Emerging Leader Award Nominations

AALL is now accepting nominations for the Emerging Leader Award. This award recognizes newer members who have made significant contributions to the profession and have demonstrated the potential for leadership and continuing excellence.

This award is an excellent way for supervisors to recognize the hard work of those around them and boost workplace moral. Self-nominations are also accepted and encouraged.

The nomination deadline is February 1. Letters of recommendation can take some time to gather and holidays are approaching, so we encourage you to begin the process as soon as possible in order to meet the deadline.

Selection criteria include:

  • The nominee must be a member in good standing of AALL
  • The nominee must be in his/her first 10 years of law library experience
  • The nominee must not have previously received an Emerging Leader Award
  • The nominee must have made a significant contribution to the Association and/or the profession.
  • The nominee must have shown outstanding promise for continuing service and leadership. Specific examples of his/her continuing activities must be provided.

More details on the award, including a link to the Nomination Form, can be found here: Emerging Leader Award (https://www.aallnet.org/community/recognition/awards-program/emerging-leader-award/).

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Ingroup Implicit Biases. Yes, they are a thing.

During the week of October 22 – October 26, 2018, LISP-SIS, RIP-SIS, BCAALL, and the AALL Diversity & Inclusion Committee held an online conversation addressing diversity and inclusion within law libraries. During the 5-day discussion, selected facilitators posed questions on diversity to online participants regarding the overarching topics of staff training, library resources, addressing discrimination issues, and hiring and retention policies. Participation was fruitful, and the discussion was open and informative. It was the highlight of my week to watch law librarians from all different backgrounds share their experiences, policies, and ideas in a concerted effort to increase awareness of diversity issues within our law libraries.

On Day 4 of the 5-day discussion, the topic of implicit bias arose. During this discussion, a few members referenced a subcategory of the topic that is very rarely discussed whenever these conversations occur: ingroup implicit biases. Also referred to as ingroup favoritism, social psychologists have recognized and labeled our tendency to favor or be more positive towards members of our own ingroups.

Although ingroup implicit biases are more commonly pro-ingroup, there are times when members of an ingroup can be more critical to members of their ingroup as opposed to similarly situated members of their outgroup. This is referred to by social psychologists as ingroup derogation, more commonly known as the black sheep effect.

countryside agriculture farm crowd

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

There are different theories to explain this behavior. Some social psychologists theorize that ingroup derogation against certain members is a form of group protection that eliminates individuals who may negatively impact the group. Others consider it an individual protection—disassociating members that seem unfavorable to protect against miscast associations against the whole, and thereby, against the individual. Regardless of its internal origins, ingroup derogation does exist.

The ingroups we identify with are not monolithic. Using myself as an example, I identify as a Black American. However, in my ingroup, I distinguish myself as Caribbean American. Other Black Americans in this ingroup include African Americans—descendants of African ancestors who were brought to the Americas as slaves—and African Americans—African immigrants to the United States, and their immediate first- or second- generation relatives. Our Black American experiences are not one and the same, and our distinguishing cultural attributes have raised discussions of explicit and implicit biases between our sub-ingroups.

photo of four persons uniting hands

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This phenomenon is not found only in Black American ingroups. It expands to Asian ingroups, Latinx ingroups, and even outside racial ingroups to religious, gender, and sexuality ingroups. Differences are prevalent in every ingroup. Although we are more closely related to those in our ingroup than to those we consider our outgroup, we must still acknowledge these differences to recognize our unconscious responses to what we may perceive as either positive or negative characteristics within our own inner circles.

By definition, implicit biases alone are difficult to recognize. They are unconscious attitudes—known unknowns affecting our behavior in ways that we are unaware of, and that we now find ourselves responsible for addressing internally. Implicit biases against our own ingroup add a secondary level of difficulty to recognize when encountered. It is extraordinarily difficult to acknowledge an internal bias you would never believe yourself capable of.

I appreciate that we as a people are recognizing that our experiences are not the end-all-be-all-of our ingroups. Unpacking the diverse groups within our ingroups is just another level of welcoming inclusivity into our lives and workplaces. The deeper we acknowledge these distinctions, the more conscious we become of our attitudes and actions in all of our social interactions, and the more capable we are of combating implicit biases.

