Top 17 for '17: A Year-End Roundup

Happy New Year! As I plan for the year ahead, it's always interesting to review The Ginger (Law) Librarian's top posts for the previous year. Here is the top 17 for 2017: 

1. Law School Rankings & Law Libraries: When administrators consider programs that directly affect rankings, law libraries are often left out of the equation. Rankings need to change. The perception of a law library's affect on rankings also needs to change.

2. Is It Time For a Legal Research Component on the Bar Exam?: While this would require reconceptualizing the bar exam, it would more fully represent what a lawyer actually does in practice. It would also adjust the test to the digital age where the current crop of law students grew up with the ability to find (and USE?) information at their fingertips. 

3. Rombauer Method of Legal Research: Instead of focusing on the various platforms, we should make the students comfortable with a process that works in any database — a process that will become familiar and repetitive to the students and one that they might actually use.

4. Law Libraries Under Cardiac Arrest: We've seen the long-standing claim of "law libraries as the heart of the law school" challenged in significant ways. Even as modern law libraries have moved beyond the print collection to a greater focus on creative, effective legal research regardless of format, we are still married to the print in most people's minds.

5. "Excuse Me, Can I Have a Turn?" Female SCOTUS Justices Heavily Interrupted: If it's this bad for arguably some of the most powerful women in the world, imagine what it's like for other women in the legal profession. We need to do better. 

6. Law Librarians Who (Know) Code: At a recent talk, it was recommended that law librarians learn enough about coding to understand how coding intersects with the organization and retrieval of information. To ensure that our systems function properly, we should all, at minimum, know what a programming language is, how to talk about it, and what coding can and cannot do.

7. The Problem with Impact Factor in Law: While working as a Faculty Services & Scholarly Communications Librarian, I presume I am not alone in being asked to create an impact factor for which to judge the scholarly work of faculty.

8. Law Libraries Supporting ABA Standards: Law libraries still heavily support the ABA Standards and should be seen as a valuable resource as law schools try to meet the new standards. 

9. Arthur Miller Articulates the Importance of Legal Research: When we are in the midst of being bombarded with the various microaggressions that are commonplace as a law librarian in the law school hierarchy, we might lose sight of why we do this.

10. Law Librarians Improving the Profession: One of the best things about AALL is meeting all of the wonderful people in the profession and feeling re-energized about tackling these issues. Let's use the momentum until we meet again next summer in Baltimore (with John Waters!). 

11. Analysis in Legal Research: Too often, searching for relevant information and the ultimate analysis of facts to law is disjointed. That's because teaching the analysis of the law is often left up to the doctrinal professors or the writing professors.

12. Law Libraries Retaining Talent: While at AALL Management Institute last spring, one of the other attendees asked Maureen Sullivan, our fearless leader and management expert, how law libraries can stop "hemorrhaging talent."

13. Designing a Law Library Learning Space: Most law library planning decisions are based on some qualitative data - like gate counts and check-out stats. But these decisions are also often based on library trends across the country without truly taking into account the individual needs of the local community.

14. Practical Considerations for Law Librarianship as Career: For anyone with an intellectually curious mind, you truly can't beat this profession.

15. A Concerted Effort to Collect Law Library Statistics: While this information will no longer be part of the ABA annual questionnaire, it still behooves law libraries to maintain statistics for benchmarking purposes. ALLStAR may just be the concerted effort that we need to fill this impending gap in our information.

16. The Dark Side of Open Access Publishing: Normally, I am a staunch advocate for open-access (OA) publishing. But with a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (sub. req'd.), it became clear that advocating for OA publishing without mentioning the possible pitfalls is irresponsible.

17. The ABA Self-Study: Law Library Leadership Must Articulate Contributions to Program of Legal Education: Law library leadership working on ABA Site Visits must ensure that our contributions to the program of legal education are clearly spelled out in the Self-Assessment. If we don't act to articulate the vast contributions of the law library to the program of legal education, we could continue to see the law library's importance shrink to oblivion. 

Law librarianship is such a wonderful, varied profession with so much to discuss. I look forward to a robust 2018 with many new posts on a wide variety of topics. If you see anything of particular interest, please send it my way at jamie.baker@ttu.edu. 

Thank you for your continued readership. Here's to a wonderful 2018! 

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