President’s Letter

May 9, 2018

Welcome Letter from the SWALL President, Jeff B. Woodmansee (UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law)

swall mt rushmoore
SWALL’s “Mount Rushmore” of Past, Current, and Future Presidents: Mike Martinez, Joan Stringfellow, Jeff Woodmansee, and Stacy Fowler

Hello again, everyone. Greetings from Little Rock! Hopefully we have all settled back in after a wonderful annual meeting put together last month in Houston and can exhale a bit as we finish up spring tasks and gear up for our summer schedules and new projects. I write this note to our valued members today as your newly-minted SWALL President to begin setting the stage for what’s sure to be a very engaging and productive year for our chapter as we seek your input in how we can best adapt for the future.

The agenda I’ve envisioned for SWALL between now and April 2019, and the goals collectively outlined out by my colleagues on our deeply committed and talented Executive Board team are ambitious but also straightforward, with an overall theme of positive reform that will lead to more engagement between our leadership and committees, streamlines duplicitous projects, provides ongoing mentorship to newer members, and better utilizes technology and available tools in all chapter planning and promotion. As those of you that were able to the attend last month’s Business Meeting and subsequent open forum discussions will attest, there are some new realities and challenges we should address as an organization regarding future conference planning, including decreasing attendance, soliciting a broader range of programming, and reestablishing increased volunteerism and smoother transitions among committees and the missions they set out to complete year-to-year.

While some changes lie ahead, the overall openness and continued commitment shown from our members in response to these discussions has been very encouraging. I want to thank Stacy Fowler, Cassie DuBay, Jamie Baker, and Joan Stringfellow for the many planning talks and ideas shared over the past month, including our recently holding the first of what will be monthly video conference calls last week to facilitate our goals of increased dialogue and awareness among our Board, committee leaders, and throughout our overall membership. Folks, it’s truly an honor to be working alongside such a terrific group of SWALLstars in serving an organization that has afforded me with so many professional opportunities and meaningful personal relationships. Thanks again for doing what you do!

Lastly, I want to follow-up with more details about next year’s annual meeting to be held here in the vibrant downtown settings of Little Rock, Arkansas:


The theme for next year’s event is SWALL 2019: Rockin’ Roles for Legal Info Pros. The conference will be held Sun., April 14 thru Tues., April 16, 2019 at the Little Rock Marriott (3 Statehouse Plaza), located on the banks of the Arkansas River, directly next to the Old Statehouse Museum and Statehouse Convention Center as part of the lively River Market district. Programming related to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center & Library is being planned for the final day of the meeting, which is located just down the road from the conference hotel. The UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law and Pulaski County Law Library are formal hosts of this meeting, with some activities to take place at the law library located within a mile or so of the rest of our events. Rest assured that  our entire Local Arrangements Team, co-chaired by my Bowen colleagues Jessie Burchfield and Melissa Serfass, are already busy making preliminary plans, reaching out to the local legal community, and are genuinely excited to have a chance to host and show you all just how great Bowen and Little Rock really are.

For now, friends, I’ll wrap up this welcome message and the information-overload in trying to preview all the exciting things in store for SWALL over the next year. Please, whether now or in the future, do not hesitate to reach out to me directly or pose a question or concern to the entire group via the chapter email list, or you can interact with SWALL on LinkedIn No matter the format, we seek to be transparent, open to member input, and willing to engage with you in making our chapter be best.



SWALL 2018 Annual Meeting in Houston Recaps

SWALL 2018 Annual Meeting Member Recap from Alyson Drake

SWALL 2018 in Houston was an incredible networking and learning experience.  My conference kicked off with giving two presentations on Thursday.  First, with Stewart Caton, Cassie Rae DuBay, and Jamie Baker, I presented on how to meet the experiential simulation course requirements laid out by the ABA Standards.  We gave a number of practical examples of how to meet certain requirements, including how to balance the “experiential in nature” and “classroom instructional component” standards, and how to incorporate multiple opportunities for performance, opportunities for self-evaluation, and feedback from a faculty member. Next up was my ignite talk—a quick (and somewhat terrifying, given the time restrictions) intro on why the pros of research conferences with students outweigh the cons.  But my favorite part of the ignite talks were hearing Barbara Bintliff and Jeff Woodmansee discuss their experiences teaching abroad.

