Exciting News about the LLNE Legal Research Instruction Program

By Ellen Phillips, LLNE Education Committee Co-Chair

Each Spring LLNE offers a six-week legal research instruction program for librarians in the New England area who would like to learn about law librarianship. For many years, this unique course has been offering instruction in various legal topics.

Beginning this year, one class of the Legal Research Instruction Program (LRIP), the section on Case Law, will be taught online. The rest of the classes will be held in person on Tuesday evenings at Suffolk Law in Boston as it has been for the past two years.

Each topic is taught by academic law librarians who are members of LLNE and is overseen by Reference Librarian Brian Flaherty from New England Law.

Currently Brian, along with Susan Vaughn, a legal information librarian from Boston College Law Library, is working together to create a lesson plan to teach caselaw online.  All of the instructors volunteer to donate their time to participate in LRIP, and the students have the benefit of being taught by a variety of information professionals who are also experts in their field.

Class participants are varied in their background and career goals. The class traditionally has an even mix of public, academic, and law firm librarians, as well as the occasional pupil who is considering library school. This ensures a lively mix of skills and experience, but it was noted that the majority of the participants are from the greater Boston area. It is hoped that by offering a hybrid format, LLNE will be able to encourage librarians who live further away to consider attending.

This year’s Legal Instruction class will run from March 14th through April 25th. Classes will not be held on April 18th. A description the program is available at the LLNE website. The deadline to register is Friday, March 7th.

The Education Committee is excited about this change and welcomes any feedback. The members of the committee are Greg Ewing, Brian Flaherty, Bonnie Gallagher, Elliott Hibbler, Jessica Lundgren, Ellen Phillips, and Susan Vaughn.

Legal Tech: Firefox Hello

By Carli Spina

These days, our patrons are always on the move. Whether this means a lawyer who is traveling for a client or a law student who is studying abroad, law librarians increasingly are faced with providing high quality reference service over long distances. While this frequently means lots of emails, this isn’t always the best way to answer questions or demonstrate techniques. Moreover, email can’t reproduce the personal interaction of a face-to-face meeting. Many libraries have experimented with using video chat to improve these long distance interactions, but often these tools have required that both the librarian and the patron have software pre-installed on their computer, which can be difficult depending on the technological skills possessed by the patron among other variables. Firefox Hello, a new chat tool from Firefox addresses many of these issues and offers a nice way to connect more personally with patrons no matter where they may be.

One of the greatest advantages of Hello is that it requires no login or account. Anyone with the latest version of Firefox installed on their computer may start a Hello session by clicking on a chat bubble icon at the top of the browser window as seen below without having to create an account or install a separate application.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 10.12.24 PM

Clicking on the chat bubble reveals a dropdown menu as seen below. The menu includes your Hello history and the option to launch a new conversation. Each new conversation can be named and then you can email or copy the URL to share with anyone. To join the conversation, the recipient of the link need only be using a WebRTC-supported browser. This means anyone who has access to Firefox, Chrome, or Opera will be able to accept your conversation invitation simply by clicking on the link and then clicking on the join the conversation button in the resulting window.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 10.18.56 PM

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 8.12.17 AM

Once a chat has been initiated, participants will enter into a video chat window if they have a web camera enabled on their computer. However, at any point, a participant may choose to mute either the audio or the video on their side of the conversation.

While all of these features make Hello very useful and usable, what really sets it apart is the screensharing options that are integrated into this tool. Using this feature, either party can share either the tabs in their browser or any other window they have open on their computer. This makes Hello an invaluable tool for collaborating on projects, troubleshooting technical difficulties that patrons may encounter, or demonstrating tricky navigation or search techniques in databases.

Whether the patron is in another building on campus or in another country, Hello’s features can make online reference interactions more personal and effective. If this sounds like a tool that would be useful to your patrons, you can learn more about the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy or take a tour.

LLNE Legal Link Launches!

By the LLNE Service Committee

The Service Committee is proud to announce that LLNE Legal Link, our legal research web portal, is now live and you can access it here and from the LLNE homepage. We will be debuting the website at AALL this week in Philadelphia, passing out postcards at the LLNE booth, so be sure to help spread the word!

The idea behind Legal Link was to create a legal research portal for public librarians, where they can find relevant legal information for the New England region all in one place. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Legal Link will serve largely as a curator of legal content – linking out to resources that LLNE members trust and use often so that non-law librarians in the region will have quick and easy access to useful reference materials. Because the portal is freely accessible from our website, we also anticipate it serving as a tool for pro-se individuals who are navigating the legal research world on their own.

As of now, the site hosts a directory of public law libraries available in each state, as well as information on how a bill becomes a law in each New England state. Going forward, we hope to grow Legal Link by connecting its users to local legal aid organizations, legal research guides for a variety of topics, best practices, and links to state statutes, court rules, regulations, and more. While the main goal of Legal Link is to serve as a clearinghouse for legal information, we are also interested in creating commentary and new content to help explain how to adequately use these resources.

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.


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.


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/)

AALL Report on State Online Documents


A significant number of the state online legal resources are official but none are authenticated or afford ready authentication by standard methods. State online primary legal resources are therefore not sufficiently trustworthy. Citizens and law researchers may reasonably doubt their authority and should approach such resources critically.

There are included individual reports of all the New England States.

Source: WisBlawg