LLNE Annual Report Submitted to AALL

Submitted by Catherine Biondo, LLNE President 2018-2019

Officers and Committee Chairs

The LLNE officers and committee chairs for 2018-2019 were Catherine Biondo, President; Robert (Bob) DeFabrizio, Vice President/President-Elect; Nicole Dyszlewski, Secretary; Richard (Rick) Buckingham, Treasurer; Ellen Frentzen, Immediate Past President; Danitta Wong and Shira Megerman, Education Directors; Michael VanderHeijden, Access to Justice chair; Stefanie Weigmann, Archives & History chair; Diane D’Angelo and Michelle Pearse, Communications chairs; Emilie Benoit and Anne McDonald, Government Relations chairs; Raquel Ortiz, Membership Development chair; Kathy Fletcher, Scholarships chair; Jessica Almeida, Service chair; Artie Berns and Alex Burnett, Technology chairs. 

Additionally, I appointed an ad hoc Nominations Committee to identify officer candidates for 2019-2020, consisting of Nuchine Nobari, chair; Christine Iaconeta; and Kirsten Leary. 

Chapter Highlights

In addition to the terrific work undertaken by our committees (see the reports below), there were a few other items of note this year.  First, we adopted a new logo after a successful campaign begun last year.  From a total of 5 entrants, offering more than 32 creative design entries, we selected Rachel Bates’ mountain and waves logo, which you’ll see featured on the website and on member promotional materials.  My thanks to the Logo Design Committee, Ana Isabel Delgado Valentin, Rebecca Bearden and Emma Wood, for their efforts.  Second, in the interest of bettering the member experience, Vice President/President-Elect Bob DeFabrizio conducted a “Listening Tour” in each New England state to gather insight from members on what works and what doesn’t in LLNE.  We thank everyone who participated – and the institutions that hosted us – and look forward to using what we learned to make LLNE the best it can be.  Finally, with member input, I responded on behalf of LLNE to a solicitation from the AALL Executive Board for input on Boston’s candidacy to host the AALL Annual Meeting in 2023.  We were delighted to learn that Boston was ultimately selected.   

Access to Justice Committee

The Committee continues to focus on three initiatives: Legal Link; educational programming for public librarians; and promotion of regional access to justice projects.

New Legal Link content includes an explainer about the importance of written library policies on providing legal reference services (includes examples of policies used in public law libraries), a piece differentiating between legal services referral options for patrons, and handouts for public librarians listing free and low-cost legal help options in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont (Rhode Island coming soon). This content was created in response to concerns public librarians expressed during panel discussions the committee participates in with their communities.

In October, we presented at the New England Library Association on “Law, Technology, and Access to Justice in New England.” This was followed up in February with a panel for public librarians at Rhode Island’s Office of Library & Information Services continuing education program, “I’m Not a Lawyer or Doctor: Providing Patrons the Information They Need While Keeping Your Professional Integrity and Sanity.” We drafted a proposal on “Access to Justice, Public Libraries, and Writing Effective Service Policies” and submitted it to the New England Library Association for its next annual meeting in October 2019. Finally, we awarded two scholarships for public librarians to attend LLNE’s Legal Research Instruction Program. The librarians are employed by Boston Public Library and Southborough Public Library.

The Legal Link Twitter feed continues to highlight regional access to justice initiatives for an audience of public libraries, librarians, legal aid and access to justice organizations.

Finally, in May we held a joint retreat with the LLNE Service Committee where we reviewed recent projects and generated ideas for future initiatives.  These include targeted outreach to public librarians, prisoners, and other potential audiences through written contributions in ALA newsletters and Prison Legal News.  We also plan to convene a session on Access to Justice technologies for court personnel, members of the bar and other interested parties in Rhode Island this fall.

Archives & History Committee

This year, we started planning an overhaul to the current practices of LLNE with regard to preservation of LLNE documents and other ephemera.  Considerations include collection and storage of electronic documents, collection and storage of physical documents and storage of physical objects.  Plans include reaching out to past presidents to collect physical and electronic documents and any objects, creating a repository of electronic documents to which scanned physical documents will be added and hosting a discussion retention and possible storage options for physical objects.  Future plans include possible survey of standards for institutional repositories at law libraries both firm and academic.

Communications Committee

The Communications & Technology Committee split into two separate committees to serve the membership better.  Rather than have Technology remain under the umbrella of the Communications Committee, it now has its own representation and voice on the Board to address website management and other matters of concern to the organization. 

