Mapping a Future at the AALL Annual Meeting

by Greg Stoner

Since beginning my work in a law library in October 2008, I've heard a number of great comments about the value of attending conferences and workshops. This year, with very generous support from AALL, VALL and my employer, I was able attend my first AALL Annual Meeting.

For those of you I have not had a chance to meet, I came into the law library world with experience in special libraries and museums. To say I'm still getting my feet wet in this new environment would be an understatement. That said, the annual meeting was a great opportunity to dive in to so many areas of interest to me.

On Saturday I attended CONELL. I had heard a lot of good things about CONELL, but it was even more than I expected. Our "class" (about 100 of us) learned about AALL and special interest groups, met many important leaders in AALL (including our new president, Joyce Janto!), and had a chance to speed network with some of our classmates. We then had lunch and a guided tour of the beautiful Denver area. It was exciting to get such a great introduction to the organization and meet so many other individuals just starting out in the field. For me, CONELL also served as a great road map of what to expect during the rest of the conference.

During the conference I spent most of my time attending sessions and exploring the exhibit hall. One of the most interesting sessions I attended was entitled "Mile High Summit on Training: Are Things Coming to a Peak?" The panel, which included law firm librarians, a law professor, and a current law school student, discussed the numerous issues faced in law schools and firms today regarding the research skills of new attorneys. Clearly, while much discussion will continue on this age-old topic, it was very interesting for me to hear about the new and innovative ways firms are addressing the issue, as well as the perceptions of faculty and students about new expectations and changing practices. On the whole, it was encouraging to see that each of these groups recognized that while they do not have all the answers, they do have a shared optimism that has the potential to go a long way in ensuring that meaningful progress is made.

Of all that I learned at the annual meeting, I think the most important thing I took away is a better sense of how truly special it is to have the opportunity to work in a law library. More than ever, I saw how librarians bring an extensive set of unique skills and experiences to the table that has and will continue to allow progress to be made both in their firms and schools. It was exciting and encouraging to see the virtually unlimited opportunities law librarians have to work together to expand and enhance the definition of what it is to be a law librarian. I have no doubts that the acquaintances made and lessons learned at this meeting have better prepared me to make more meaningful contributions in my work and our law library community.

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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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