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After finishing the last post I kept thinking about the above question.  Realizing how many times I’ve been asked that by intelligent people who have the power to affect how libraries operate.  I always try to educate them that no it is not all online and we pay high prices for the databases we do have.  However, the perception remains and part of that percetion is that libraries and librarians (because we all know that all librarians do is keep track of the books) are becoming obsolete. 

To me one of the ironies of all of this is that librarians are one of the driving forces to getting more information online and making it free to the public.  We applaud Google and all the work they are doing ,we try to digitize our own collections for preservation and for open access use by the public, without violating anyone’s copyright of course.   A fellow librarian told me yesterday: I WANT IT ALL ONLINE.  I think many of us feel the same; having information online is a good thing and it is the way the future is headed.  See Lory Hough’s post on the subject. 

We fight the paywall when we can.  Work groups like Law.gov and the AALL state groups for the authentication of online government information, are trying not only to get more legal information online free of charge but make that information “official” just like the print versions. 

Which leads to a question, are we digitizing ourselves out of jobs?

No, we aren’t.  The addition of more free information online doesn’t mean less work for librarians, it really means more work maintaining, organizing and preserving the digital content.  It also means more education for the public and that is my point.  The question is frustrating because of the lack of understanding by the public and sometimes by the powers that be, that it isn’t all online, and it definitely isn’t all free and most importantly even if/when it is all online you will still need a guide through the digital jungle of information.

So I ask you, do we need to educate our patrons and the public better or wait for them to catch up to the fact that libraries are leading the way and by no means obsolete?

Probably the most frustrating question or statement an information professional can hear.  I think the reason it is most frustrating is because it shows a total ignorance of the information that is actually available and an unwillingness to understand why print is still relevant and it assumes the information is free.

 We all know the answer to the above question is NO it is not all online.  But the rest of the answer is: Yes, a lot of legal information and texts are online, however, they are not free.  Google doesn’t have most of what is online from legal publishers, Westlaw and Lexis do, and they charge for it, a lot. 

Greg Lambert put up a post yesterday about the Cherokee County Law Library in Texas and a letter by Ms. Josie Schoolcraft complaining about the use of county funds for the library.  I was curious so I looked at the budget sheet Ms. Schoolcraft referenced in her letter.  Indeed the county law library is spending $34,887.00 for FY 2010.  $17,000.00 going for law books and supplements and $12,000.00 going for Westlaw.  That is the only information available about what resources are being purchased.  Ms. Schoolcraft makes a big assumption that the print and online collections are duplicating services.  I would guess that the Texas Code and S.W. Decisions are duplicated in print and electronic but without further information it is hard to combat the ignorance of people like Ms. Schoolcraft. 

Ms. Schoolcraft seems to also be offended by the salary the secretary is paid to maintain the library.  She assumes that putting a computer in a room and walking away is all that is necessary.  Who puts paper in the printer?  Who do patrons approach if the computer is acting funny?  If the password doesn’t work or accidently gets deleted?  Aren’t these services at least worth a mere $4176.00 a year, $348.00 a month?  I truly hope Ms. Schoolcraft needs to use the county law library in Cherokee County sometime soon and understands that no, it isn’t all online.

I was not able to be in Denver for AALL 2010 so it may seem strange that I am posting a review of this year’s annual conference but I did have a Denver experience. It wasn’t the experience I wanted to have but through Twitter, Facebook, Twitpic, and AALL’s live feed of three sessions I did get to have a Denver experience.

Most of my conference experience was actually by following Twitter and the conference hash tag. I also followed Big Blue Bear and got to enjoy a good laugh and whimsical view of the conference from way above it all (thanks @aallbluebear). Some of the tweets were informative, some were fun and some had me wishing more than anything I was there in person instead of at my desk. Because as great as the tweets were no one could tweet everything said as it was happening so those of us following along know that Greg Lambert had some things to say to the vendors but we didn’t get to hear them for ourselves.

Sarah Glassmeyer was tweeting from the stage while she co-presented during the research guides session, one of three sessions that AALL streamed live from the conference. Personally I was unable to watch them due to technical difficulties on my end but I do plan on going back and watching the archives soon. Kudos to AALL for making sessions available to those of us who couldn’t attend without charging us to view them. I know that the full conference is available for a reasonable fee but the live feed was so much more thrilling. Another note was that AALL scrolled the Twitter feed during the streaming sessions. One thing I would like to see corrected is have the feed scroll forward instead of backwards. New tweets would pop up when the site refreshed but it seemed backwards watching the older tweets pushing the new tweets down the screen.

