Behind the Scenes of the Legally Literate Librarian

By Greg Stoner
At the recent VLA/VALL Annual Conference, I helped contribute to the program "The Legally Literate Librarian," with my colleague, Jeanne Ullian, and Terry Long, from the Virginia State Law Library. Our program focused on providing an introduction to commonly used legal terms and explaining how to read and interpret a case. While the topic may seem somewhat elementary, we imagined this presentation could be very helpful to librarians who encounter legal questions in their work and may not be able to understand a legal citation or have little familiarity with core resources such as reporters, legal dictionaries and encyclopedias.

I found that the process of planning a program and working with a team of dedicated VALL members was personally very rewarding. Isabel Paul, who was unable to be at the conference, helped us brainstorm about ways to approach the topic and concepts to cover. Jeanne quickly took the lead on the project and helped develop the program plan, identified a case to discuss, and compiled a series of useful handouts for the attendees. I worked on creating the PowerPoint presentation, and Terry contributed sage advice and additional ideas for the program. In the end, I think we all helped contribute to a program that combined our experience and unique insights in working with different types of patrons (attorneys, judges, public, etc.). Our feedback was very positive and suggested the program was right on target for many of our attendees.

Overall, as noted, I very much enjoyed being able to help out in delivering a program of interest to such a diverse audience. It is my hope that this program, as well as others held at the conference, draws attention to the hard work going on in law libraries and the dedication of our members to promoting legal information literacy to the larger community.

For those VALL members who are considering presenting in the future, I highly encourage it! Not only will you be able to help others learn - you will probably learn something too. My thanks to Jeanne, Terry, Isabel and Ben Almoite (who gave our group a great introduction) - it was both an honor and a pleasure working with you!

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