Tag Archives: law library

AALL or AfLI: What’s in a Name?

While I have left law library employment, I was a lawyer librarian and a member of AALL for over 15 years. I’ve been slow to the debate over changing the organization’s name. I still have mixed feelings. But also have perspective as someone who has departed to, at least, the far fringes of the profession.

The American Association of Law Libraries is considering changing its name to the Association for Legal Information. The change has been recommended by the Executive Board and will be voted on by the membership. In 2009, the Special Libraries Association rejected a similar change in name (to the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals). My prediction is that the AALL membership will also reject the change. My own feelings are mixed.

I no longer work in a law library. I left a senior role in an academic library for complicated reasons. This was most immediately related to local issues and local dysfunction in a particular organization. But I also had become rather disillusioned with the state of librarianship, or at least of law academic librarianship into which I had personal visibility. Legal professions and academic institutions have, to date, both been very slow to change. But rather than the progressive forces within our parent institutions that, I think, most librarians imagine themselves to be, I had increasingly come to see the library as part of the problem — needlessly conservative about extremely costly collection practices, determined to wait for various outside white knights to fix scholarly and legal communications crises in the response to which we would rightly sit squarely in the center, and with almost nothing but defensiveness to offer in response to the current dilemma of legal education in finding a way to better provide responsible, cost-effective, and sustainable service to our student customers.

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