As we reach the end of summer, we wanted to share some highlights of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting that took place this year in Washington, DC. Over the next week or so, we will be posting recaps from this always productive and inspirational conference. As our fellow law librarians and information professionals prepare for fall, we’re sure they will be applying the insights and ideas they took away from this year’s annual meeting to move their libraries and research centers forward.
By Sabrina A. Davis, Research Librarian, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP
The Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals Special Interest Section of AALL offers grants so members can attend the AALL annual meeting, as well as conferences hosted by other associations. Sabrina received a AALL Conference Registration and Travel Grant, and below is her conference report.
This was my first AALL Conference since 2016 and my first time going as a firm librarian – the previous three times, I was in academia. I would like to thank the PLLIP-SIS Grants Committee for giving me this opportunity to learn, network, and have a little bit of fun in D.C.
Learning: Using Web Archives in Legal Research
By far, the most valuable program I attended was “I Know It Used to Be There: Using Web Archives in Legal Research.” The session focused on three products: Wayback Machine (from Internet Archive), the Library of Congress Web Archives, and perma.cc (from Harvard University). I’ve used the Wayback Machine multiple times, but this session highlighted useful features, such as a new checkbox to “Save Outlinks” (i.e., pages internally linked on URL); browser extensions that intercept 404 errors and redirect, and iOS and Android apps. Also highlighted were other Internet Archive resources such as the TV News Archive with closed captioning and OCR, and the not yet publicly available Voice of America (VOA) radio recordings.
The Library of Congress Web Archives content focuses on Library of Congress collections, such as the US Congressional Web Archive (collected monthly). Other content includes Blawgs (monthly, 228 followed); Federal Courts; International Tribunals; Foreign Law; State Government websites (targeted for state-published documents), and Indigenous Law (being released in 2020). Browsing and faceted searching of records is available at the collection level, but full-text searching is not available, and even though they use the Wayback Machine for web crawling, the Library of Congress Web Archives are not part of Wayback Machine results.
The third resource covered was perma.cc, created by Harvard’s Library Innovation Lab to address legal link rot. Per their website, perma.cc “helps scholars, journals, courts, and others create permanent records of the web sources they cite.” Based on user-driven captures (not web crawlers), perma.cc allows users to copy and paste a URL to perma.cc to create a permalink. Potential law firm uses include citation in briefs, internal born-digital documents, and blawgs. One cool feature of perma.cc is it includes hi-fi captures and playbacks (Webrecorder), as well as captures of carousels of images.
One of the best things about the AALL Annual Meeting is reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. There were plenty of opportunities for networking throughout the conference, even for those (like me) who didn’t have the stamina to make it to the many evening receptions. The Opening Reception Saturday evening and the Exhibit Hall breaks offered time for casual conversations and introductions to new people, while the PLLIP-SIS Annual Business Meeting & Lunch provided a more formal time to conduct section business. Aside from being a typical business meeting though, we got to meet Justice, our new gender-neutral dinosaur mascot. Justice will be passed from the outgoing to the incoming PLLIP-SIS chair annually, to remind us to not get stuck in the past and to learn lessons for the future.
I also attended the PEGA-SIS (Professional Engagement, Growth & Advancement-Special Interest Section) Beer and Edits Scholarly Networking event and the introductory meeting for the proposed Critical Legal Research Caucus, to try to make additional contacts with similar interests in writing and empirical research.
Fun and Swag!
The best swag award goes to Thomson Reuters for their awesome, sturdy laptop backpack and the fun “Trust me, I’m a Librarian” t-shirt. The therapy dogs that made appearances on Saturday and Sunday were the highlight of the exhibit hall for me though.