By Shivani Naicker, J.D., MLS Candidate May 2019
Attending the American Association of Law Librarians 2018 Annual Meeting and Conference in Baltimore due to the generosity of SWALL was an incredibly eye-opening experience. Between seeing the hilarious and irreverent John Waters speak on the importance of law librarians to learning about the future of Artificial Intelligence within the library; I left not only entertained but also incredibly informed. I had the opportunity to attend the government documents meeting and watched as the former executive board handed over their positions (and gavel) over to the new executive board. This was particularly interesting because I was taking a government documents course over the summer and speaking to people who actually worked at the Government Printing Office whose documents I relied on for my work was a little surreal. I also attended the Black Caucus dinner where I met library professionals who are doing incredible work throughout the country. I even had the chance to talk to my former law librarian and tell her how much the library meant to me when I was in law school. Additionally, it was fascinating to talk to the vendors and learn about the newest technology available for students and librarians. Knowing that platforms are changing so quickly is a little disconcerting but learning about the changes before they are implemented is helpful. I was given the best advice by my conference mentor Alyson Drake who told me not to try to do too much and allow myself time to process the information. This was incredibly sound advice because attending the conference is truly a marathon of sorts.
One of most important things that I learned throughout the conference was that law librarians are exceedingly kind and always willing to help others even if it is a new and somewhat overwhelmed graduate student navigating their way through the conference. The scope for law librarians is wide and varied; during the social events, I had the ability to speak with law librarians of every facet, including firm librarians, county law librarians, academic librarians and even a librarian for a Native American tribe. At the DALL/HALL/SWALL/ UNT reception, I had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful and local librarians who I am hopeful will become mentors and friends. Going to the infamous Fastcase suite was a little overwhelming but a lot of fun. Seeing librarians let loose and have hilarious yet educational conversations was something that I had not experienced firsthand. Experiencing a tour of the Peabody library was truly intriguing. It is such a beautiful library steeped in history. Finally, it goes without saying but Baltimore was a beautiful and gracious city for hosting us for the week.
Before the conference, thanks to Dr. Yvonne Chandler, I managed to visit the Library of Congress, the executive office libraries and the Supreme Court law library. As a lawyer and future librarian, these places are all incredibly meaningful. To walk the hallowed halls where presidents and Supreme Court justices have been was an experience I will carry with me forever.I am thankful for the opportunity to attend the conference because not only did I learn about trends in the field, I was afforded the opportunity to meet my future cohorts and establish relationships that I know I will continue to further into the future. Thank you to the SWALL committee for choosing me and allowing the opportunity to attend the conference. I look forward to seeing you all in Arkansas