New Website for State Online Legal Information

April 9, 2013

 By Elizabeth

The Digital Access to Legal Information Committee (DALIC) has created a new website to host information about the status of online legal materials in every state with respect to authentication, official status, preservation, permanent public access, copyright, and universal citation.

The new website brings together information from AALL’s National Inventory of Legal Materials and updates AALL’s Preliminary Analysis of AALL’s State Legal Inventories2007 State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources, and 2009-2010 State Summary Updates. State pages will be updated as information changes. DALIC members will monitor the site and periodically check in with AALL’s state working groups to ensure the accuracy of the information.

DALIC also welcomes your additions or updates to information about legal materials in your state. If you have information to offer, please fill out our online form. A member of DALIC will contact you to verify the information you provide.

AALL’s Government Relations Office and Chapters: A Perfect Partnership

November 14, 2011

The Government Relations Office (GRO) relies on AALL’s chapters to track key legislation and trends at the state level. When an issue arises, chapter leaders are encouraged to contact the GRO so that we can offer advice, help draft letters or testimony, and reach out to stakeholder groups for support. In turn, AALL relies on our chapters to speak up when we need help influencing policy at the federal level.

As Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” The relationships that AALL and chapter members develop with their elected officials at the federal and state levels, and the expertise that they bring to those relationships, is the key to our success.

Our advocacy partnership works because it’s a two-way street. The GRO offers support when an issue arises at the state level. For example, earlier this year we coordinated efforts with the Dallas Association of Law Librarians (DALL), Houston Area Law Librarians (HALL) and Southwestern Association of Law Libraries (SWALL) on a letter to express concerns about a proposal  to eliminate funding for the Texas State Law Library. In addition, as our case study describes, AALL worked closely with the Southern New England Law Librarians Association (SNELLA) in 2009/2010 to oppose the closures of Connecticut’s courthouse libraries. Our coordinated effort helped gain more than 1,100 signatures on AALL’s petitions to oppose the closures and garnered the support of the state and local bar associations who helped us in our efforts to save the libraries.

The GRO also turns to chapters to apply pressure at the federal level where it is needed most. We draft letters for the chapter president to sign, send you action alerts to forward to your members, and ask you to speak up when an important issue arises. For example, we recently asked chapters to contact Members of Congress in support of funding for the Government Printing Office.

The partnership between the GRO and chapters is facilitated by Government Relations Committee “liaisons,” who are members of the Government Relations Committee that work with their assigned chapters to form personal relationships and establish a channel of communication between the Government Relations Office, Government Relations Committee, and all of our chapters. AALL also recently launched a new listserv for chapter leaders that will help us stay informed about what is happening at the state level and help chapter leaders connect with each other around shared concerns. This listserv includes Chapter Presidents, Vice Presidents, Government Relations/Legislative Committee Chairs and the Government Relations Office staff.

The GRO also offers resources to help chapters establish effective Government Relations Committees. AALL’s Advocacy Toolkit includes sections on creating effective Government Relations/Legislative Committeesexamples of letters chapters have sent to government officials, and case studies that describe — step-by-step — successful advocacy efforts at the state level. In addition, the GRO and Government Relations Committee participate in an annual Chapter Leadership Roundtable: Government Relations at AALL’s Annual Meeting to discuss the latest issues with chapter members.

To get more involved in your chapter’s advocacy efforts, contact your chapter’s Government Relations Committee Chair. To start a new committee, please email AALL’s Interim Director of Government Relations Emily Feltren. Your contributions will make a difference!

SNELLA and AALL Celebrate Passage of Bill to Save Connecticut’s Courthouse Law Libraries

May 11, 2010

On Wednesday, May 5, the last day of the 2010 Connecticut Legislative Session, the General Assembly passed a budget bill for the new fiscal year that includes adequate funding for the Judicial Branch to ensure that the Bridgeport, Hartford and Litchfield courthouse law libraries will remain open. Pending lease renegotiations with the owner of the Willimantic Juvenile Courthouse, the Willimantic courthouse law library may also continue operations. Unfortunately, the Milford and Norwich law libraries, which closed on April 1, will not reopen.