Thank you to the interest groups and committees who took the time to carve out this digital safe space for law librarians to discuss these important issues within the workplace. Thank you to the courageous participants who shared your stories, your questions, and your fears in order to broaden our perceptions and make our law libraries safer, more welcoming, and inclusive space for our students, faculty, and patrons.


[1] Nilanjana Dasgupta, Implicit Ingroup Favoritism, Outgroup Favoritism, and Their Behavioral Manifestations, 17 Social Justice Research 143-169 (2004).

[2] Scott Eidelman & Monica Biernat, Derogating black sheep: Individual or group protection?, 39 Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 602-609 (2003).

[3] Eidelman, et al. (2003); see also, Bentley L. Gibson et al., Sources of implicit and explicit intergroup race bias among African-American children and young adults, 12 PLOS ONE (2017).

Posted in Career, Continuing Education, Issues in Law Librarianship, Issues in Librarianship (generally), RIPS blog, RIPS Committees, RIPS events, Training, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Calling All Writers: RIPS-SIS Scholarship Committee Writing Groups Open for Participants!

typewriter-1248088_1920Are you in need of a writing support group?  The RIPS-SIS Scholarship Committee is putting together writing groups where RIPS members can come together to brainstorm ideas, find others interested in similar topics, and generally assist each other through the writing process.  If you’re interested in participating in a writing group, please fill out our short survey with your information and interests so we can find your best fit. Some examples of how you might use the writing support group could be:

  • Finding someone you can exchange emails with to bounce ideas off of
  • Connecting with a confidante you can call to confess when you’ve got writer’s block and just need to vent
  • Creating a Slack group where you can share ideas and keep each other accountable, but also share the occasional cat pic
  • Planning a monthly Zoom meeting round robin to share your projects, your highs, your lows, your learning experiences, and ask for and offer advice on burning questions
  • And more!

If you have any questions, please contact Ashley Sundin at sundin@gonzaga.edu.

You can take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NB9BPJH

Posted in AALL Annoucements, Career, Legal Writing, RIPS Committees, RIPS events, Uncategorized, Writing (generally) | Leave a comment

Websites that will make your job easier

I’m not sure if I do this because I’m a librarian, or if I became a librarian because I do this, but I’ve always bookmarked handy websites. For as long as I can remember, my bookmarks bar has been filled to the brim with everything from photo-editing software to web comics that made me laugh. Today I wanted to share some of the websites I’ve bookmarked over the years that have made my job, and my life, easier. Special thanks to Reddit, where I first discovered many of these websites.

I’ve organized them into categories (this is definitely because I’m a librarian) including library-specific, government, coding, web design, general internet, and just fun/handy sites.

blur book stack books bookshelves

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Library Specific 

https://archive.org/ – More commonly known as the Wayback Machine. The Internet archive is also a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites and more.

https://openlibrary.org/- Open library is an open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published.

https://www.gutenberg.org/ – Project Gutenberg offers over 57,000 free ebooks that are available in the public domain in both epub and kindle format.

https://www.archives.gov/ – The National Archives official site. It has lots of really great information and resources. I especially like digital photo collections.

https://www.etymonline.com/ – This website lets you learn the history of virtually any word.

https://www.thingiverse.com/ – Looking for items to 3D print? Find them here!


architecture art berlin building

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

https://libguides.fdlp.gov/?b=g&d=a FDLP LibGuides. I used to think you could only access FDLP items if your library was a part of the program. This isn’t true, and they have a lot of really handy research guides with relevant documents linked.

https://www.census.gov/ – The Census Bureau has SO much information. I really like the off census year surveys and the library section.

https://ephtracking.cdc.gov/showHome.action – Center for Disease Control Tracking network. The Tracking Network has data and information on environments and hazardshealth effects, and population health. I think the data explorer is especially cool.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html- CIA World Factbook provides information about the history, people, government, economy, energy, geography, communications, and transnational issues for 257 world entities.

https://www.bls.gov/cpi/ – The Consumer Price Index measures the average change in prices over time.

coding computer data depth of field

Photo by Kevin Ku on Pexels.com


https://coronalabs.com/ – Corona is a cross-platform framework ideal for creating apps and games for mobile devices and desktop systems. That means you can create your project once and publish it to multiple types of devices, including Apple iPhone and iPad, Android phones and tablets, Amazon Fire, Mac Desktop, Windows Desktop, and even connected TVs such as Apple TV, Fire TV, and Android TV.

https://www.codecademy.com/ – Learn to code for free.

https://www.freecodecamp.org/ – Another place to learn to code for free

https://www.10bestdesign.com/dirtymarkup/ – Dirty Markup helps fix all of those codes you just learned how to do.

