January 29 LLOPS Meeting

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By , January 28, 2014 10:51 am

Please join us for the first meeting of 2014!  Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 29th from Noon – 1:00 PM.

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AALL Call for Committee Volunteers

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By , January 22, 2014 7:31 am

by Amy Eaton

Did you see that the AALL Call for Committee Volunteers is now open?

If you have ever thought about volunteering, I want to urge you to do so. I have volunteered on several committees and found the work to be fun, challenging and almost always helped me in my career. Often committee work gave me an opportunity to lead and demonstrate my capabilities when perhaps my work position did not offer managerial responsibilities. Committee work introduced me to librarians in other types of libraries, many of whom I am friends with still. Explore the various committees and select those that interest you. Complete the volunteer form and do take section 8 seriously. Explain why you are interested in that specific committee (or committees). If you have a passion for vendor relations, share it! The association needs volunteers from all regions and all types of libraries. If you tried before and did not get appointed, please try again. This might be your lucky year!

Call for Committee Volunteers Now Open

Become an active member of our Association by volunteering for an AALL committee. Our committees help to implement AALL’s strategic directions. AALL thrives because our members get involved, and you benefit from the professional experience and collegiality of committee membership. You will have the opportunity to meet AALL members from all types of law libraries and from all parts of the country.

There are 24 standing committees to choose from. The committees focus on either policy issues or process functions. Please review the charges and other committee information available on the committee pages of AALLNET. These pages provide the charge of each committee, as well as an overview of the work involved, anticipated time commitment, and any suggested member qualifications.

AALL benefits when a variety of perspectives are represented on committees. Newer members, experienced members, and members from all types of libraries and functions are encouraged to apply. Your work provides the energy to move AALL forward!

Please complete and submit the AALL Committee Volunteer Form by February 14.

High School Legal Research

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By , January 2, 2014 12:18 pm

by Tal Noznisky

On Tuesdays, I work with young people at Seattle 826, a non-profit tutoring center. Recently, a high school student needed help drafting a position paper on capital punishment. The student already planned to argue for capital punishment and against its most common renunciations. He wanted to play the contrarian and discover both sides of the capital punishment debate. I was game to assist, and delighted to facilitate legal research using free and accessible Internet resources. But where to begin?

The student came in with a focused set of ideas, but was two large steps shy of stable outline. He needed factual support for his argument and he needed to organize a persuasive flow. Fortunately he had a powerful secret weapon to get things rolling: a list of sources recommended by none other than the teacher who would grade the paper. I suggested, “Let’s look some of these up.”

The list had some favorable “greatest hits” on the subject, including Justice Antonin Scalia’s 2008 statement denying a rehearing in Kennedy v. Louisiana and a link to Pew Research Center’s Death Penalty topic page. Starting there, the student branched out through embedded or cited links and Google. A big picture view of the essay appeared. We talked it out and discovered what exactly he wanted to say. The details started coming together as well.

Through some rapid structured Googling, the student found that similar statistics about public opinion and cost of capital punishment were used for opposing opinions. He weaved the data from those arguments into his own, founded on Scalia’s, and addressed counter-arguments based on the same info. He was in the advantageous position of recognizing both sides and knowing which persuasion to take as his thesis statement.

I really hope that, besides an A+ paper outline, the student took away a process for researching hot-button and legally-oriented opinions. Those can easily drift toward fringe or inflammatory ideas that, while intriguing, do not make strong persuasive essays. Google is full of crazy ideas, but with a reliable base camp of, say, sources your teacher wants to see mentioned in your paper, good research just got easier.

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