My must-see program of the day, for Friday, was the Deep Dive into Video Outreach and Editing, where Jennifer Laws gave ideas for how to use video for outreach and Joe Lawson gave a primer on using video editing software.


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On Saturday morning, I ended my conference experience by going to Sherri Thomas’ “Putting the ‘Person’ Back into ‘Personnel’: Emotional Intelligence in Law Libraries.” Sherri gave some great reminders about all the different types of stress in libraries. Especially interesting were her lists of impacts on people—less people, more work, less time, perceived status, and many more—and on personnel—institutional guidelines, internal structures, politics, and more, and the managerial and employee burdens—where many of the burdens actually overlap. One of her most memorial points was that in our jobs, we give our patrons the benefit of the doubt on a daily basis, but that we often forget to do so with our colleagues. She also gave great tips on how to practice better emotional intelligence.


Adapting Steenken & Brooks’ Sources of American Law Recap

Recap by Tracy Eaton

“Adapting Steenken & Brooks’ Sources of American Law” was a presentation at this year’s conference of particular interest to academic law librarians.  The presenters, Edward Hart, Bailey Eagin and Stewart Caton, are law librarians and professors at UNT Dallas College of Law.    They discussed their use of Sources of American Law, a legal research text authored by Beau Steeken and Tina Brooks, both librarians with the University of Kentucky College of Law.


The speakers introduced this legal research text to participants and detailed how they have adapted it for use in their 1L legal research classes.  They first gave a brief history of how the introductory legal research class had evolved and why they looked for and selected this text to use for their current introductory legal research class.   First and foremost, the price is unbeatable – free viewing and downloads for ipad, Nook, Kindle, Word or pdf through CALI.  For those who love tangible books and don’t want to pay to print out a Word or pdf document, a soft cover bound version can be purchased for $4.22 plus shipping and handling.  This alone makes it a winner for law students.  Additionally, the text seems to be more accessible for first year law students, many of whom are encountering the vocabulary, structure, and sources of the legal system for the first time.  It’s broad-brush approach to the basics makes it particularly suitable for introductory legal research.  These librarians do not recommend it for advanced legal research, in part because it is so basic and also because it does not cover legislative history or international law research.   Finally, one of the best reasons to use this book is the creative commons licensing, which allows instructors to share material in any medium or format and adapt the material to fit a particular purpose without copyright concerns.

For UNT Dallas College of Law, the librarians have “remixed” the text for use in introductory legal research in several ways.  First, they have supplemented topics that need more extensive coverage (i.e. secondary sources, specifically periodicals/newsletters and Texas law) with extra reading excerpts and Quimbee® videos.  Next, they have made some changes to the questions assigned as homework – introductory and intermediate questions are usually worked together in class, and the advanced questions are assigned as homework.  Also, where helpful, they change the wording, the jurisdiction, and/or add additional instructions to target specific skills or provide extra guidance.  Finally, they use the CALI lessons to give additional practice, as well as internally crafted lessons to hone state-specific research skills.

Overall, these librarians are pleased with the Steeken & Brooks text, as are the students. There was definite enthusiasm expressed for using this budget and copyright friendly legal research text for instruction by participants, and also even some thought of creating a Texas supplement for it!  For anyone looking for a basic, and free, legal research text, this one seems worth a look.


Big and Little: Success Strategies for Every Government Librarian Recap

Recap by Stewart Caton

Speakers: Karen Dibble, Associate Director, Dallas County Law Library & Carla Cates, Law Librarian, Ellis County Law Library

Law librarians are often labeled as either academic, firm, or government. Those working within a law library know that each category of library can be broken down further by any number of characteristics, including size. Presenters Karen Dibble and Carla Cates of the Dallas and Ellis County Law Libraries, respectively, embraced this idea in their presentation focusing on government law libraries of every size. While Carla Cates directs a smaller county law library (Ellis), Karen Dibble directs a large county law library (Dallas). The presenters covered several major topics: Reference, Security, Budget, and Collection Development-Other Resources.

