Reflection on the LLNE Fall Meeting

by Rebecca Valentine, Associate Librarian, UMass Law

The fall meeting topic The Fog of War: International and Foreign Legal Research was certainly timely; I think more than anyone realized it would be at the time it was organized. The keynote and subsequent four sessions approached the topic differently, but still shared the common theme of the ways emerging technologies are impacting aspects of international law and information.

However, I must admit that my biggest take away was not just that we need to consider the impact of technology on information, disinformation, and the dissemination of both. But something more personal. About six months ago I transitioned from being a reference archivist to being a public services librarian at the UMass Law Library. While I loved the collections and the work I was doing at the archives, it was time to move on to learn new skills and better utilize the research skills I had already built up.

Entering the field of law librarianship has been both a challenge and a pleasure. The work can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to learning the vocabulary needed to help students and faculty. Sometimes I need to do an hour of research before I can even begin working on the reference question I received. Those situations can be a blow to my confidence in my reference and research abilities.

But one thing I have found comforting, is that the work of public services remains the same; and when I have had the chance to talk to other librarians about these public services, my legal vocabulary doesn’t matter.

One of the chances I recently received to have these discussions was the LLNE 2023 Fall Conference. What I found there was that law librarianship, more than almost any other field I’ve worked in, has been one of the most welcoming and supportive to newer librarians. While I had the privilege of being there with a colleague who facilitated introductions, I don’t think that would have changed the graciousness of the other librarians. Upon being introduced to many different people from all over New England, each librarian was willing to talk to me about the work I’m doing at UMass Law, and the work I would like to do in the future.

The experience made me realize that while I may not know all the buzzwords, keywords, or headnotes, all of that will come with time. But the skills I do have, mean that my work is still good and valuable. From participating in the Service Committee and helping to decide on and promote the fall service project, to attending the conference, being a part of LLNE has made me feel assured in my new career.

Government Relations Committee Update

Members of the GRC are continuing to track state legislation of interest to law librarians.  

In Massachusetts, Representative Gentile filed H.1522, An Act relative to the Uniform Electronic Material Act, and it has been referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. UELMA requires that online state legal material deemed official will be preserved and made permanently available to the public in unaltered form, and has been adopted in 22 states, plus Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Although past iterations of this bill have not been successful in Massachusetts, we will renew our advocacy efforts on this new bill’s behalf. 

Additionally, though not specific to the law, GRC members in New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island noted several obscene material bills introduced in those states this session and are tracking their potential impact on libraries. 


Catherine Biondo and Emilie Benoit, LLNE GRC Co-Chairs

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.  

Update from the Access to Justice Committee

Providing access to legal information is one of the main purposes of the Access to Justice Committee. LLNE Legal Link, which has been in existence for many years, recently received a complete review with updates ongoing. This presents an opportunity to think about what additional information may be useful for public libraries or members of the public.

Legal Link currently provides general information on legal materials and the ins and outs of legal reference. Each state also has a section that lists law libraries open to the public, information about free and low cost legal help, and legislative process information. Legal Link has also provided timely information, such as the Covid eviction protections for each state.

There are many possibilities for additional information that may help members of the public access information. One idea already presented to the committee is providing information about criminal record expungement for each state.  Do you have an idea for commonly-sought legal information that we could provide through Legal Link? Contact the chair of the Access to Justice committee at

Featured LLNE Library: Roger Williams University School of Law

Location, location, location: The sheer beauty of the place stops first-time visitors to Roger Williams University (RWU) in their tracks. 

And it is striking. Comprising 143 acres of New England waterfront, the RWU main campus overlooks Mount Hope Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island.  Sparkling water and scenic coastline seem to lie in every direction. The towers of the historic Mount Hope Bridge loom in southerly views.

Like many buildings on campus, the RWU Law School features bay-facing rooms with expansive windows that take full advantage of spectacular views.  Ample recreation areas and walking paths provide students, faculty and staff with plentiful opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Our great law library staff is no exception, and on most days, you will find many of us walking, running, or swimming over our lunch hour. From the law and campus libraries to the wraparound deck of the Sailing and Education Center (photo), there are also plenty of quiet places to study and relax.

Of course, for law librarians, our favorite spot is the law library. Providing a year-round retreat from campus bustle and all weather, the library is designed to afford open, comfortable, and multi-functional spaces to meet student needs for study, work, and research. As the library adjusts its collection to an ever-increasing inventory of digital materials, planned renovations in coming years will see some shelving spaces converted to even more practical nooks for student use.

RWU Law is the only law school in Rhode Island. Bearing the responsibility of that distinction, the law library maintains a unique collection of current and historical materials related to Rhode Island’s state and federal jurisdictions.  The library also possesses a select collection of current and historical materials on other New England states, as well as key legal resources from farther afield.

Naturally befitting our coastal location, the law library collects heavily in maritime law. This collection supports the Marine Affairs Institute at RWU Law, a partnership with the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Sea Grant.  The Marine Affairs Institute is home to the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program, which prepares law students with academic training and practical experience to work in ocean and coastal law and policy.

With its bay-view perch, RWU’s location is intertwined with its academic programs, strategic priorities, and campus life.  With thoughtful interior spaces that complement outdoor natural beauty, RWU affords its community a healthy and supportive environment in which to thrive.