Web Design 

box business celebrate celebration

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

https://codemyui.com/ – Want your website to look trendy? This website specializes in web design and UI inspiration with code snippets.

https://www.fontsquirrel.com/- Free fonts. Now stop using arial for everything!

https://creativemarket.com/ – Creative Market has ready to use assets from independent creators including typefaces, backgrounds, and templates. This site is great for making flashy, on-trend, library flyers.

https://www.canva.com/ – I find Canva especially useful for finding website icons. You can also create your own icon, edit photos, and find free photos to use.

https://unsplash.com/ – Unsplash has BEAUTIFUL, free photos, gifted by a community of photographers.

woman in white t shirt holding smartphone in front of laptop

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

General Internet

https://downforeveryoneorjustme.com/ – This website lets you know if a particular website is down for just you or if it’d down for everyone on the internet. This was really handy during the Prime Day Amazon meltdown.

https://haveibeenpwned.com/ – Find out if your e-mail address has been compromised by a data breach. Now you know when to change your password!

https://reviewmeta.com/ – Review Meta allows you to find out if a amazon review is genuine or if it was just left by the seller to con you in to buying their product.

https://gethuman.com/ – Gives you the phone number to an actual human rather than going through countless automated options when calling customer service.

https://qz.com/ – Quartz is a news service with a global-centric approach so you see stories you’re unlikely to see elsewhere. The website itself has a cool, fresh, design.

https://mypermissions.com/- My Permissions is a website that collects permissions settings and lets you manage them from a central location. For example why would your health insurance company need to access your fitness tracker data? They shouldn’t, so make sure they don’t!

https://backgroundchecks.org/justdeleteme/ – Trying to leave a website completely? This is a directory of direct links to delete your many accounts.

woman taking selfie beside concrete stairs

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Fun/Handy Websites 

https://cloudconvert.com/ – Convert virtually any file type to a different type. Not sure how to make that pdf a word document? Do that here, for free.

https://ballotpedia.org/Main_Page – Find out what is on your local ballot with the sample ballot lookup tool.

https://westegg.com/inflation/ – An Inflation calculator. Now you know exactly how much your Grandparents paid for a house in the 50’s and how that compares to what you’re paying now.

https://www.charitynavigator.org/ – Gives objective ratings to find charities you can trust and feel confident supporting.

https://www.grammarly.com/ – A web plugin that makes sure everything you type, whether it be in a document or blog comment is clear, effective, and mistake-free.

https://www.rescuetime.com/ – A browser plugin that tracks how much time you’re spending on certain sites. There is both a free and paid version. The idea is that if you know how much time you’re spending somewhere, and if you’re not being productive, this can increase your productivity.

Please share in the comments what some of YOUR favorite bookmarked websites are. I’m always looking to add to my ever growing bookmarks bar.

Posted in Continuing Education, Marketing, Productivity, Technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Jim Crow’s Last Stand in Louisiana and Reviewing Library Diversity and Inclusion Implementation

As our country seemingly becomes more and more politically divided, and in some cases ethically divided, I feel excitement and fear about the vote tomorrow. I feel excitement because tomorrow will likely (and hopefully) be a historic day for the state of Louisiana. Tomorrow the residents of Louisiana get to vote on a ballot measure that could end the state’s split-jury system.

The split jury is a vestige of the 1898 Louisiana Constitution. It was implemented to more easily create and control free labor through “convict leasing,” recapturing the free black population using the justice system. In fact, looking back at records from the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1898, several measures including the split-jury measure sought explicitly to “establish the supremacy of the white race.” The split-jury system only remains in two states: Louisiana and Oregon. However, even in Oregon, all 12 jurors must agree on the verdict when considering murder charges. In Louisiana, that is not the case; only 10 out 12 jurors are needed for someone to be sentenced to life in prison. This system, which has been dubbed “Jim Crow’s Last Stand,” was put into place after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.

The opposition to today’s ballot measure to end the split jury believes that it will be more difficult to obtain a just result and that unanimous juries will ultimately hold up the justice system. It believes that mistrials and hung juries will delay justice for victims and their families.

Why Is This Important to Librarians?