With Technology its own entity, we were able to focus more on promotion of the organization’s activities and member accomplishments, as well as on outreach efforts.  We created and filled a blog and social media editor position as one of our first goals for the year.  And, as we do each year, we created a display poster for the AALL Annual Meeting and prepared promotional materials for the CONELL table. 

Education Committee

This fall, to experiment with a new meeting format, we hosted a free 2-hour webinar on Thursday, December 6, 2018, on the theme ofFailures to Fixes: How You Took an L and Turned it into a W,” with 30+ registered attendees. The topics included “Walk the Talk: Replacing the Job Talk with a Technical Interview,” and “Perma.cc: One Answer to a Major Failure”.

Brian Flaherty returned this spring as leader of LLNE’s 6-week Library Research Instruction Program (LRIP), held at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA.  Brian, along with other law librarians from within our membership, taught 11 students hands-on introductory legal research on topics from administrative law to legislative history.

LLNE’s Spring Meeting was hosted by Western New England University School of Law on April 4, 2019.  37 attendees joined us for a day long presentation in Northampton, MA on the theme of “Gender and Sexuality Law.”

Planning is currently underway for the 2019 Fall Meeting, to be held at Harvard Law School, on the subject of artificial intelligence in law libraries.  For the future, we are considering having one in-person meeting per academic year rather than two, with additional webinars or small-scale events. 

Government Relations Committee

The UELMA in Massachusetts bill was introduced once again in the 2019 legislative session. At the LLNE Spring Meeting, fifteen LLNE members volunteered to help pass UELMA in Massachusetts. Five of these LLNE members agreed to write letters of support to their state senators, as their senators are on the Joint Committee of the Judiciary to which H. 3294 was referred. Of these five, two LLNE members live in the district of the Senator who is Co-Chair of the Joint Committee.  No hearing date has been set.

Our individual New England state representatives are diligently tracking legislative activities in their state. We will keep our membership informed.

Membership Development Committee

LLNE Membership processing moved this past fall from manual processing of forms to memberships via the LLNE website. This aim is faster processing of memberships and listserv additions, simplified meeting registration, and a way for LLNE to deliver exclusive content to members.

As of the last membership year, we had 234 members and 10 life members. We also welcomed 17 new or returning members. 

Scholarships Committee

We consolidated the scholarship application forms and updated them on the LLNE website.  This year was otherwise a quiet one for Scholarships.  The Fall Meeting was ‘virtual” (a webinar) and free of charge to attend, so no scholarships were needed.  There were no applicants for the Spring Meeting.  We awarded one member a scholarship to the AALL Annual Meeting, but the recipient later declined the award.

Service Committee

This year, we partnered with the Rhode Island State Archives to transcribe historical documents.  On November 16, 2018, we hosted a Transcription Party at the Roger Williams School of Law Providence Campus.  During the two-hour event, members transcribed pages from the Women’s Suffrage Association collection, helping make these fascinating historical documents more accessible to everyone.  See the article “Hosting a Successful Transcription Party”, 23 AALL Spectrum 42 (2019) for more information. 

At the Spring Meeting, we are continued our work with the Rhode Island Archives by asking members to transcribe documents from the comfort of their home or office.  Over 20 members pledged to transcribe 5 or more pages. 

Finally, alongside the Access to Justice Committee, we hosted a retreat in June to discuss goals and brainstorm projects for the upcoming year.

Technology Committee

As a newly created committee (formerly under Communications), we had a busy year, working on the following:

  • Transition of our e-mail list from to Mail-List. The transition was successful, allowing for increased reliability and multiple specialized LLNE email lists. 
  • Adoption of MemberPress which permits, among other things, members- only content on the website and automation of the new member signup & dues collection processes.
  • Search engine optimization, which should help accessibility, discoverability and security of llne.org.
  • Various updates/adjustments/fixes to website/blog, including implementation of new LLNE Logo and color scheme.
  • Recovery of the website from a hack, and taking steps to prevent future attacks, including cleaning up unused WordPress applications and themes, reviewing lists of users and resetting user passwords.

Right now we have several other items in process:

  • Cleanup of website in general, including designation of pages to committees, and editing of the menu
  • WAVE Accessibility Analysis, including minor accessibility improvements to llne.org homepage and other main pages.
  • Cleanup of listserv (removal of former members/superfluous email addresses
  • Work with Membership Committee to make sure current members use MemberPress to sign up.

Annual Report 2018

Annual Report 2017