Meet the New Service Committee Chair Nicole Belbin

This fall, in addition to serving as the Chair of the Service Committee, Nicole starts her new position at Western New England University School of Law Library as the Associate Dean for Library and Information Resources and Professor of Law.

Nicole Belbin, Western New England University

Nicole grew up in rural Ohio, where her first library experiences were thanks to the local book mobile. She joined the United States Marine Corps after graduating high school. She has been with WNE for seventeen years, when she started in an entry-level staff position and fell in love with library work. Nicole received her MLIS from Drexel University, and most recently, her JD from WNE in 2020. She is passionate about the role libraries play in student success.

She has been a member of LLNE since 2010 and has enjoyed serving on the Service Committee for the last two years. She is looking forward to leading the Service Committee this year and continuing to bring amazing service opportunities to our members. In keeping with the theme of starting new things, Nicole has been training to run her first (and maybe last) marathon in October.

Welcome Message from the LLNE President

Hello, and welcome to another new year in LLNE!  

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the committee chairs for their work over the last year and welcome them as they do their work for this year. The new Communications Committee co-chairs are Emma Wood and Katharine Haldeman and the new Service Committee chair is Nicole Belbin. Thank you to all the new and returning committee chairs and members. 

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

I’d also like to welcome new and returning board members. Welcome to Sara McMahon, our new Vice President, and congratulations to Christie Schauder on being reelected to the secretary position and Jessica Panella on being reelected to the education co-chair position. 

While the pandemic is far from over, it has been wonderful to see many of you in person over the last few months as we use the tools we have available to us to stay safe. A huge thank you to all who organized and participated in a successful spring meeting at Yale, and I’m looking forward to the fall meeting on October 7th at the WayPoint Center in New Bedford! Keep an eye out for more information from education co-chairs Jessica Panella and Maureen Quinlan. 

Finally, I’d like to encourage you all to think about what LLNE means to you as you go through your year. What do you value most about LLNE? Is it the community? Educational opportunities? The services we provide, like service committee projects and LRIP?  I most value our membership – your creativity, your dedication, and your supportiveness with each other. I hope that as we go through this next year together, no matter what changes this year brings, we can all consider what makes LLNE special and hold space for that uniqueness. 

Take care, 


LLNE-SNELLA Members Support the Books-to-Prison Project

Thanks to all who donated at the LLNE-SNELLA Spring 2022 meeting! The LLNE Service Committee partnered with the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Books-to-Prison Project, an initiative spearheaded by Julian Aiken, Yale Law Library’s Assistant Director for Access and Faculty Services. Donations of new or like-new paperbacks (fiction or popular non-fiction) as well as recent law books help the project establish libraries in jails and prisons across Connecticut. The Project has also provided books to domestic violence shelters and will be working to expand outreach to additional local community programs.

Members had the opportunity to donate books to the Books-to-Prison Project either during the 2022 LLNE-SNELLA Spring Meeting at Yale Law School, by mail if they could not attend the meeting, or through  donating e-gift vouchers to a local Connecticut bookstore. Through the generosity of LLNE-SNELLA members, the Books-to-Prison Project has so far received a total of 34 books and $200 in gift vouchers!

It’s never too late to make a donation! If you’d like to donate books to the Project, they can be mailed to:

Julian Aiken

Yale Law Library

127 Wall Street, New Haven, 06511

Or you can purchase an electronic gift card through RJ Julia Independent Booksellers and send it to  

If you have any questions, please contact co-chairs, Jessica Almeida at and Kaitlin Connolly at

Thank you all again for supporting this cause!

The Service Committee

Interview with Spring Meeting Panelist Yasmin Sokkar Harker

We have one more panelist to feature before the Spring Meeting tomorrow. Yasmin Sokkar Harker is Student Liaison Librarian and Law Library Professor at CUNY Law. Her research interests include legal research pedagogy, critical information literacy, legal research and social justice, and information access issues. Read below for a more about Yasmin:

1.       Tell us a fun fact about yourself! I participate I am in a book club that focuses on post apocalyptic science fiction. 

2.       Do you have any pets?
Two cats.

3.       What is your favorite hobby? Reading fantasy and science fiction, trying and failing to become fluent in a second language.

4. What do you think is one of the most important aspects of critical law librarianship? How much you can broaden your own critical perspective on legal information by learning from others and having intellectual humility.

For more information about speakers, take a look at this Libguide for the Critical Law Librarianship-LLNE / SNELLA Spring 2022 Meeting!

Interview with LLNE Spring Meeting Panelist Ronald Wheeler

As we continue to get ready for the LLNE Spring Meeting, we want to share this interview with Ron Wheeler, the plenary panel moderator:

  1. Tell us a fun fact about yourself!  
Ronald E. Wheeler, Jr.
Director of Fineman & Pappas Law Libraries

I once attended a Madonna concert dressed as Madonna. 

  1. What is your favorite New England spot and why?  

Downtown Providence because it is urban and foody and cultured and full of life. 

  1. Do you have any pets?  

No, but I still hope to one day own a very large dog. 

  1. What is your favorite hobby?  

Dancing, reading, traveling 

  1. What do you enjoy most about being a law librarian?  

The people I work with. 

  1. How did you end up where you are, doing what you’re doing? How did you end up in your specialty?  

A combination of hard work, dumb luck, serendipity, and remembering to always be my true and authentic self. 

  1. What do you think is one of the most important aspects of critical law librarianship?  

The need for us to always question what is presented to us as truth.