • Take pictures  – or better yet, have students take pictures – of things that you think are (or ought to be) subject to regulation.  Upload them to instagram, and then divvy them up in class, trying to find the relevant regulation(s) or statute(s).   This is a great opportunity to talk about what kinds of things are regulated vs. what kinds of things are subject to statutory control.
  • Again use instagram, but have students upload photos of signs where a controlling statute or regulation is actually noted on the sign.
  • Create a blog, and have students do blog posts, and most importantly: have them create tags for these posts.  Great way to teach about indexing, controlled vocabulary, subject access – you know: headnotes.  I suppose the blog posts could be related to just about anything….
  • Have students create checklists or flowcharts for a legal research process (e.g. “researching something controlled by regulations.”).  Have them give this flowchart to another student to follow to precisely  & see how accurately they’ve described the research process.  This recalls challenges of my youth: “write step-by-step instructions for making a fluffernutter – now give it to someone and have them follow it precisely” (which always ended with fluff and peanut butter covering everything, and no sandwich).  PS: if you’re going to do this, you cannot have shown them the appendix to Amy Sloan’s research books, which include such charts.

OK, so this last one isn’t exactly social media – but it does sound kind of cool, right?  There is more to come on this “Deep Dive,” but I wanted to whet the appetites of our abundant readership.

ABLL Meeting

Fellow law librarians,

Don’t miss an interesting breakfast program being hosted by ABLL on Wednesday, October 21st, at Suffolk University Law School.

Betsy McKenzie and Susan Vaughn will present on their research into how computer assisted legal research may be affecting how lawyers do legal analysis. Following this brief presentation, we will have a round table to explore how firm and academic librarians can work together to better prepare new associates for the demands of real world research.

Academic librarians – come and learn what firm librarians think we should be teaching! Firm librarians – come and hear about programs academic librarians are working on to teach students research skills!

For more details, see the ABLL announcement at: http://www.abll.org/pdf/abllinviteoct2009.pdf