AALL Registration Grant Winner 2005

Kevin Reiss, Rutgers Law Library

I want to thank NJLLA and AALL for giving me the opportunity to attend the annual AALL conference in San Antonio this July. The registration scholarship I was awarded enabled me to attend the conference which offered an interesting variety of substantive programs and enjoyable networking events. The conference allowed me to expand my professional contacts, meet some fun and interesting law librarians, as well as gain useful professional knowledge.

Of particular interest was a presentation by the Frank Cervone, a digital librarian from Northwestern University, on the topics of federated searching and the OpenURL protocol. These two items are of special interest to academic law librarians since these tools seek to enable users to conduct searching of all an organizations subscription databases, library catalog, and other electronic resources at once. The ability to do this type of searching is in demand with our users who are accustomed to the one-stop shopping approach of Internet search engines.

The provocative comments of the keynote speaker, Roy Tennant of the University of California Digital Library, were also instructive and entertaining. His advice that libraries must step up to the challenge to our role as information providers that are presented by commercial entities such as Google and Amazon cannot be taken lightly. Users are coming to expect easy to use and efficient services that bring them to the materials they seek quickly.

Tennant exhorted librarians to utilize their subject expertise to start creating user-centered services that can do a better job enabling users to find the information they seek than those provided by our commercial competitors. Our intimate knowledge of our users and our materials can be used to our advantage over generic competitors like Internet search engines. Using our subject-specific knowledge along with effective and easy to use search interfaces developed using modern techniques of web design backed by search technologies based upon emerging standards for searching such as OpenURL should allow us to provide better tools than the more broad approaches to searching presented by services like Google and Amazon.

I appreciate NJLLA granting me the scholarship and I look forward to seeing my colleagues at future meetings.