The fight to save Connecticut’s courthouse law libraries began last fall when Governor Jodi M. Rell cut a stunning $12.9 million from the Judicial Branch’s budget. In November 2009, Chief Court Administrator Judge Barbara M. Quinn testified before the Joint Committee on Appropriations that she would be forced to close six of the state’s sixteen courthouse law libraries unless $7.8 million was restored to the Judicial Branch’s budget. In response to the threat of these closures, the Southern New England Law Librarians Association (SNELLA) and AALL worked together for months to ensure that adequate funding was restored to the Judicial Branch’s budget to keep the law libraries open.

This victory for users of the Bridgeport, Hartford and Litchfield courthouse law libraries would not have been possible without the many law librarians and allies in the state who spoke up in opposition to the closures. In January 2010, AALL and SNELLA posted five online petitions to save the libraries in Bridgeport, Hartford, Litchfield, Milford, and Norwich. The petitions included compelling quotes from local bar association leaders that illustrated the impact the closures would have on their communities. Thanks to everyone who signed the petitions or forwarded them to friends and colleagues, we gathered approximately 1,140 signatures in a little over a month and delivered the petitions to the Joint Appropriations and Judiciary Committees. We are very grateful for the support and help of the local bar associations and the Connecticut Bar Association.

On February 9, SNELLA President Nancy Marcove and retired courthouse law librarian Jonathan Stock testified before the Appropriations Committee to oppose the proposed closures. On February 26, Jonathan again presented testimony on behalf of SNELLA before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of a bill that would have restored funding to the Judicial Branch (House Bill 5148). Camilla Tubbs, Chair of the AALL Government Relations Committee and Reference Librarian and Lecturer in Legal Research at Yale Law School’s Lillian Goldman Library, also presented testimony to the committee on behalf of AALL. Their statements  emphasized the importance of keeping these law libraries open so that attorneys, judges and members of the public can access the up-to-date legal materials they need.

In addition to providing adequate funding to keep the law libraries open, the new budget bill gives more authority to the Legislature over the process by which the Judicial Branch’s budget is adopted. Specifically, it provides the Legislature with an opportunity to see the Judicial Branch’s budget recommendations by requiring that the proposed budget be included in the Governor’s budget. It also gives the Legislature the ability to reject budget cuts made by the Executive Branch to the Judicial Branch’s budget after it is adopted.

For more information about our successful fight to save the Bridgeport, Hartford and Litchfield courthouse law libraries, please see our new Case Study.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Will you help AALL ensure access to electronic legal information in your state?

February 22, 2010

The Government Relations Office is looking for members of AALL and our chapters to volunteer to participate in an exciting initiative to promote equitable, no-fee, permanent public access to authentic online legal information in every state.

Over the last several months, AALL state working groups have begun to form around the country to respond to the growing trend of state officials to eliminate print official legal resources in favor of online-only, often in response to state budget woes. This trend is highlighted in the 2009-2010 updates to AALL’s 2007 State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources

Thanks to the support of many of you, the GRO is pleased to report that we already have more than 115 AALL and chapter members from 42 states and the District of Columbia who have signed up for their state’s working group, but we need still need more volunteers.

Can we count on your help? We invite you to:

  • Volunteer for your state’s working group, through which you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate on an effort led by Erika Wayne at Stanford University’s Robert Crown Law Library and Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org to develop a national inventory of all primary legal resources at every level of government.

  • Join the GRO and Government Relations Committee this summer in Denver for our half-day Legislative Advocacy Training, “Raising the Bar in Your State,” where we’ll address AALL’s most important state policy priorities.  

During our half-day Advocacy Training on Saturday, July 10, from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m, working group volunteers will come together with other AALL and chapter members to discuss the challenges and successes the state working groups face. Participants will also have time to brainstorm effective ways to prove the value to state officials of our public law libraries during these difficult economic times.

