Welcome Back!

by Jamie Baker, RIPS Blog Editor

The fall semester is fast approaching. It’s time for the RIPS Law Librarian Blog to welcome back returning bloggers and introduce our new bloggers for 2017-2018. We are fortunate to have four returning bloggers:

  • Erik Adams, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton
  • Paul Gatz, The Ohio State University
  • Christine George, Cardozo Law
  • Duane Strojny, WMU-Cooley Law School

We also have several new contributors to welcome:

  • Bret Christensen, Riverside County Law Library

Bret Christensen is a 14-year veteran of assisting the public as a Librarian and presently serves as the Research & Instructional Services Librarian at the Riverside County Law Library in beautiful downtown Riverside, California. Bret speaks, writes articles, and creates media of all kinds on the topic of how to conduct research for attorneys, paralegals, and pro se litigants. His blog at legalresearchiseasy.blogspot.com is but one example of his dedication to spreading the religion that legal research really is easy (or can be with practice) and, with a little effort, anyone can learn the finer techniques of the trade. Bret has won the Excellence in Marketing Award for Best Newsletter and Best Campaign from the American Association of Law Libraries and presently teaches a 9-hour MCLE refresher course for legal professionals on what they should have learned in law school about how to conduct legal research but probably forgot.

  • Emily Donnellan, Concordia University School of Law

Emily Donnellan is the public services librarian and an assistant professor at Concordia University School of Law in Boise, Idaho. The library has three librarians which means Emily does a little bit of everything including: teaching advanced legal research, fielding research requests, and making sure the circulation desk runs smoothly. Emily joined the university in 2016 after graduating from the University of Washington’s law librarianship program. While at UW she served as a reference intern at the Gallagher Law Library and as a graduate assistant. Emily received her BA in Criminology from Portland State University and her JD from the University of South Dakota.

  • Nicole Downing, University of North Carolina School of Law

Nicole Downing currently works as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and Reference Librarian at the Kathrine R. Everett Law Library at the University of North Carolina, where she focuses on student services and teaching Advanced Legal Research. She previously worked as the Reference and Instructional Services Librarian at the University of Miami Law Library. She earned her B.S. in Marketing Communication and Writing, Literature & Publishing from Emerson College. She completed her J.D. at the University North Carolina School of Law and her M.S.L.S. at the University of North Carolina School of Information and Library Science.

  • Sarah Gotschall, The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

Sarah has been a reference librarian and professor of practice at the Daniel F. Cracchiolo Law Library since 2005. She teaches Introductory Legal Research and Administrative Law Research and provides research assistance to students, professors, and the public. After graduating from law school in 1995 she practiced law for two years before working in the customer support department of LexisNexis. Sarah received her B.A. from Rhodes College, her J.D. from Emory University School of Law, and her M.L.I.S. from Kent State University School of Information.

  • Lora Johns, Yale Law School

Lora Johns is the Faculty Services Librarian at Yale Law School’s Lillian Goldman Law Library. Prior to joining the library, she worked as a law clerk to the Honorable Ralph K. Winter on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and as a litigator in New Haven, CT, where she wrote a Wall Street Journal-cited amicus brief in a veterans’ benefits appeal in the Federal Circuit. Lora is currently completing her M.L.I.S. at Simmons College. She earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. in linguistics from Dartmouth College. As a librarian, she is interested in a wide range of topics, including technology in the library and foreign legal research.

  • Brandon Wright, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Brandon is a Reference Librarian (and unofficial Rare Book Librarian and Inter Library Loan Librarian) at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Library. She joined Loyola Law after nearly two years of service to the judiciary at the Louisiana Supreme Court in the Law Library of Louisiana. A graduate of the Loyola New Orleans College of Law, Brandon completed her J.D. in Common Law with a certificate in Civil Law. In addition, Brandon has a Master’s degree in Information Science from the Florida State University. She focuses on Louisiana legal history and issues concerning access to information. Her research interests include: mixed jurisdictions, rare law books, Spanish and Louisiana legal history, canon law, the intersection of law, religion, and society, and the relationship of graphic novels and the law. Brandon is the President of the New Orleans Association of Law Libraries and is an active member of the American Association of Law Libraries as a contributor to the RIPS Blog and an Outreach Committee member for the Legal History and Rare Book Special Interest Section.

Please join me in welcoming a great group of librarians who will provide us with their valuable insights throughout 2017-2018!