The presentation was well-organized. Every attendee was provided a paper that contained a timed agenda for the presentation and room for notes, e.g. 11:35-11:45 – Patron Reference. This was helpful for the participants to understand the direction of the presentation, and I believe it also helped the presenters stay on time.

After introductions, Karen led off the discussion by observing that differences exist between every government law library. In fact, it was noted that sometimes your local public library may have more in common with your law library than another similarly-situated government law library, e.g. overlapping stakeholders and patrons.

The presenters next focused on how they approach patron reference. The differences between the two libraries starts as soon as one enters the door, literally – in Ellis the patrons are instructed to sign-in, while Dallas uses a door counter to track their patron count. The door counter enables Dallas to adjust staffing needs with the support of data. While the presentation discussed differences, one similarity highlighted that law librarians interacting with the public can relate to is the difficulty in starting a reference interview. Karen noted that a key question to ask a pro se patron is: “What do you want to have happen?” Having previously worked in a county law library, I will add that it took me a few months to work up the confidence to ask this question, but it is worth it. It can greatly reduce the number of narrative twists and turns from a patron.

The discussion next turned to security where the differences between the two libraries was more apparent. Carla noted that it is important to be genuine and encouraging with patrons as they visit in order to inspire confidence and build rapport. While Karen said that if she remembers a patron, it is usually a bad sign. Karen focused on how past security lessons helped her shape the new library. For example, she built a wide reference desk so patrons could not reach over and invade a librarian’s space. Karen, in her characteristically humorous style, provided an anecdote about approaching a suspiciously garbed male library patron in a trench coat, and who-knows-what underneath. She warned him that his trench coat had better stay on.

The presenters last turned to budget concerns and their collections. Ellis County has a smaller budget, but they are able to supply the standard resources that one would expect to find such as Dorsaneo, Pattern Jury Charges, Texas Jurisprudence, and Westlaw access. Further, Carla mentioned that Ellis County generates additional revenue by renting out conference room space for depositions. Karen is trying to figure out how to reclassify some of her librarians because it is difficult to retain her reference librarians once they gain experience due to the low salary. A final observation that they both made is that for both of their libraries it has been helpful for them to build relationships with other county officers. For example, spending some time to get to know the judicial clerks can help one better understand the information they provide patrons.

Those interested in government law libraries, especially county law libraries, would have benefitted from this presentation. It was well-organized, serious but fun, and it covered issues that all government law libraries struggle through, big and small.


Developing Cultural Intelligence Recap

Recap by Christopher Galeczka

What is culture? How do cultures differ and why do those differences matter? What is cultural intelligence? How can one gain it and how can one apply it? All these questions and more were addressed by Dr. Michele Villagran, a professor at the University of North Texas and certified consultant on cultural issues, in her deep dive, which featured an introductory activity, a video followed by discussion, as well as a variety of visuals and handouts addressing these issues.

The session began with Play-Doh and some interesting directions. 3-person teams composed of attendees were given several jars of Play-Doh of differing colors, and instructions to create a representation of ‘culture’ within 5 minutes.

The catch? One team was forbidden from making eye contact; the other team was not permitted to communicate verbally.

The remaining attendees observed as the teams laughed, did their best to work together, and expressed a fair bit of frustration as they sculpted their creations and Dr. V counted down the time. (Their results can be seen below.)


The takeaway? Cultural differences that are exhibited by various groups in the world, which include a lack of verbal communication or avoidance of eye contact, among others, can have a real impact on working together in organizations.

As a prompt to identify and discuss bias, attendees viewed a video of a European beer commercial: several pairs of moviegoers, of various gender combinations, ages, and ethnicities, enter a theater only to find it full of burly, tattooed white men; and with only two seats available in the midst of them. Several pairs express their discomfort and leave, the final pair decide to take their seats, and are rewarded by the other movie patrons with beers and applause. The video prompted a discussion of the way bias was expressed in the video, and how attendees themselves reacted to it.

