Voices Across the Spectrum, Tough Conversations About Race: Let the Book Start the Discussion

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 25, Number 3 (January/February 2021), pgs. 39-41.

By Cynthia Bassett, Collection Management and Electronic Services Librarian at University of Missouri School of Law and Kara Phillips, Law Library Director at Seattle University School of Law Library

Below are excerpts from the article, including a section highlighting how private law librarians have participated in diversity initiatives.

Talking about racism is tough. Not talking about it is not an option when people are dying. Across our country, people are having difficult conversations about the racism they see in their communities and the effects that systemic racism—racism that is built into the very structures of our society—have on people of color.

The University of Missouri School of Law has been having intentional conversations about the many ways that people in our country are treated as “other” for many years, but the need to talk about it in a new way surfaced after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, in the fall of 2014. Some of the University of Missouri Law School students called Ferguson home, and his death hit them hard. Others in the school simply could not see why people were protesting and blocking highways, which seemed to be counterproductive to their cause. Tensions rose and the school needed to find a way to talk about and understand how different members of our society experience the world.

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Voices Across the Spectrum: Combating Systemic Racism

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 25, Number 2 (November/ December 2020), pgs. 29-31.

By Andre Davison, Research Technology Manager at Blank Rome LLP

Compassion, empathy, and reaching out to others are key to addressing discriminatory implicit bias.

The tragic incident this summer with George Floyd in Minneapolis brought back memories of my experience with law enforcement 26 years ago that could have dramatically changed my life and the trajectory of my career. My two uncles, my best friend, and I were headed to the beach for the day after my younger uncle’s high school prom. As we made our way through the beach entrance, we were pulled over by the Galveston beach patrol for suspicion of an open container violation.

Unbeknownst to me, my best friend, and my younger uncle, my older uncle had a joint in his possession and was reaching to hide it as the officers approached the car. The officers immediately drew their weapons, and I immediately feared we were going to get shot. Only 16 years old, I was terrified as we were ordered out of the car and placed in handcuffs. Fortunately, my younger uncle was able to diffuse the situation through a conversation with the officers. We were able to leave the beach without any repercussions.

I learned two valuable lessons that day: always keep your hands where police officers can see them and always address police officers with respect.

As I reflect, I realize how fortunate we were to leave those circumstances alive. As our nation saw with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, and others, so many African American men and women don’t live to survive similar encounters with law enforcement.

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The Value of Law Librarians Blogging on their Firm’s Blog

Cheryl Niemeier is Director of Library Services at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP  

Apparently, I am blazing a new trail as seemingly the first and only law librarian who is officially blogging on their firm’s blog page! “That’s huge!” said Greg Lambert of 3 Geeks and a Law Blog when he congratulated me on this new responsibility. The news also prompted Steve Lastres to ask me to write this guest blogger post describing the value proposition of law librarians blogging.  Continue reading

Promoting the Library and Research Services’ Value at Bryan Cave LLP

By Joan Thomas, Manager of Library and Research Services at Bryan Cave LLP in Kansas City, MO.

Today we, On Firmer Ground and Future Ready 365 are posting the same piece to demonstrate the collaboration we both highly value. Both blogs strive to share proactive solutions and innovative ideas to illustrate how to keep information professionals vital, ready for the future and on firmer ground. – Ed.

Newsletters are an effective tool to communicate information to users while promoting the library’s value. How do you make a newsletter Future Ready? At Bryan Cave LLP, the library staff struggled to consistently produce office specific newsletters. It became increasingly more difficult to find the time and enthusiasm to create content for subsequent issues. We needed a streamlined collaboration that evenly distributed the work between several offices. We needed to connect with attorneys and staff at offices with no library staff presence. We also wanted to drive users to the library’s page on eCave2, the firm’s Intranet. Our challenge was to determine how we could join forces to collaborate on a firmwide e-newsletter to highlight new subscriptions and interesting legal news.

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