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Lessons from a First-Time Teacher: Everything I Did Wrong and How You Can Avoid Doing It Too

by Amelia Landenberger, Guest Blogger, UK College of Law

My first year of teaching could have been worse. I had great students, hours of support and patience from my coworkers, and a good deal of luck (no wardrobe malfunctions or inopportune trips and falls). Still, it was a difficult journey, and I’m going to share a few things I learned along the way:

We teach this because we like it; let that enthusiasm show! I couldn’t be a used car salesman, mostly because I have no poker face, and the only thing I know about cars is the color of the paint. But I know legal research the way a car salesman knows cars. More importantly, I love legal research the way ice cream scoopers love ice cream; sometimes you have too much and it gives you a stomachache, but most of the time you can’t resist the urge to give the customer just one more sample until they find a flavor they’ll love.

As a teacher, you must be willing to say “I don’t know,” when appropriate. I knew this when I began teaching, and I found it easy to say “I don’t know” whenever someone asked me about constitutional law. Where I really failed was when a student asked if I knew his name. “Yes, of course,” I lied unconvincingly and then scurried off to refer to my seating chart to look up his name. Afterward, I apologized to the student and admitted I had not known his name and had tried to cover with a white lie. If you find yourself in this situation, remember that it’s far less rude to admit you’ve forgotten than to have the awkwardness of such a visible lie. The student was pleasant about the situation, but I was disappointed in myself for eroding his trust in me, even a little.

You should get ready to laugh off some mistakes during your first year. A few weeks after my first name-forgetting debacle, a student wearing a baseball cap walked up to the reference desk for help with an assignment. The four reference librarians had assigned slightly different versions of the same assignment, so as part of my reference interview I cheerily asked him “and whose research class are you in?” This was followed by one of the most awkward silences of the year before he finally said, “Um, your class.” I apologized, laughed at myself, and didn’t forget his name or face again for the rest of the year (even when he grew a beard over winter break).

In your first year, don’t be afraid to ask for a lot of help. Remember that in your first year, no question is too embarrassing. Don’t stop after asking just one person. Asking two or three experienced teachers gives you a range of options to choose from so that you can find the methods that will work for you. You will probably not do anything exactly the same way your colleagues do it.

You need to embrace the fear and adrenaline you get from the performance of teaching. At least for the first year, that fear doesn’t go away. Try to be natural despite the adrenaline, and you might want to be careful about your caffeine consumption. Students seem to love teachers who are quirky, and trying to hide your personality takes twice as much effort as just letting students see a little bit of what makes you special. However, if your natural state is over-caffeination, you might also want to focus on speaking a little slower in the classroom to allow for note-taking. I once tried to compensate for a rotten head cold and lack of sleep by chugging a venti Frappuccino and my students were amused but mostly overwhelmed by the speed of my lecture that day.

Your students might not be able to tell the difference between your best day of teaching and your worst day of teaching. To them, it’s just class. This is a comforting thought on those days when you feel your teaching was lackluster, but it’s also a reminder that you need to create your own validation. Your student evaluations may be good, but you’re not going to get a standing ovation for your best teaching moments. Celebrate in your own way by bragging to your friends and colleagues.

The first year may be difficult, but you will survive. I hear the second year of teaching is much easier!

Posted in Legal Research Instruction, Teaching (general) | Leave a comment

Law Librarians Conference Hard

by Christine Anne George, RIPS-SIS Annual Meeting Grant Recipient
RIPS Penguin

Getting some quality time with Puron before someone else won him at the RIPS Meet Up

There are many ways to tell that you attended a good conference. You can look back at your notes and reflect on the things you’ve learned. You can count the number of ribbons, pins, and stickers on your badge. You can scroll through Twitter and relive various moments. All of that would apply to me as far as AALL17 goes, but I have a brand new metric: sleeping through the screaming child seated behind you. Or at least sleeping through the screaming until said child grabs the back of your seat and starts shaking it. Once we landed, the gentleman sitting next to me asked, “How’d you manage to sleep through that?” I shrugged and said that I had been at a conference. A law librarian conference, I elaborated when he asked. “Wow. Law librarians conference hard,” was his response. To which I can only say, “yup.”


Here are some of the highlights:

The Keynote

Everything everyone has been saying about this keynote is true. You must watch it. Although you might want to grab a box of tissues to keep nearby just in case.

Understanding the Human Element in Search Algorithms

We know that different databases can give different results. Until Susan Nevelow-Mart started in with the charts and graphs of her sample searches, I had no idea how different. This was a really informative session (full disclosure, RIPS endorsed it) and I’ve added Susan’s paper to my TBR pile.

