A recent issue of AALL Spectrum focuses on recruiting and educating the next generation of law librarians. It recognizes that fewer people are entering the profession and applications for job postings are dwindling. We have similar concerns in Wisconsin.
LLAW has a longstanding relationship with the two library schools in the state. This year, Vice President Liz Manriquez and I met with Library School Liaisons Laura La Rose and Laura Olsen, Membership Chair Carol Schmitt, and Program Co-Chair Wendy Smith to discuss attracting students to law librarianship and increasing membership in LLAW. We identified several common concerns. Overall, there is a lack of active interest from the library schools. Few, if any classes focus on law librarianship, legal bibliography, or even government documents. Many classes are online with some students living in other states. There are fewer internship opportunities despite it being a great way to expose students to the uniqueness of law librarianship. A contributing factor is the general misunderstanding that a J.D. is required.
This year, both Laura Olsen and Laura La Rose have strengthened communication with the library schools and their students. They, along with other LLAW members, have participated in panel discussions, represented the profession at career fairs, and shared invitations to LLAW programs. Our liaison discussion group brainstormed other possibilities for the future, such as hosting events with the library school(s) or other professional organizations, or contributing promotional articles to InsideTrack or Wisconsin Lawyer. We recognize that LLAW needs to continue working towards reaching the next-generation law library professional and potential new LLAW members.
This membership year we continued with in-person and virtual program events. We hosted past Presidents Carol Bannen and Bonnie Shucha to reflect on the past 40 years of LLAW. Each noted that LLAW has grown into a strong group of “librarians helping librarians” which promotes the profession. At the same time, we recognize that our numbers are declining. Attendees considered possible ways to increase membership in LLAW such as offering free memberships to students and hosting tours of government, law firm, and academic libraries.
Our next two programs focused on access to justice and the importance of law librarians. The first was a panel discussion, Bridging the Access to Justice Gap: Connecting Public and Law Librarians. LLAW members Carol Hassler and Liz Manriquez presented along with Mary Ferwerda (Milwaukee Justice Center) and Jeff Brown (Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission; WisTAF). Thank you to Reinhart for hosting this event at their Madison and Milwaukee locations. Also, thank you to Lexis for sponsoring refreshments. We returned to a virtual format in February with an informative discussion on training advocates for tribal court with Hallie Bongar White, Founder and Dean of the National Tribal College and Executive Director of the Southwest Center for Law and Policy, and Brenna Hanley, Senior Tribal Prosecutor with the Navajo Nation Prosecutor’s Office.
We concluded the LLAW program year by celebrating our members and the law library profession at the Delafield Brewhaus. Thank you to Thomson Reuters for sponsoring this celebration. Everyone enjoyed a highly competitive game of Law Librarian Pictionary. Thank you to Carol Schmitt for the great idea and to Jim Mumm for organizing the game. I think our members would like a rematch! Thank you to Co-Chairs Wendy Smith and Liz Manriquez, and to the program committee’s work in providing informative programming throughout the year.
One of AALL’s goals is to identify, engage, and guide future legal information professionals. The Pipeline to the Profession Special Committee (P2P) has been gathering data and considering possible factors contributing to the decreasing numbers entering the law librarian profession. The theme of this year’s annual conference is Map Our Future. We will be hearing more from P2P and about the future of the profession at the annual conference. Safe travels to those of you attending the conference in Boston. Please bring back ideas to recruit the next generation of Wisconsin law librarians and LLAW members.
The LLAW Executive Board updated officer and committee procedures this year, many of which were last updated in 2012. This work continued the updates made under Maureen Burn’s presidency while LLAW was transitioning to the Briefs Blog format for information sharing. Thank you to each of the officers and committee chairs who read and updated their procedures. I compiled and organized these updates, and worked towards unifying similar procedures. Thank you to Bev Butula for being a second set of eyes and assisting me in making final edits. The revised Committee Procedures and Officer Procedures are currently available on LLAW’s Bylaws & Procedures page. (The menu under About Us will be revised in a future website update.)
I want to extend my appreciation and thanks to each of the LLAW officers, committee chairs, and library school liaisons. Committee Annual Reports and the final Treasurer’s Report of the year are available on the LLAW website.
2023 LLAW Officers and Committee Chairs:
- Liz Manriquez, Vice President/Program Co-Chair
- Emily Gellings, Secretary
- Angela Henes, Treasurer
- Maureen Burns, Past President/Nominating
- Bev Butula, Archives
- Jess Moore, Government Relations
- Diane Duffey, Grants
- Carol Schmitt, Membership
- Michelle Wollman, Newsletter
- Sarah Kober, Placement
- Wendy Smith, Program Co-Chair
- Jenny Zook, Public Relations
- Emma Babler, Website
2023 Library School Liaisons
- Laura Olsen, UW- Madison iSchool
- Laura La Rose, UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies
It was my honor to serve LLAW as President. I appreciate the opportunity to work more closely with law librarians outside of my workplace. As Nominating Chair this upcoming year, I will take this first opportunity to ask you to consider running for office or volunteering to serve on one of LLAW’s committees. Take this chance to make connections and collaborate with your fellow law librarians.
Best wishes to incoming President Liz Manriquez, incoming and continuing officers, committee chairs, and library school liaisons. Here is to a successful 2023-24 LLAW Year!
Wisconsin State Law Library