My first AALL Conference experience kept me on my toes. It was busy, filled with job interviews, networking opportunities, and interesting programs. I found particularly useful a program sponsored by RIPS-SIS, Connect with Patrons by Creating Strong Research Guides. The program was led by Catherine Dunn of the University of Maryland, Sara Sampson of the University of North Carolina, and Morgan Stoddard of Georgetown University.
One of the most important things a research guide can do is to confirm that a type of resource does not exist or that a tool cannot perform a particular function. This saves time and improves efficiency. Research guides can be used to teach skills through the use of videos and tutorials. They can cover areas beyond substantive law, such as job search and legal services. It is important that an organization keep internal consistency with its research guides. They should be viewed as serials that require periodic updating. For instance, revisions will be needed as materials are updated and links change. Finally, each guide should be the responsibility of a specific person in the library. This will ensure that it is updated on a regular basis.
Although we tend to think of research guides as a tool used mainly in academic law libraries, they can be useful in other settings, as well. Court libraries use research guides to reach out to public patrons and members of the bar. Law firms can utilize research guides to provide assistance to new attorneys fresh out of law school. Moreover, research guides are useful reminders to law librarians in any area as to how to approach certain types of legal research questions. If you are looking to learn more about research guides, you can find materials from the RIPS program here.
Thank you to LLOPS and the Grants Committee for supporting my attendance at the AALL Conference in Boston. My membership in LLOPS has enhanced my experience as a newcomer to law librarianship. I have no doubt it will contribute to my success in future endeavors.