The Roundtables

From talking about metrics concerns in the Law Repositories Roundtable to the laws governing Tequila in Texas at the LHRB Host City Roundtable to talking model-author agreements at the ALL-SIS Faculty Services & Scholarly Communication Joint Roundtable, I took in a lot of information and had some really interesting conversations. I’ve always found the Roundtables to be extremely worthwhile and my only disappointment in Austin was that so many of them were up against each other that I had to make some tough calls on which to attend.

Finding Truth in the Age of Fake News and Alternative Facts

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this session but found I really enjoyed hearing the reporters’ perspective. When it comes to verifying information and sources, the struggle is real. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution. It reminded me a lot of the work I did recently in dispelling a rumor about Justice Cardozo. I also enjoyed the librarian love from the panel.

Social Justice in Law Libraries: #LawLibrariesRespond

This was a unique program that I hope to see more of at future AALL conferences. In the wake of social justice crises, how can law libraries respond? There were three specific examples and the speakers outlined what their libraries did and what, if anything, they might have done differently. Partnerships and planning also were a big part of the discussion. To get a better recap, check out the hashtag above.

The Human Equation: What Star Trek Teaches Us About Leadership

The only regret I have about attending this session was that I didn’t do some prep work to know all the Star Trekkie things. (Or Trekkers—apologies I’m not a scifi person, but I do recall funny SNL sketches.) This was probably one of the most interesting and worthwhile sessions I attended and made it worth it to stick it out to the bitter end of the conference. The tips on how to be a leader based on certain character traits were clear, concise, and extremely applicable. The presenters clearly had fun putting this together and it showed.


I realize that there is a lot that I’ve probably left out of my recap. With so much going on in such a short span of time, it always takes a while to unpack and reflect upon all the information. I’m extremely grateful to RIPS for the travel grant to attend the conference. As my random seatmate will attest, I tried to get the most out of it.

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Change Is The Only Constant

By Kristen Moore, RIPS-SIS Grant Recipient for AALL Management Institute

Thanks to a generous grant by the RIPS-SIS I was able to attend the AALL Management Institute in Chicago in April. This was an intensive few days with a lot of information shared and knowledge imparted, not only from the presenter but also my fellow attendees. One of the many lessons I took away from those few days was how to manage change within an organization.

The only thing that stays the same is everything changes. And, libraries are going through major changes now. Not everyone wants to change. However, we must adapt in order to evolve and survive. Employee resistance to change can be very exhausting and frustrating. But, there are things that we can do to make these changes easier for everyone, including ourselves.

First, communicate, communicate, communicate. Make sure everyone is aware of what is being done and why. The fear of the unknown is real. Make sure your staff knows what is happening. And, the why is probably the most important part. For people to go along with something, they need to know why it is necessary. You’ll also want to allow time for the idea of change to sink in. Initial resistance is natural. Don’t fight it. You’ll just exhaust yourself.

After you have communicated, listen. After giving staff time to think, allow them to vent. Let them know this is a dialogue, not a debate. Change is scary. And, fear is often the foundation of why people fight it. They may worry about problems that will arise. They may worry about losing part of their job. They may worry about no longer being seen as valued. Or conversely, they may worry that they won’t be able to handle the extra work. Let them tell you what they think and then try to clarify what is being done and ease those fears.

Next, engage your staff. Make sure they are an active part of the change. If they feel like they have input in the process, they will feel a little more in control of their future and be less fearful. They will feel of value.  And, they will feel like they are making changes, rather than being changed.

Finally, commit to helping staff with the changes. If new skills need to be learned, provide professional development opportunities. Change isn’t easy.  Allow for bumps and kinks to be worked out. Continue to communicate and solicit feedback.  Let them know you understand and are there to help. Make sure you are as committed to the change as you expect them to be and let your actions reflect that.

Change can be tiring, scary, and frustrating. But, it can also be exciting. Stay open with your staff and let them be open with you.  Involve them and be involved.  And, hopefully, things will go much smoother.

Posted in Annual meeting resources, Issues in Law Librarianship, Training | Leave a comment

Dealing with Self-Plagiarism (a.k.a. Text Recycling) in Law Reviews

by Yasmin Sokkar Harker, Student Liaison Librarian, CUNY School of Law &
Benjamin J. Keele, Research and Instructional Services Librarian, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law


On occasion, we have been contacted by law review journal editors who think an author may have committed “self-plagiarism” by reusing language or ideas from the author’s previously published works. This post is a first step in developing guidance for librarians to give law review editors with questions about self-plagiarism.

Self-plagiarism describes several different behaviors by authors.[1] First, authors take one study and then make many different publications from it. Second, authors submit the same work to different publications without disclosure. Third, authors, reuse substantial portions of text or ideas from past work, with or without (usually without) disclosure or attribution.

