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Volume 8, Number 5
State Attorneys General Librarians Form New Organization
Kevin Coakley-Welch, M.L.I.S., Law Librarian, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
It all began with a three-page article in the 2012 September/October issue of AALL Spectrum: “State Attorneys General and Their Law Librarians.” Two librarians—Mark Mackler and Jonathan Chagat—working in the California Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office respectively, decided that the legal community needed a greater awareness of and appreciation for the multi-faceted research work done by those librarians who serve the various state attorneys general.
When the article came to the attention of Jim Tierney, director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School and former Maine attorney general, his reaction was, “Whoa! This sounds cool! I’ve got to find out more about these librarians!”
Genesis of a New Group
Bi-weekly conference calls, coordinated by Tierney, began in January 2013 among an advisory board of law librarians self-christened the “Gang of Six.” In addition to California and Ohio, law librarians from Massachusetts (Kevin Coakley-Welch), Florida (Betsy Stupski), Arizona (Joan Dalton), and Washington State (Sue Box) began discussing how shared knowledge and experiences among attorneys general librarians could be pooled, shared, and ultimately leveraged for the benefit of their parent agencies. Enthusiasm for this new endeavor was infectious. The “Gang of Six” quickly took advantage of these new connections, sharing links, document scans, and brainstorming results to their new colleagues.
The new group soon adopted the name “Attorneys General Librarians Initiative” or AGLI. Tierney and his assistant Frances Laviscount, organized a three-day conference at Columbia Law School. Calls and emails went out to AG librarians inviting them to participate. The core group drafted a mission statement and goals document, and recruited conference speakers. On the evening of Aug. 7, 2013, 22 law librarians met in New York City to launch a new association.
The AGLI Conference
Between presentations on topics ranging from technology to healthcare regulation, the attendees focused on networking and on agreeing how best to structure AGLI. Much like our nation’s initial constitutional convention, there was plenty of spirited discussion regarding how best to get the fledging enterprise off the ground. At the conclusion of the conference, a “Statement of Mission and Purpose” was unanimously adopted by the attendees who specified the name of the organization, its overall vision, and its membership criteria. The assembled librarians unanimously agreed that for its first year of existence, AGLI would be co-chaired by Kevin Coakley-Welch (Mass.) and Alice Davidson (Ind.). As AGLI members departed New York City on Aug. 9, 2013 their new organization had taken its first steps, but lots of work remained ahead.
AGLI’S Next Big Hurdles
Communication was clearly a central challenge for the group going forward. The original membership has increased to 45 people. Various options, including a listserv, have been proposed and discussed. AGLI currently relies on an email distribution list.
Another major goal that AGLI identified was the creation and management of an electronic document management system (DMS). Throughout autumn 2013 and winter 2014, a small technology task force within AGLI worked with Lisa Jeter, NAAG director of Web and New Media, to establish such a resource. Guided by Lisa’s expertise with ModX and her commitment to helping AGLI, we were able to roll out our DMS in April. As far as I know, we librarians are the first Working Group within NAAG to have implemented a DMS with ModX.
Underlying AGLI’s core raison d’etre is the desire on the part of each of its member librarians to more fully and more efficiently serve the research and information needs of the attorneys and staff in the AG offices. AGLI looks to raise a collective awareness for our role and our value. For example, we anticipate being able to partner with NAGTRI, NAAG’s training and research institute, on some of its courses in which research and the need for “state-of-the-art” information awareness is critical. AGLI stands poised to be a great asset for the state and territorial attorneys general community.
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