AALL has had its own history and growth with diversity and inclusion throughout its inception (you can read more about in a short article by Frank G. Houdek). Further, AALL Special Interest Sections and Caucuses over the years have been developed specifically for diversity and inclusion. Libraries themselves must be dedicated to principles of social justice, diversity and equity in all facets—staff, collection, even services and programing. More importantly, for librarians specifically, as purveyors and guardians of information, our duty is to commit ourselves to diversity and inclusion, because we cannot (in my opinion) fully provide access to information without practicing diversity and inclusion.

What does this look like? There are no simple, one-size-fits-all answers. A good starting point is AALL Diversity and Inclusion in Law Libraries: Resources. If you are ambitious, you might even take the time to write a “Diversity & Inclusion” or mission statement for your library, so you have an outline of what is important to your institution and the next steps you may need to take to be more inclusive.

Focusing on our libraries is of course a more local approach, but if you do want to get more global, where to start is simple—Go vote today.

And the next time you hear from me, I will hopefully be writing to you from a unanimous jury state.

Posted in Access to Justice, Issues in Law Librarianship, Issues in Librarianship (generally), Legal Ethics, Legislative history, Patron Services, Reference Services, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Menopause in the Library: Ladies of a Certain Age Unite!?!

We have probably all noticed that law librarianship is a female-dominated profession. As of 2016, 75% of American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) members were women. Librarianship is such a feminized profession that recently AALL tried to rename itself to Association for Legal Information—perhaps to distance itself from use female librarians. After all, female dominated professions do, very unfortunately, command less pay and respect in our society.

I couldn’t find any numbers about the average age of law librarians, but looking around the AALL conference each year, there appear to be a lot more ladies of a certain age in attendance than spring chickens! So what does this mean for law librarians? It means that a whole lot of menopause is going on. Not just in law libraries, of course! Women get older in other jobs too (really, all jobs)! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women over 45 currently make up 20% of the American workforce, and this percentage is expected to increase in the future.

Inspiration for this blog topic came to me last month when I arrived at work to realize that I had totally forgotten to write my ALL-SIS blog post for the month. After a morning of waking up exhausted and grumpy, in a weird sweat, only to soon huddle with a blanket next to a space heater, and then forgetting both my phone and my lunch at home, when the straw broke the camel’s back with the spaced-on-the-blog situation, I desperately tried to think of a topic…and menopause in the library instantly came to mind!Picture 2

So what is menopause? According to WebMD, menopause is the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle and fertility, which happens when the ovaries no longer produce estrogen and progesterone. One achieves menopause by not having a period for a whole year. It turns out that menopause marks the end to the real problem, perimenopause! Perimenopause begins, on average, 4 years before menopause. The work-related symptoms, which pick up in the year or two before menopause, are hot flashes, mood swings, depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, memory and concentration problems, and urinary urgency. For some women, the symptoms can last as long as ten years!

None of those symptoms make work easier. As women in a woman-dominated profession, is this our chance to do something to ease our collective suffering? If so, what could we do? Create refrigerated nap rooms? Stock our libraries with first-aid kits containing sleeping, pep, and happy pills? Posting memory aids to remind people where to find the first aid kits and nap rooms?

According to the Internet, one big problem is that menopause is still a taboo subject at work. In our sexist and ageist society, some women might prefer to suffer silently rather than risk the “old lady” stereotype. Also, admittedly, the list of menopause symptoms doesn’t really seem to describe the perfect employee—unless depressed, irritable, sleep-deprived, forgetful folks who are in the bathroom all the time are the new ideal! However, I suppose that until the robots take over, the only employee choice is humans, and all humans are far from ideal. No sex or age group of employees is without problems. As irritable and moody as women of a certain age might get at times, men appear to have the greater mood regulation problems at work, since they commit the vast majority of the 2 million workplace assaults each year.

So what can be done to improve the work lives of older women? Anne Loehr has 7 tips for leaders to create a menopause friendly workplace:

  • Educate managers about the symptoms of menopause,
  • Appoint an in-office advocate to advocate for women going through menopause,
  • Include menopausal support in wellness programs,
  • Expand benefits to include alternative therapies such as acupuncture,
  • Include menopause in wellness week activities,
  • Improve flexibility in hours and sick days, and
  • Allow flexible schedules when needed.