Here we wish to discuss only the third behavior. We also wish to use a different term, text recycling. “Self-plagiarism” is too pejorative and connotes stealing from oneself.[2] The real problem with reusing one’s previously published work is not taking one’s own words or ideas, but that the reuse breaks some trust with the publishing law review and readers. We prefer calling this reuse “text recycling” because it is more precise and less morally loaded.

Originality in Legal Practice and Academia

To help law review editors think through their approaches to text recycling, we should consider what the expectations are about originality in legal academia and in legal practice. In legal practice, it is reasonable to recycle text, including your own. Attorneys use boilerplate language in contracts, wills, and other standard legal documents. Lawyers and judges recycle text from previous work to include in their briefs and opinions. This behavior is often encouraged for the sake of efficiency. For attorneys, the value of their legal writing lies in its function as a legal instrument, or in its persuasiveness, not in its originality.[3] For the judiciary, grounded in stare decisis, the value of their writing is to explain the decisions of the court in the context of precedent.[4] Again, originality is not the point.

Legal scholarship differs from practical legal writing in that its originality is crucial to its value. Its purpose is to document the evolution of the law, comment on and criticize the status quo, offer new insights, and advocate for change.[5] Unlike other academic fields, student editors are the primary gatekeepers and distributors of legal scholarship. Publishers of science journals have debated text recycling and developed some guidance,[6] but we have not found analogous guidance for law reviews. Let us look at the interests of law review editors, authors, and readers to gain further insight into whether (or if) text recycling is appropriate in legal scholarship.

Interests of Editors

Law review editors aim to publish original work that provides new insights into the law and how it is applied. If the author has written on the topic previously, the editors would presumably want the newer work to demonstrate additions, progress, or new understandings from earlier scholarship. Thus, for editors, the major concern with text recycling is deceit or misrepresentation surrounding the originality of the text. It would be unfair for a law review to publish a piece, and later find that the piece had largely been published elsewhere. If the text is properly cited, editors are able to assess whether the writing has originality that is distinct from earlier work. Policies on text recycling should take into account the law review editors’ need to assess the work and prevent authors from misrepresenting the originality of the work.

Interests of Authors

Authors often work on a body of scholarship, building on earlier work to generate new insights. Thus, authors have an interest in being free to use their earlier work, and not being compelled to recreate the wheel.[7] Policies on text recycling should acknowledge an author’s right to build a body of scholarship and should not require rewriting or paraphrasing oneself solely to avoid recycling text when appropriate disclosure is feasible.

Interests of Readers

Like editors, readers have an interest in trusting that what they are reading is original work. This is particularly true for those reviewing the scholarship for tenure or promotion purposes. Thus, for readers, there is a concern about misrepresentation about the originality of the work. Policies on text recycling should take into account the readers’ interest in the originality of the work.

Taking into account the interests of these stakeholders, we offer this language as a starting point for developing a law review policy on text recycling. We favor permitting reuse of text and arguments from previously published works with proper disclosure to law review editors and citation for readers. A text recycling policy could be incorporated into submission guidelines, publication agreements (most agreements contain a general warrant by the author that the article is original and does not infringement anyone’s copyright), or presented as a standalone document.

Text Recycling Policy

Authors should disclose substantive reuse of text from previously published works upon submission. If published, reused text should be properly cited in a mutually agreeable manner. Options for citation include in-text references, footnotes, or disclosures at the beginning or end of the article.

Reuse of ideas and arguments from previously published works should be acknowledged through in-text references or footnotes if they are a crucial part of the article’s thesis; otherwise, they need not be specially disclosed.

The Journal will regard [indicate percentage of text or other standard] of reused text as not sufficiently original for purposes of selecting articles for publication.

Failure to disclose reuse of substantial portions of text or reuse of arguments that are crucial parts of the article’s thesis is adequate reason for the Journal to decline to publish an article or to rescind an offer to publish.


Some authors understandably prefer not to rearticulate every background section and argument in different papers on the same topic, and editors understandably want to ensure their journals are publishing original scholarship. We think this suggest policy language accommodates theses interests and offers editors (and librarians that advise them) a good starting point for discussion.

What do you think? We welcome comments on this policy language and the issue of text recycling at yasmin.harker@law.cuny.edu and bkeele@indiana.edu.