Readers of the Blawg know that ensuring access to electronic legal information is one of AALL’s top policy priorities, and we’re counting on you to help make this state initiative a success. To participate in your state’s working group and/or to attend the Advocacy Training, which is available at no cost to AALL and chapter members, please contact me by June 1.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Help Save Connecticut’s Courthouse Libraries

January 20, 2010

Over the last few months, AALL and the Southern New England Law Librarians Association (SNELLA) have been working closely together to oppose funding cuts and the announced closure of six of the fifteen courthouse libraries in Connecticut. We urgently need your help to save these law libraries.

On December 23, AALL and SNELLA sent joint letters to Connecticut’s Governor Rell and to the leadership of the Appropriations Committee strongly opposing the decision to close the law libraries. Judge Quinn, Chief Court Administrator, explained in testimony before the Appropriations Committee that the closures had become necessary because the Executive Branch cut $12.9 million from the budget for the Judicial Branch.

AALL and SNELLA are sponsoring online petitions to save the courthouse libraries in Bridgeport, Hartford, Litchfield, Milford and Norwich. The sixth library, at the Willimantic Courthouse, is unstaffed and its small collection will likely be moved to the local public university.

The closures of Connecticut’s courthouse libraries will prevent attorneys, judges and members of the public from accessing the up-to-date legal information they need. It will also place a heavy burden on pro se litigants, who may not be able to get to another courthouse library if the one closest to home is closed. We need your help to demonstrate that there is broad support for keeping these libraries open.

If you live in Connecticut, please sign each one of these important petitions. If you’re not a Connecticut resident, please pass this message along to your friends, family and colleagues who live in the state.

Thank you in advance for spreading the word and helping to save Connecticut’s courthouse libraries!

[Posted by Mary Alice Baish and Emily Feldman]

New State Bill Tracking Resource

June 2, 2009

A new page with resources to help you track legislation in your state was recently added to the AALL Government Relations Committee Web site.  The chart includes the dates of the state legislative sessions and links to free resources to help you track legislation in your state. If you know of a free bill tracking resource that isn’t on the chart, please send a note to the AALL Advocacy Listserv (subscribe here) or let me know and I will share it with the Government Relations Committee. Thanks!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

How to Use the Advocacy Toolkit to Influence Policy at the State Level

April 17, 2009

With Congress out on April recess this week, I think it’s the perfect time to delve into AALL’s new Advocacy Toolkit for the 111th Congress and share some ideas for how individuals and chapters can get more involved in influencing policy making at the state level.

If you’ve explored the Advocacy Toolkit already, you know that chapter 4 is dedicated to helping chapters form effective legislative committees. Section 4.3 explains how chapters can influence policy at both the federal and state levels by creating partnerships with the AALL Government Relations Committee (GRC) and Government Relations Office, monitoring legislation, and getting to know the local politics and players so that you can take action when it’s required. In this Blawg post, I’ll offer some easy tips to help chapters and individuals join our Advocacy Team by becoming effective advocates on the state level.

First, find out the dates of your legislative session. Make sure you know when it begins, how long it lasts, and any other unique information about your state legislature.

Second, make sure you know your representatives, and know them well! Find out their educational background, whether or not they have a J.D. (if so, they may already have an understanding of some of our key issues), and what they do when they’re not acting as your legislators (i.e., what is their other profession?). After you answer those basic questions, dive a little deeper. What issues are important to them? What committee assignments do they have?

Third, find out what issues are at the top of the legislature’s agenda. For many, given the current economic crisis, important programs may be cut. Read local newspapers for some ideas and find out if there are local blogs that track issues in your state’s legislature.

Fourth, explore your state legislature’s Web site (if you don’t already know the URL, you can find the link on the Web site of the National Conference of State Legislatures). If the Web site provides RSS feeds or email alerts, sign up for them so that you can stay in the loop.