Perhaps the most important thing is to normalize menopause by just talking about it at work, like any other medical situation or life stage. Like menstruation, menopause is a standard human experience for the majority of humans—since there are slightly more women than men in the world. However, any sort of health situation can feel isolating when not shared with others, so perhaps we can support each other by working to normalize the normal at our workplaces.



Posted in Career, Humor, Issues in Law Librarianship, Issues in Librarianship (generally), RIPS blog, Uncategorized, Work/Life Balance | Leave a comment

Statistics and Academic Law Library Survival

business-2089534_1920(Full disclosure is required here. Although our library does not participate in ALLStAR, mentioned within this post, they have offered and I have accepted a trial offer to dig around a little bit more. I promise to do an update, but I already value the work they are doing in leading us to develop meaningful and useful statistics. Someone has to begin somewhere!)

Over the past few years, law school worlds have been drastically altered. The number of students attending law school has dropped significantly. Although the number of LSAT takers has increased slightly, no new large wave of law students will materialize. This has alarmed many in legal academia, and rightly so. In addition, bar results are down in many states, baby boomers have not retired as expected, and the big law firms have given way to a more automated world. Taken together, it sounds like gloom and doom.

I say the opposite is true. We can reinvent ourselves like never before.

So, where do statistics come into play? The American Bar Association (ABA), which used to collect data from law school libraries in the Annual Questionnaire (AQ), whittled away at that process until they eliminated all law library data altogether. To replace what was lost, academic librarians have created a similar reporting system to the AQ used to provide. Academic Law Libraries: Statistics, Analytics and Reports (ALLStAR) is a project supported by the Yale Law Library and the NELLCO Law Library Consortium. Up to 75% of academic law libraries participate. It costs relatively little to do so, given the money we spend on other services. Among other things, ALLStAR collects information that parallels the last version of the Library AQ. For example, the last AQ asked questions about (1) the number of librarians; (2) the number of seats; and (3) the number of hours the library is open. During ABA collection years, some librarians were occasionally counted as adjunct faculty, making complete numbers difficult to determine. Some schools had 24-hour access for their students, but no staff available during many of those hours. Staffed hours were questioned as well, but there are so many variables that, once again, apples-to-apples comparison was challenging.

The advisory board to ALLStAR works continually to make the system as relevant as possible to our profession. I am hoping at some point to be a participating member especially since I have approval from both our finance and assessment deans. Staff time and other demands have put the project on hold for now but I believe the goal of ALLStAR is definitely worth the effort.

The statistics I ask staff to keep are similar to the some of the items that ALLStAR collects. They benchmark certain aspects of our work and provide points of comparison across libraries. We routinely do headcounts. Our circulation staff report the number of transactions per month. We keep track of interlibrary loan. The reference staff probably does one of the most difficult and maybe most important recordkeeping jobs; we keep reference statistics. All these statistics are valuable to our everyday work and justification of services and staffing. The numbers kept have always reflected to some degree what our accreditors, the ABA and HLC, as well as the government (IPEDS) have asked of us. Their loosening of the reins has had us revisit what is the most important recordkeeping to us. It is nice to compare budgets, but at long as I have been a director, our budget has been large and spending per student is low. I am confident that is the case with any larger school most of the time. In today’s environment, unfortunately, it really will not matter to my dean how we compare budget-wise to our peer schools. Our budget will not significantly go up because of what a school across the border is doing. It will matter that we can tell her how often we interact with our students and if they are using our facilities.

I ultimately believe statistics are very important. Some library directors have saved positions and acquisitions from significant budget cuts thanks to statistics they retrieved from ALLStAR.

We are entering a very interesting time in law librarianship. There is no doubt that librarians of today will be librarians of tomorrow only if they think outside the box and stake a claim in the success of the law schools’ students. Statistics are one way to help establish a baseline if they have internal value.

What accrediting agencies do you keep statistics for? Does your library participate in ALLStAR? Do you keep any statistics that are not reported in ALLStAR? If yes, what are they and why are they kept? Are they useful? Are there statistics you think you should keep, but are not? Why not?

(Thanks to my three pre-press reviewers; you know who you are. Also, thanks to the help NELLCO and a number of volunteers are giving to this important endeavor of record-keeping!)

Posted in Empirical legal research, Factual & Investigative Research, Issues in Law Librarianship, Library Statistics, Productivity, Reference Services, RIPS blog, Uncategorized | Leave a comment