Dr. Villagran shared with attendees some of the myriad different cultural groups and factors which could define cultural groups. In addition to race and ethnicity, different cultures can correspond to different generations, socioeconomic strata, organizations, and different parts or units within organizations. Different cultures may exhibit different service needs as well as different abilities, preferences, and strategies, when it comes to means of communication, handling conflict, and working together.

In terms of regional distribution, Dr. Villagran also provided a handout describing how different areas of the world vary in terms of seven cultural values: Collectivism/Individualism, Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Competitiveness, Time, Context, and Doing.

Cultural intelligence is “the capability to function effectively across various cultural contexts.” It is a form of intelligence. The development of Cultural Intelligence can be illustrated by a four-part cyclical model, wherein Drive feeds into Knowledge, which feeds into Strategy, son on into Action and back to Drive.

Librarians often rate themselves as having low Drive, which Dr. Villagran generously attributes to modesty on the part of librarians and a desire to learn strategies to increase their cultural intelligence. Drive itself can be broken down into further components, and can be increased by, among other things, overcoming biases.

Knowledge can be gained by learning about other cultures and developing an awareness that  many assumptions embodied in own culture are arbitrary, and that that those of other cultures may be almost completely opposite in nature yet equally valid. Examples provided in a video include the fact that city blocks are named or numbered in Japan and streets are unnamed and designated as ‘negative space’, whereas in the West streets are named, and blocks are considered negative space. Dimensions of Knowledge include: Systems, Symbols, Values, Socio-Linguistics, and Leadership.

Knowledge failures can result in serious communication mishaps, as exemplified by an infamous Toyota advertisement that was seen as offensive on multiple levels in China.

Strategy involves planning, applying Knowledge to determine what needs to be done to have a positive cross-cultural encounter. Strategy may include writing a first draft of an email, but then thinking how it may come across to the various recipient(s) and modifying as appropriate, before undertaking Action.

Our session concluded with a challenge to attendees to think about what they might do to increase their own cultural intelligence and apply it for more positive and productive cross-cultural communication.



SWALL Committee Reports

Legal Information Services to the Public (LISP) Committee

The Legal Information Services to the Public (LISP) Committee reports the following for 2017-2018 :

  • The LISP Committee presented a half-day pre-conference at the Harris County Law Library on Thursday, April 5th, prior to the SWALL Annual Meeting. The title of the pre-conference was Diversify Your Toolkit: Legal Research for Everyone. Presenters were Katy Badeaux (University of Houston), Deborah Hamilton (Pikes Peak Library District), and Heather Holmes (Harris County Law Library).
  • Along with the Government Law Libraries Committee, the LISP Committee organized an opening night reception on Thursday, April 5th for the SWALL Annual Meeting. The reception was held at Harris County Law Library and generously sponsored by Thomson Reuters.
  • The LISP Committee and the HALL Community Service Committee coordinated a book drive to collect new and gently used books at the SWALL Annual Meeting for the Inside Books Project, an Austin-based nonprofit organization that distributes reading material to incarcerated individuals throughout Texas.


Archives Committee

SWALL Archives Committee Report, 2017 – 2018

The SWALL Archive is missing the executive Board meeting minutes. We have all the business meeting minutes, but not the executive board. Also, if you have served on a committee or the board please send all SWALL material you may have in your home or office to the Archives (c/o Heather Kushnerick, South Texas College of Law, 1303 San Jacinto St, Houston, TX 77002). If you have ever chaired a committee, please send me a copy of the annual report you wrote.  Emailing them to me at is fine.

In preparing for this year’s anniversary meeting I went through the entire archive and made a finding aid for it. I will get this to Emily so it can be put on the SWALL website.

Photographs – please send me any you take. In preparing the display for Thursday’s reception I found many great photos from years past in social settings. It would be nice if there were more photos of presentations and speakers.