[1] Patrick M. Scanlon, Song From Myself: An Anatomy of Self-Plagiarism, 2 Plagiary: Cross-Disciplinary Studies in Plagiarism, Fabrication, & Falsification 57, 59-60 (2007), http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.5240451.0002.007

[2] Liviu Andreescu, Self-Plagiarism in Academic Publishing: The Anatomy of a Misnomer, 19 Sci. & Engineering Ethics 775, 779 (2013). http://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-012-9416-1

[3] Carol M. Bast & Linda B. Samuels, Plagiarism and Legal Scholarship in the Age of Information Sharing: The Need for Intellectual Honesty, 57 Cath. U. L. Rev. 777, 803 (2008), http://scholarship.law.edu/lawreview/vol57/iss3/4

[4] Id.

[5] Michael L. Closen & Robert M. Jarvis, The National Conference of Law Reviews Model Code of Ethics: Final Text and Comments, 75 Marq. L. Rev. 509, 512 (1992), http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/mulr/vol75/iss3/2/

[6] Comm. on Publ’n Ethics, Text Recycling Guidelines, https://publicationethics.org/text-recycling-guidelines, https://perma.cc/2TCK-ASM8

[7] Josh Blackman, Self-Plagiarism 13 (Feb. 18, 2017), http://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2919642

Posted in Issues in Law Librarianship, Law Reviews, Legal Writing | Leave a comment

Message from New RIPS Chair

Hello RIPS members,

It is with great excitement that I begin my year as Chair of RIPS-SIS. After four days of meeting and talking to RIPS members in Austin, I’m energized and ready to help put your ideas into action, with the help of our Executive Board, Strategic Planning Committee, our team of committee chairs, and our community of active members.

While the committees themselves have many interesting and innovative initiatives they are getting ready to take on, I am particularly excited about the work the Board and Strategic Planning Committee are going to be doing on updating our Strategic Plan. This five-year plan will be a reflection of what our ideal Special Interest Section would be, taking ideas from members across the country and setting out an action plan to make them happen.

My hope is that you will all contribute by sending in your ideas of what your ideal vision of RIPS would be, of what we should be aiming to be. We’d also like to hear your ideas for what types of projects and initiatives you’d like to see RIPS tackle. No ideas are too small or too big, so please share them with us either by contacting a member of the Strategic Planning Committee (listed below) or Executive Board or by sending them via Twitter at @RIPS_SIS.

It was wonderful to meet so many of you in Austin. My thanks to you for the inspiration and energy you bring to our SIS. Let’s keep the conversation going!

Alyson Drake
RIPS Chair, 2017-2018

Strategic Planning Committee Members:
Ashley Ahlbrand
Karin Johnsrud
Heather Joy
Rebecca Mattson
Shannon Roddy
Alexis Sharp
Genevieve Tung
Katie Crandall, ex officio
Paul Gatz, ex officio
Katie Hanschke, ex officio
Susan Nevelow Mart, ex officio

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RIPS Events at AALL


AALL is basically here and I wanted to remind you of the great RIPS-SIS Programs, especially our new Meet & Greet event which will feature yummy treats and great conversation on topics on which YOU voted, that we have in store for Austin:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

  • Dine-Around Dinners with TS/OBS/RIPS/CS Special Interest Sections, TBA (hosted by incoming Chair Alyson Drake; incoming Member-at-Large Paul Gatz, and incoming Secretary/Treasurer Katie Hanschke)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

  • RIPS-SIS sponsored program: Understanding the Human Element in Search Algorithms: 11:30-12:30pm
  • RIPS-SIS Patron Services Roundtable: 12:45–1:45pm Hilton-Room 415A
  • RIPS-SIS Legal Research Competencies Roundtable: 5:15-6:15pm Hilton-Room 415A

Monday, July 18, 2016

  • Meet & Greet: 4:00-5:00pm ACC-Room 14
  • RIPS-SIS Research Instruction Roundtable: 5:00-6:00pm Hilton-Room 415A

Don’t forget to stop by our Marketplace table (if you are attending CONELL) and our great interactive poster in the exhibit hall!

I wanted to thank everyone for attending and contributing to our first virtual meeting this past June. We have reviewed the feedback survey and will take your comments into consideration for next year! Overall, it seemed to be a great success.

I also wanted to thank all of our outgoing Chairs and Board members—I cannot begin to thank these amazing people for their hard work and dedication to RIPS-SIS. Make sure to say “hello” when you see them in Austin (and attend our programs). We will be posting a separate “thank you” post to these amazing individuals after AALL has officially concluded.

It has been wonderful serving as your Chair this past year and I have truly enjoyed supporting such a great organization. I can’t wait to see everyone in Austin!

Safe Travels,

Katie Crandall

RIPS Chair

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