Why I Value the Annual Meeting

by Isabel Paul

Back when my employer was economically disposed and generous enough to fund my attendance at the AALL Annual Meeting, it was understood that I would be gaining knowledge of some value to the library. Fortunately, I could always uphold more than my end of the bargain, and, as the 102nd Annual Meeting and Conference proved, I can continue to contribute.

It goes without saying that the Programs are the centerpiece of any AALL Meeting and I discovered several gems. Here is a brief recap of a few of the real sparklers.

For an update on relevant resources, there was nothing to compete with Finding Services for Seniors (Ourselves and Others). The featured speaker, Ellen Klem, a staff attorney with the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, really focused on information for the public, my dominant user group. Many of the publication she discussed are generated by the ABA and are available for free or for a nominal charge. Her numerous, detailed handouts featured other publications and many appropriate websites, including FTC consumer related pages, and the Alzheimer’s Association webpage and a description of its contents. As a final gesture of convenience, Ellen agreed to add names to the subscriber e-mail list for ABA’s Bifocal newsletter. I’ve already received my first issue!

Taking me completely out of my comfort zone was the program, Strategic Alliance: The Tribal Supreme Court Project. Richard Guest, staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, spoke about the organization’s goal of strengthening advocacy for Native Americans and improving their win-loss record before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Project monitors cases in state appellate and federal courts, submits amicus briefs on behalf of tribal government interests, offers advice and expertise on the certiorari process, reviews tribal briefs, and steers tribes away from cases with a remote chance of winning. To date, this group has participated in 12 cases that have been argued before the Supreme Court, with progress made under the Rehnquist Court (3 wins, 2 losses, 2 ties) and discouraging results with the Roberts Court (0 wins, 5 losses, with tribes winning in the lower courts on every case). Chris Pereira, Systems Administrator for the Project, demonstrated their impressive presence on the Web as they track cases pending before the Court and cases they are monitoring, and as they upload a complete online archive of court documents.

Finally, in an effort to sharpen my influence as a library manager, I attended Got Ideas? Tools and Techniques to Identify, Refine and Communicate Ideas That Stick! Presented by two dynamic speakers, our very own Gail Warren and Jean Holcomb, this program was designed to assist managers in recognizing bright ideas (unexpected, simple, concrete, credible, having emotional appeal, and telling a story), in nurturing staffs to think creatively, and in communicating so as to leave a lasting impression. Jean and Gail had their own bright idea for driving the message home: make the session interactive. Attendees were given a “Bright Idea Identification and Assessment Tool Template” and asked to engage their brains in the thought process. First, we had to come up with an idea, communicate the idea so that it would “stick”, and then evaluate it based on the 6 factors for identifying a bright idea.

As much as I was able to take home from this Meeting, I also intended to give back. So, I relinquished an hour for walking around the Exhibit Hall in order to sit at the SCCLL SIS table in the Activities Area. I was able to meet and greet many passing colleagues and old friends, and distribute materials about the SIS and the programs it sponsored this year. This was definitely time well spent.

In closing, I would like to thank Donna Bausch and the Grants Committee, and VALL’s financial largesse for making my attendance possible. May future grants provide a similarly enriching professional experience for many VALL members.

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The Virginia Association of Law Libraries (VALL) supports and serves its members’ professional pursuits by fostering a spirit of leadership and cooperation, providing educational and leadership opportunities, and promoting and enhancing the value of law libraries.

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