Government Law Libraries Committee

SWALL Government Law Libraries Committee Report 2017/2018

This year the GLL committee completed work on a few items.  First, we began the term with updating our committee charges.  Next, we received a request from Barbara Bintliff to assist with the Texas push to pass UELMA next legislative season.  We created a survey for court employees as to how they accessed Texas laws.  The survey was distributed and responses were tallied.  Finally, we partnered with the LISP committee to host a reception at the Harris County Law Library during the SWALL annual meeting in Houston.


Grants Committee

The SWALL Grants Committee has awarded three grants for this year’s SWALL/HALL Joint Meeting

This year we returned to the named grants that we awarded years ago to honor past SWALL members for their contributions to SWALL.

Kate Mara Award (The Kate Mara Grant Award is awarded to a person attending his or her first SWALL meeting):

Amy Small (Chief Fiscal Officer, Texas State Law Library)

Marian Boner Award (is awarded to an active SWALL member to attend the current SWALL meeting)

Alyson Drake (Assistant Director for Public Services, Texas Tech University Law Library)

Coco-Miller Grant Award (is a general travel grant to be awarded to members of SWALL attending the annual SWALL meeting).

Katherine Hoffman (Reference & Metadata Librarian, Texas State Law Library)

SWALL is entitled to a free registration from AALL for one SWALL member to attend this year’s AALL annual meeting in Baltimore, MD. This free registration is preferably for newer AALL members to attend the conference. The applications are due Wednesday, April 11th


Local Arrangements Committee

Monica Ortale, SWALL 2018 Local Arrangements Committee Chair

Over 80 attendees and exhibitors gathered at The Magnolia Hotel in Houston, Texas for the Joint SWALL and Houston Area Law Librarians (HALL) Annual Meeting, held April 5-7. Not only was it a joint meeting but a celebration of SWALL’s 60th and HALL’s 40th Anniversaries! The main theme of the conference was set by Vice President, Jeff Woodmansee as “#Diversify.” Check out the website at

To limit expense and waste, there were no conference tote bags or printed programs. Instead, attendees were given a folder (free from the Federal Depository Program) and a printed program at a glance.

On Thursday the meeting started with the Opening Lunch, sponsored by LexisNexis, featuring speaker Cynthia Etkin Senior. Program Planning Specialist from the Office of the Superintendent of Documents in Washington, D.C. Ms Etkin discussed the various challenges and changes the FDLP and GPO had faced over the years and, more recently, the changes included in the amendment to Title 44 currently moving through the Congress.

After a short break, the afternoon programs started with a Deep Dive into Disaster Planning. Opposite the Deep Dive were programs on ABA Simulation Course Requirements and Adapting Steenken and Brooks’ Sources of American Law. The Ignite Talks hit on tech competence in the algorithmic society, the art of research, CI on the fly, and legal research worldwide.

Thursday evening gave attendees the opportunity to decide between TWO receptions before dinner. The GLL/LISP reception, sponsored by Thomson Reuters was held at the Harris County Law Library. Another reception, sponsored by Cengage/Gale and South Texas College of Law Houston, was held at STCL Houston. Attendees from both receptions then met at Andalucia’s for a dinner of assorted Tapas and Sangria. In addition, there were SALSA performances and lessons, all of which were sponsored by Thomson Reuters.

Friday’s sessions started with the Association business meeting, followed by the Plenary session, featuring Luke Gilman of Jackson Walker LLP, and his very interesting introduction to Blockchain. Programs on current issues in immigration law, what the 21st century law library would look like, and strategies for government libraries preceded a luncheon sponsored by O’Connors a part of Thomson Reuters.

After lunch, there was a Deep Dive into Video Outreach and Video Editing for Law Librarians. The final educational events of the day were the roundtables followed by Dine Arounds featuring a variety of restaurants. However, friday evening also gave the SWALL/HALL baseball fans an opportunity to visit Minute Maid Park and to watch the World Series Champions, Houston Astros vs San Diego Padres! No matter what dine around or event was chosen, it was a beautiful April evening in Houston.

After an exciting fun filled Friday evening, attendance remained high on Saturday for a full morning of programming. Sessions started with an update from AALL President, Greg Lambert followed by a deep dive into Developing Cultural Intelligence. Other sessions included free and low cost tech tools and a step inside the collaborative zone.