While you’re there, try searching for the following keywords to find relevant legislation you may want to track:

  • County Law Libraries
  • State depository library program
  • Digital authentication
  • Preservation
  • Public access
  • Freedom of information
  • Privacy

Finally, if there is a bill you’re tracking, please send a summary of the issue to the AALL Advocacy Listserv so that listserv members can exchange information and share stories about what’s happening in their states. The Advocacy Listserv is open to AALL members and chapters.

In addition, please send the links to your state legislature and any free bill tracking service, as well as any tips on how you keep track of bills in your state, to the Listserv. GRC Chair Steve Mirsky is compiling a list of free online bill tracking services, and he’d love to hear from you.

I hope this gives you an idea of some of the ways that you can influence policy in your state.  I encourage you to explore the Advocacy Toolkit for more information about AALL’s advocacy work, ideas for action, bills we’re tracking at the federal level, and more. If you follow these easy steps, you’ll be an expert advocate in no time!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

California’s Law Library for San Bernardino County Wins 2008 Federal Depository Library of the Year Award

October 29, 2008

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has named California’s Law Library for San Bernardino County as the 2008 Federal Depository Library of the Year! In presenting the award at the Depository Library Conference last week, Public Printer Robert Tapella remarked, “The Law Library for San Bernardino County has done an outstanding job of providing the public access to the documents of our democracy.” Proudly accepting the award was the Honorable Keith D. Davis, President of the library’s Board of Trustees. Also on hand was reference librarian George Carter.

The award recognizes the commitment of Law Library Director Larry Meyer and his staff to public access and the depository library program. In response to being named the 2008 Federal Depository Library of the Year, Larry said,

We are deeply honored and privileged to receive the award. We appreciate its significance to the depository community and the recognition the award conveys specifically to the Law Library for San Bernardino County as well as the recognition it places upon all Law Libraries that participate in the FDLP as selective depositories or through shared housing arrangements. In particular this award emphasizes the importance of publicly accessible county law libraries to the FDLP.

A past member of our Government Relations Committee, Larry spoke at this year’s Advocacy Training in Portland about the challenges his library faces. To confront some of those challenges, the Law Library has expanded the services it offers to patrons by extending its hours of operation, developing a new and improved user-friendly website and offering the AskNow Law Librarian online reference service.

Congratulations to Larry and his team at the Law Library for San Bernardino County!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

“State of the States” Report Now Available

February 27, 2008’s annual report on state trends and policy, State of the States 2008,” is now available. The report covers many different issue areas (like Politics, Education, and the Supreme Court) and a section on “Hot Topics,” including the subprime mortgage crisis, global warming, and Real ID. The report also includes a calendar of 2008 State Meetings. offers RSS feeds of its issue areas and Daily and Weekly News Alerts that cover state politics and policy links to publications across the country.

Thanks to the Law Librarian Blog for the tip.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Maryland Law Library Adds to Civil Rights Collection

February 25, 2008

The Thurgood Marshall Law Library at the University of Maryland School of Law added twenty new documents to their digital collection of publications from the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). The Library’s collection of Historical Publications of the USCCR is a partnership of the United States Government Printing Office, The United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Thurgood Marshall Law Library.

Some of the latest additions include:

-Civil Rights and the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, v. II: A comparison with model cities. Michigan Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

-The Economic Progress of Black Men in America. United States Commission on Civil Rights. Clearinghouse Publication 91. October 1986.

-Equal Opportunity in Farm Programs: An appraisal of services rendered by agencies of the United States Department of Agriculture. A report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. 1965.

-Making the Constitution Work for All Americans. A report of the proceedings of the Regional Civil Rights Conference sponsored by the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights in Atlanta, Georgia. April 16-18, 1975.

-Political Participation: A study of the participation by Negroes in the electoral and political process in 10 Southern States since the passage of the Voting Act of 1965. United States Commission on Civil Rights. May 1968

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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