Congratulations to the 2013 Oakley and PAGI Advocacy Award Winners

April 24, 2013

By Elizabeth

We are pleased to announce the 2013 recipients of AALL’s prestigious Robert L. Oakley Advocacy Award (Oakley) and Public Access to Government Information Award (PAGI). Timothy L. Coggins, Associate Dean for Library and Information Services & Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law Library will receive the Oakley Award, and the late Aaron Swartz, internet freedom activist, will receive the PAGI Award at this year’s Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA. The winners were chosen by the Government Relations Committee in consultation with the Awards Committee.

Tim has played a significant role in AALL’s government relations program since its inception and has been an outstanding advocate for the AALL policy agenda through a number of leadership roles. Tim served as chair of the Government Relations Committee (1991-92 and 2005-2006); chair of a special Task Force on Government Relations Activities (1993-94); co-chair of the AALL Working Group on information Technology and Implementation (1996-1998); chair of the Access to Electronic Information Committee (2006-07); chair of the Electronic Legal Information Access & Citation Committee (2010-11); member of the Washington Affairs Office Review Special Committee (2008-09); and is currently a member of the Government Policy Advisory Group (2011-2013). Tim’s service helped to establish a major role for AALL and its members as information experts on government use of technology for authentic and accessible public information.

Aaron, an internet freedom activist, is credited with revolutionizing the way that hundreds of millions of people around the world receive information and interact with their own governments.  As a talented programmer and open access advocate, Aaron was most known for his efforts to open access to information locked behind paywalls, including the 2008 download and release of 20 million pages from PACER for free public access. In 2011, he was arrested and indicted with wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer after downloaded a large number of academic journal articles from JSTOR through MIT’s computer network. At the time of his death in 2013, Aaron’s prosecution for the crime was pending. Aaron left behind a strong legacy of advocacy for greater public access to government information.

We are pleased to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s remarkable award winners. We hope you’ll join us at the Public Policy Update (B4) at the 2013 Annual Meeting on Sunday, July 14, where both awards will be presented.

Staying Informed on Copyright and Fair Use

April 30, 2012

The 3rd Annual World’s Fair Use Day (WFUD) is this Fri. May 4, 2012. The day-long, free event will be held at the Pew Charitable Trusts Conference Center in Washington, DC. Sessions throughout the day will examine fair use in a number of creative contexts, including poetry, fashion, music and journalism.

WFUD attendees will also explore the aftermath of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011rotect Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP Act or PIPA), both of which were grossly overreaching efforts of Congress to protect copyright holders. The threat to First Amendment freedoms, creative expression, and the advancement of knowledge posed by these bills was so great that the public responded swiftly. Both bills were soundly thwarted by widespread, grassroots social media efforts. WFUD organizers hope to sustain the momentum from these efforts and keep the public and content creators engaged in the dialogue.

The AALL Copyright Committee will be exploring SOPA as well during a unique program at the upcoming AALL Annual Meeting in Boston. On Sun. July 22 at 3:45 the Committee hosts program C5 Hot Topics in Copyright for Librarians. This program will offer updates on three timely copyright issues; orphan works, copyright as applied to state and local documents, and recent developments in copyright legislation (SOPA/PIPA) and litigation (Google Books, GSU, etc.). Annual Meeting attendees may also be interested in Using Creative Commons Licenses, sponsored by the M/AV Special Interest Section on Tues. July 24 at 3:45 pm. Librarians, as both creators and consumers of information, have a responsibility to be well-informed in matters of copyright and fair use, and should take advantage of these upcoming learning opportunities.

Guest post by Tracy L. Thompson-Przylucki, Vice Chair, AALL Copyright Committee

Register for AALL’s July 21 Advocacy Training in Boston

April 23, 2012

Do you want to sharpen your advocacy skills, learn how to promote AALL’s top policy priorities and meet new colleagues, all while having a great time? AALL’s Government Relations Committee and Government Relations Office invite you to our half-day Advocacy Training on Saturday, July 21 in Boston, “Becoming an Effective Advocate.”

This year’s agenda is packed with informative sessions on our federal policy priorities, progress on the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) and the future of the Federal Depository Library Program.

To attend the training, please RSVP to Director of Government Relations Emily Feltren by June 15. Space is limited. We look forward to seeing you there!

