NJLLA Grant Winner 2016

Joanne Murphy
AALL Annual Meeting, Chicago, 2016

Thank you, NJLLA, for awarding me the Annual Meeting Grant to attend AALL 2016 in Chicago. There are many positive reasons to attend the Annual Meeting. Not only does the AALL Annual Meeting provide great opportunities to meet law librarians from all over the country; there are always many interesting and very worthwhile educational programs to attend, as well as social events at which to strike up new friendships. An added bonus, for me, was that I had never been to Chicago; so it was a good opportunity for me to experience a new city.  

I was especially fortunate to be able to attend the Annual Meeting (as Chapter President) during a year in which AALL held the one day Chapter Summit. On the Friday before the conference, I joined 50 other Chapter Presidents and Vice-Presidents for the day-long Chapter Summit. Also present were the out-going AALL President, Keith Ann Stiverson, the Immediate Past President, Holly Riccio and the incoming President, Ron Wheeler. The Summit consisted of networking as well as identifying potential problems we could face in our chapters and formulating possible solutions. It was an interesting, productive and fun day that also included lunch and a reception afterwards. Peggy Hoffman of Mariner Management led the day.  

Also in my capacity as NJLLA Chapter President, I attended Chapter Legal Training on Saturday morning. Led by Paula Goedert, the chair of the Associations & Foundations Practice at Barnes & Thornburg, it focused on the legal aspects of the role of leaders in a non-profit professional association. It was a very interesting and very important program. I learned a great deal, and feel better prepared for the legal issues that our chapter could potentially face. Paula was very interesting and funny; she illustrated her points using amusing anecdotes gathered from her many years of advising non-profit professional associations. This was a very worthwhile meeting.

I also attended the Council of Chapter President’s Annual Business Meeting where we learned about a recently-adopted resolution sponsored by the Social Responsibilities SIS and the Environmental Libraries and Animal Law Caucuses, Sustainability in Law Libraries. David Selden, Library Director of the National Indian Law Library, spoke with us about striving for zero carbon emissions from travel to and from conferences by purchasing carbon offsets.  

Once again, the PLLIP-SIS Annual Business Meeting was a chance to connect specifically with other law firm librarians from all over the country. When so much of the AALL Annual Meeting is dominated by the academic world, it is always nice to attend an event where I can be among my fellow law firm librarians in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. This year’s meeting did not disappoint. 

Of all the programs I attended, two really stand out for me, “How Congress Really Works: Rethinking Legislative History” and “Virtual Footprints: Vetting People in the Digital Age”. These two programs gave me information and ideas that I was able to put to use as soon as I returned to work.  

“How Congress Really Works: Rethinking Legislative History”, was very interesting. One of the speakers, Victoria Nourse, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, included amusing anecdotes and quotes from a Supreme Court oral argument to illustrate why her legislative history procedure of reverse-engineering makes sense. Professor Nourse proposed that, in order to compile an accurate and useful legislative history, one needs to understand Congressional procedure. If you don’t know the difference between a conference report and a committee report, you probably don’t know which to rely on more heavily. She suggested working backwards from the public law text instead of beginning with the proposed bill text. By working backwards, you can identify the important pieces of the history without getting bogged down with unnecessary information. Suppose, she suggested, a committee report was superseded by floor amendments – the committee report may wind up being irrelevant. There’s no point in spending time and energy collecting material that, ultimately, isn’t necessary. I thought this was a very interesting approach to legislative history.  

“Virtual Footprints: Vetting People in the Digital Age” was also a very worthwhile program. Jennifer McMahan and Michele Masias, both librarians at the US Department of Justice (before the DOJ, Masias was with the Executive Office of the President), were very interesting and full of good ideas and tips. They discussed the websites they went to regularly when vetting people for the DOJ. A very useful handout of those sources, separated into sections, such as Education, Professional Credentials, Public Records Filings, etc. (http://www.governmentinfopro.com/VettingResources.pdf) was distributed. 

In all, I thought it was a very worthwhile trip and a great conference. Thank you again to NJLLA for helping to make my attendance possible.