Attendees posted pictures on Facebook and Twitpic, some as soon as they snapped the pictures. I was never more disappointed at not being there than when I saw Tom Boone’s pictures of the opening reception mountain range cake and cotton candy by the bowl.

Most important for me was expanding my contacts and being able to network. I was able to expand my Twitter network by twice what it was before the conference. By following the conference I was able to see who is tweeting. It is a little sad to me that the percentage is so small, after following Twitter for a day you pretty much know everyone who will be tweeting during the conference. At the same time it became fun to see the same names come up again and again because once I looked at the profiles and started following them I could put a name (or screen name) with a face (or avatar).

I’m looking forward to Philly, I’ll be there next year, whether I pay for it myself or not, and meeting face to face with my new tweeps. Several ideas have already been floated about how to improve the Twitter feed next year, including a shorter hash tag and adding a hash tag for each individual session so someone following along can follow the session they are interested in instead of the stream of conscious of everyone’s tweets all together. Both great suggestions and I they are able to be implemented.

And thanks everyone who is now following me on Twitter.

The most recent opinions of the KY Supreme court came out today. I have no idea when or if there will be summaries of these opinions available on the site.

http://apps.courts.ky.gov/Supreme/Minutes/MNT06172010.pdf

For almost two years the assistant law librarian has produced summaries of the KY Supreme Court opinions.  Since he was laid off effective June 30th, this will be his last set.  The work will continue just not by library staff.

http://apps.courts.ky.gov/supreme/casesummaries/May2010.pdf

The next librarian I’m going to post on is Emma Guy Cromwell.  Cromwell served Kentucky not just as state law librarian but as Secretary of State, head of the Parks department and state librarian over the newly created Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives.

Cromwell wrote her autobiography “A Woman in Politics” and gave wonderful information about her election and her time as the state librarian.  Cromwell was an orphan from Western Kentucky who was educated by the Masonic Brotherhood of Louisville, Kentucky.  She excelled at school and was well liked.  She returned to western Kentucky and taught school until friends who were politically connected nominated her for the position of State Librarian.  In 1896, she traveled to Frankfort for the election of Librarian by the Legislature.  This was her first foray into politics and she gained an education in backroom deals and quid pro quo in legislative elections.   Cromwell only served as single two-year term, but would continue in Kentucky politics for years.  While in Frankfort she married a local man and remained in Frankfort.

 Cromwell gives us an interesting glimpse of the duties of the librarian during the late 1890s.  She tells the story of Judge Joseph H. Lewis of the Court of Appeals.  He would come into the library to sit and whittle and chew tobacco.  However, he refused to use the cuspidor and instead wanted to spit into the grate of the fireplace used to keep the room warm.  However, most times he missed the grate and the “beautiful new rug would suffer”.  As state librarian, Cromwell was called on to perform duties that were not listed by statute, such as making introductions of groups to the Governor, attending to groups who came to visit the Capitol and seating the legislature. 

After women were given the right to vote by the 19th Amendment, she was the first woman in Kentucky elected to public office in a general election, she became the Secretary of State in 1924.   While secretary of state, she found the collected papers of the governors from the first, Isaac Shelby, up to the administration of 1924.  Over two years, these documents were cataloged, organized, preserved and then transferred to the Kentucky State Historical Society.

Emma Guy Cromwell, during her second tenure as state librarian after the state library became the KDLA and the state law library became a distinct institution, traced the document to the Durrett Collection in Chicago and was able to prove that it belonged to the people of Kentucky and ensure its return.  This document and a very few others from the collection were returned and are housed at the Kentucky Historical Society-thanks to Cromwell.

I’ve hesitated to post about this because I’m still very emotional but I was informed at the beginning of May that as of July 1, 2010, 75% of my staff will be laid off.  This is more devastating when that number is translated into actual positions.  I have a staff of 4 and will have a staff of 1 on July 1st.  I’ve seen other articles and post about Connecticut, New Jersey and other law libraries being cut.  I feel lucky to still be open but know my services will drop to almost nil without staff.

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