Legislative Advocacy Training 2012: Becoming an Effective Advocate

Saturday, July 21, 2012 ∙ 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

8:30-9:00 a.m. Coffee and Networking

9:00-9:10 a.m. Welcome and Introductions

  • Catherine Dunn, Chair, 2011-2012 Government Relations Committee

9:10-9:40 a.m. Importance of Being an Advocate

  • Mike Verseckes, former Massachusetts Legislative Staffer

9:40-10:00 a.m. 2012 AALL Federal Legislative Update and How You Can Help

  • Emily Feltren, AALL Director of Government Relations

10:00-10:15 a.m. Coffee Break

10:15-10:45 a.m. Update on UELMA – Where Are We Now?

  • Tina Ching, Chair, 2011-2012 Digital Access to Legal Information Committee
  • Michele Finerty, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law
  • Beth Williams, Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center Library

10: 50-11:30 a.m. Breakout Sessions (choose one)

Breakout 1: Advocating for UELMA in Your State

  • Led by Michele Finerty

Breakout 2: Participating in the Future of the FDLP

  • Led by Sarah (Sally) G. Holterhoff, Chair, FDLP Task Force

11:35-11:50 a.m. Reports from Breakout Sessions

11:50-12:00 p.m. Wrap-up

  • Catherine Dunn

Join Us in Philadelphia for the Government Relations Office/Advocacy Meet and Greet

July 21, 2011

On Tuesday July 26, AALL’s Government Relations Office staff will host an informal “Coffee Talk” at the Annual Meeting in Philadelphia to chat about how AALL and chapter members can effectively advocate for law libraries. Please stop by to share your stories and ideas and discuss how we can work together to make a difference at the federal, state and local levels. The coffee talk will take place from 8:00-8:45 a.m. in PCC-Grand Hall.

To learn more about AALL’s public policy priorities and how you can get involved, we hope you’ll put our policy programs on your schedule. See you in Philly!

Please Join Us for AALL’s 2011 Advocacy Training in Philadelphia

March 15, 2011

This year’s Advocacy Training, “Turning Challenges into Opportunities,” will be held on Saturday, July 23 from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at AALL’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. As you can see from our agenda, by attending the training you’ll learn about new PACER developments and how to use the service more efficiently, celebrate the progress of AALL’s working groups and hear about the status of the National Inventory of Legal Materials.

If you can attend the Advocacy Training, you’ll be able to choose between two important breakout sessions:

  • Breakout Session 1, “Promoting Digital Authentication in Your State,” will give you an opportunity to brainstorm ways to promote digital authentication to state policymakers when NCCUSL’s uniform act is rolled out in your state. Keith Ann Stiverson, AALL Observer to the NCCUSL Drafting Committee on the Authentication and Preservation of State Electronic Legal Materials Act, will lead this session, which will leave you energized and prepared to talk to state officials about the importance of digital authentication.
  • Breakout Session 2, “The Future of the FDLP,” will give you the chance to discuss ideas for sustaining the role of law libraries in the program. This  interactive and exciting session will be led by current Depository Library Council member Sally Holterhoff.

Thanks to the ongoing support of AALL’s Executive Board, the Advocacy Training is available at no cost to AALL and chapter members. Please email Emily Feldman by June 1 if you would like to attend. We hope to see you there!

AALL GRC Seeks Nominations for the 2011 Public Access to Government Information and Robert L. Oakley Advocacy Awards

December 13, 2010

AALL’s Government Relations Committee is seeking nominations for the 2011 Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) Award and the Robert L. Oakley Advocacy Award. Both awards are administered by the Government Relations Committee in coordination with the AALL Awards Committee. Please send your nominations directly to GRC Chair Stephanie Hess by February 1, 2011.

AALL Public Access to Government Information (PAGI) Award

Since 1999 AALL has presented the PAGI Award annually to recognize individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to protect and promote greater public access to government information. The Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School received last year’s award for their innovative work as a leading source of open access to legal information.

The 2009 PAGI Award went to the Sunlight Foundation.  Founded by lawyer Michael Klein and public interest advocate Ellen Miller, the foundation has developed a wide assortment of projects using innovative technologies to make information about Congress and the federal government more meaningfully accessible to citizens.

Other past PAGI award winners include OMB Watch (2008) for their more than 35 years of dedication to promoting government transparency and accountability, and Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy (2006) for his commitment to speaking out against unnecessary government secrecy.