Exhibit Hall breaks, dedicated meeting time for attendees and exhibitors, were available throughout the meeting. In addition, sponsors provided product demonstrations.

Thank you to all the speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and members who attended the 2018 Meeting. The Local Arrangements Committee could not have done it without you! We thoroughly enjoyed hosting you in Houston and we look forward to SWALL2019 in Little Rock!


SWALL Transaction Register



SWALL Money Market Savings


SWALL @ AALL Annual Meeting in Baltimore!


Save the Date! The SWALL/DALL/HALL/UNT Reception will be held on Sunday, July 15 from 6:00pm – 7:30pm at the Pratt Street Ale House, which is located across the street from the Convention Center.

SWALL Members Presenting at the AALL Annual Meeting in Baltimore

Be sure to stop by and check out the following sessions featuring a fellow SWALL member:

On July 15:

  • Rewriting the Rules of the Federal Depository Library Program: The Struggle to Amend 44 U.S.C.
    • When: 11:30 AM
    • Where: BCC Room 327-329
    • Who: Erick Beck, University of Colorado Boulder, William A. Wise Law Library
    • Link to Conference Scheduler
  • Reaching the Invisible Customer
    • When: 2:30 PM
    • Where: Ballroom I
    • Who: Karen Selden, University of Colorado Boulder, William A. Wise Law Library
    • Link to Conference Scheduler
  • Diverse Interactions: Addressing Race and Implicit Bias in Legal Research Instruction


On July 16:

  • Data Mining for Meaning: The Law and Corpus Linguistics Project
    • When: 10:00 AM
    • Where: BCC 339-340
    • Who: Karen Selden, University of Colorado Boulder, William A. Wise Law Library
    • Link to Conference Scheduler
  • Special Collections Make for Special Relationships: Working with Your Institution to Bring Special Collections into the (UV-Filtered) Light


On July 17:

  • TEDAALL: Library Leaders Share Their Ethics Stories and Challenges
  • Technology Competence in Legal Practice: Where Do Libraries Fit In?
  • Cool Tools Café
    • When: 11:30 AM
    • Where: Ballroom II
    • Who: Bailey Eagin, UNT Dallas College of Law & Kenton Scott Brice, University of Oklahoma College of Law
    • Link to Conference Scheduler


2018 AALL Award Recipients List Includes Many SWALL Members!

In April, AALL announced their 2018 Award Recipients and SWALL was well represented among the winners! Please take a moment to congratulate the following award winners for their outstanding service work this year:

  • Victoria K. Trotta, Associate Dean, Ross-Blakley Law Library in Phoenix, Arizona
    • Awarded the Marian Gould Gallagher Distinguished Service Award
  • Edward T. Hart, Assistant Dean for Law Library and Assistant Professor, University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law in Dallas, Texas
    • Awarded the Volunteer Service Award
  • University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law Library
    • Awarded the Law Library Publications Award: Nonprint Division for their UNT Dallas College of Law Blog
    • Awarded the Excellence in Marketing Award: Best Brochure for their UNT Dallas Law Library 2016-2017 Academic Year Snapshot
    • Awarded the Excellence in Marketing Award: Best PR Toolkit for their Promotional Materials and Events
  • Susan Nevelow Mart, Director of the William A. Wise Law Library at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder, a SWALL Institutional Member
    • Awarded the Law Library Journal Article of the Year Award

SWALL 2019 Annual Meeting Information


The SWALL 2019 Annual Meeting will take place in the vibrant downtown settings of Little Rock, Arkansas. Local arrangements are underway with more details to come.

The theme for SWALL 2019 is Rockin’ Roles for Legal Info Pros. The event is scheduled to take place on April 14 – April 16, 2019 at the Little Rock Marriott located at 3 Statehouse Plaza, Little Rock, AR 72201.

The SWALL 2019 Annual Meeting is being sponsored by UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law and the Pulaski County Law Library.

More information will be circulated about this event at a later date, but be sure to mark it on your calendar and save the date!