Recipients of the PAGI award may be any individual or organization. Members of the Government Relations Office of AALL are not eligible. Judging criteria includes:

  • A contribution that significantly improves public access to government information, thereby increasing the public’s knowledge about the workings of government. The award is given in accordance with AALL’s mission to provide leadership in the field of legal information and to promote equal access to government information. The award will reflect this by honoring the achievements of those who have championed public access.
  • The extent to which the individual or organization has had a positive impact on protecting and promoting public access to governmental information.
  • The extent to which the effort advances the AALL mission and Government Relations Policy.

Please visit for further details.

Robert L. Oakley Advocacy Award

Established in 2008, the Advocacy Award is given to recognize an AALL member or group for outstanding advocacy work contributing significantly to the AALL policy agenda at the federal, state, local, or international level. The award honors the memory of Robert L. Oakley, AALL’s Washington affairs representative (1989-2007) who received the first award posthumously.

Last year’s award honored the Ohio Regional Association of Law Libraries (ORALL) County Law Library Special Interest Group for their successful efforts to protect funding for Ohio’s county law libraries. We were very pleased that several members of ORALL attended last year’s Public Policy Update to accept the award. Previous award winners include Rick McKinney, author of LLSDC’s Legislative Source Book – an impressive publication of online legislative resources – and Robert L. Oakley, who received the award posthumously in 2008.

AALL members and groups, with the exception of current members of the Government Relations Committee, are eligible for this award. Nominees must have made a significant contribution to the advocacy agenda of the Association.  Judging criteria includes:

  • A significant contribution to the advocacy agenda of the Association. The award is given in accordance with AALL’s mission to provide leadership in the field of legal information and to promote equal access to government information. The award will reflect this by honoring the achievements of those who have been especially energetic or effective advocates of this mission.
  • The extent to which the individual or group has been an active advocate for law libraries and legal information at the federal, state, or local level.
  • The extent to which the advocacy advances the AALL mission and Government Relations Policy.

Additional details are available at

Both awards will be presented during the AALL Public Policy Update on Monday, July 25, 2011 at 8:45 AM at the AALL Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA.  To learn more about the PAGI and Oakley awards as well as the work of the Government Relations Committee, please visit the Committee at

A Closer Look at the “Future of FOIA”

July 22, 2010

On Tuesday, July 13, during the Annual Meeting in Denver, AALL Government Relations Committee member Susan Nevelow Mart moderated a panel discussion on “The Future of FOIA” (J1). The program featured Miriam Nisbet, Director of the new Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and Anne Weismann, Chief Counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Employing an engaging, conversational style format, the speakers highlighted recent changes in FOIA and the important work of OGIS in mediating FOIA disputes and offering training to agencies. Ms. Nisbet thanked AALL for supporting the creation of OGIS as part of the OPEN Government Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-175) and ensuring that it was housed at NARA.

Ms. Nisbet gave an overview of the work that her office, which was established in September 2009, has been doing to help requestors and educate agencies, and her hopes to continue to expand outreach to members of the public and agencies. She explained that in this era of “information inflation,” it’s especially important to train agency personnel so that they can be more responsive to FOIA requests.

Ms. Weismann, a FOIA litigator, discussed some of the positive changes to FOIA under the Obama Administration. She noted that, “When Obama took office, it was like coming out of a very long, very dark tunnel.” OGIS, she said, “represents a bright spot on the FOIA horizon” and “fundamentally changes the relationship between the requestor and agency.”

Ms. Weismann discussed the excitement that open government advocates felt when President Obama released his Memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act and Attorney General Holder followed up with guidance for agencies. However, she expressed her continued frustration  that while a lot of the pieces to improve FOIA have been put in place, there’s still a long way to go to change the culture of secrecy in government, even under the Obama Administration. For example, the Administration has continued to use some of the same arguments of the Bush Administration in several court cases with CREW, and initially refusing to disclose White House visitor logs. (The White House later changed its position and began posting online the records of visitors in September 2009.)

Susan Nevelow Mart has compiled a very valuable guide to FOI Resources on the Internet to help law librarians, academics and members of the public find more information about FOIA. It  includes links to the Web sites of agencies, universities and nonprofit organizations that host FOIA documents, as well as FOIA blogs and wikis. Thank you, Susan, for putting together this helpful resource and moderating this excellent program!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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