SWALL Annual Report 2017-2018

The Southwestern Association of Law Libraries (SWALL) Executive Board for 2017-18 was Joan Stringfellow, President; Jeff B. Woodmansee, Vice President/President Elect; Carla Cates, Treasurer; Cassie DuBay, Secretary and Mike Martinez, Jr.,  Immediate Past President. 

The 2018 SWALL Annual Meeting was held in Houston, Texas from April 5-7, 2018.  There were 71 attendees. At the Business Meeting, the new Executive Board for 2018-2019 was announced: Jeff B. Woodmansee, President; Stacy Fowler, Vice-President/President Elect; Jamie Baker, Treasurer; Cassie Dubay, Secretary, and Joan Stringfellow, Immediate Past President. 

An Executive Board Meeting was also held in Houston, in which leadership made plans for the 2018-19 year, including a commitment to holding monthly Executive Board meetings via video conference, having each Board member serve as a liaison to two chapter committees to foster better communication, and undertaking a large update to chapter by-laws including efforts to better mirror current AALL policies and modernize member voting and collection of dues.

For the 2018 SWALL Annual Meeting in Houston, we awarded the Kate Mara Award, the Marian Boner Grant Award, and the Coco-Miller Grant Awardto three recipients: Amy Wall, Alyson Drake, and Katherine Hoffman, respectively.  These named grants were in the amount of $500 each, for a total of $1500 in grants awards.  As the next Annual Meeting will be held outside of Texas, we are proposing an increased amount for the three awards to help offset travel and other expenses for members that may not be able to attend otherwise to increase member participation in the 2019 Annual Meeting in Little Rock.  For the 2018 AALL Annual Meeting, AALL awarded a chapter free registration grant so we did not award an additional AALL grant.

SWALL’s total membership for the 2017-18 year was 170 members, an increase of 11 from the previous year.

SWALL held an electronic vote March 6 through March 20, 2018 for the election of the next executive board.

The new SWALL Bulletin was revamped and relaunched using WordPress software. The new web address is: https://swallbulletin.wordpress.com/

The 2019 Annual Meeting will be held in Little Rock, Arkansas from April 14-16. The theme for the meeting is Rockin’ Roles for Legal Info Pros. SWALL will solicit proposals for the 2020 Texas meeting location soon. 

Notice of Proposed Amendments to SWALL Bylaws

New Year, New Bylaws… Notice of Proposed Amendments to SWALL Bylaws

2018-2019 Constitution and Bylaws Committee (Jennifer Laws and Cassie DuBay), together with the SWALL Executive Board

Building on the work of the 2017-2018 Constitution and Bylaws Committee, the current Committee has finalized proposed amendments to SWALL’s Bylaws. The Executive Board will submit the proposed amendments for a membership vote in March 2019 to take effect at the close of the 2019 SWALL Annual Meeting. In accordance with Article 9 of the current SWALL Bylaws, the Board provides this notice of the proposed amendments and voting. 

You may review the proposed amendments and other relevant materials in an online folder here. The folder contains the proposed amended bylaws with track changes, a summary table, a summary report, and a summary of information about quorum requirements from other chapter presidents. Please review the summary table and summary report for an overview of the proposed changes.

After review of the proposed amendments, the Board submitted two questions to the Committee. The Committee would like to summarize those questions and its responses for the membership.

Quorum Amendments (Article 4.5)

The proposed amendment revises the quorum requirement to 15 members registered at a meeting. The Board asked whether this number is too low. The Committee responded that such a quorum, as a percentage of SWALL members, is significantly higher than the percentage required by AALL (50 members registered at a meeting, approximately 1.5% of AALL members). As of January 15, 2019, SWALL’s current membership includes 102 voting-eligible members. Using this year as a reference, quorum would be satisfied with approximately 15% of its members present for a vote. President Jeff Woodmansee solicited information on quorum requirements from other chapter presidents. 15 members is in line with the responses received. Please see Chapter Presidents’ Responses re Quorum here for more details about other chapters’ requirements.

Dues Amendments (Article 3.2)

The current Board discussed the process for raising SWALL dues in the future, the current process for setting membership dues amounts, and what the process would look like with the proposed amended bylaws. Currently, an affirmative 2/3 vote of the membership is required to amend the dues in any way. 

Under the proposed amendments, the SWALL membership could raise dues by any amount with a majority vote at a business meeting or via written or electronic vote. If the dues increase proposal were to come from the Board, 30 days notice to the membership would be required. In addition, the proposed amendments would allow the Board to make small dues increases without a membership vote, not to exceed the Gross Domestic Product Deflator of the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Currently, such an increase would be approximately $0.49. The proposed amendments also impose an obligation on the Board to publish dues information on the SWALL website in a timely manner.

To vote on the proposed bylaws amendments, you must be a member in good standing and have paid your dues for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. If you have not yet paid your dues, you may review membership and payment information here.

SWALL Grant to AALL Annual Meeting 2018 Recipient Narrative

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.

John Waters delivering keynote address at AALL Annual Meeting 2018.

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

2019 SWALL Annual Meeting Coming Up Soon!

The SWALL 2019 Annual Meeting will take place from April 14-16, 2019 at the University of Arkansas Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Early bird registration will end on February 20.

For more information about the conference, visit https://ualr.edu/lawlibrary/swall2019/. The planning committee is still working on the final agenda, but you can visit this page to view the most updated agenda information.

SWALL Committee Announcements & Member News

SWALL Nominations Committee

The SWALL Nominations Committee is seeking suggestions for candidates for the positions of Vice President/President-Elect and Secretary of the 2019-20 Executive Board. The principle duties of these offices are set out in the SWALL Bylaws, section 6.2 and further defined in the SWALL Procedures Manual, section V. Suggestions must be received by January 25, 2019.

Please email suggestions/nominations to either Michelle Rigual (rigual@law.unm.edu) or Marin Dell (marin.dell@ttu.edu).

SWALL Life Membership Committee

The SWALL Life Membership Committee is seeking nominees. Life members have voting privileges but are not assessed annual dues. To become a life member, an individual must have been a SWALL member for at least five years, be retired from active library work, and be elected by the membership. For more information, see Bylaws, sections 2.2 and 2.3.

Please email suggestions/nominations to either Michelle Rigual (rigual@law.unm.edu) or Marin Dell (marin.dell@ttu.edu).

SWALL Grants Committee

The Grants Committee is pleased to announce that our Executive Board has approved three travel grants to attend the SWALL 2019 Annual Meeting, which will be held April 14-16, 2019 in Little Rock, Arkansas.  These grants may be used for registration, accommodations, food, and travel – with requisite receipts.

The Kate Mara Grant Award ($650) is a travel grant, which was established in 1986. This grant honors Kate Mara who was a book jobber in Dallas, Texas. She was the wife of John Mara, a founding member of SWALL. She helped organize the first SWALL meeting, which took place in 1958 in Dallas, Texas. The Kate Mara Grant Award is awarded to a person attending his or her first SWALL meeting. Applicants for this award do not have to be current members of SWALL.

Marian Boner ($650) was a former president of SWALL (1969-1970), the first director of the Texas State Law Library, and the author of A Reference Guide to Texas Law and Legal History. The Marian Boner Grant Award, established in 1990, is awarded to a current SWALL member to attend the current SWALL meeting. This recipient must be an active officer, an active Committee member, or one who is working on a current SWALL project. The SWALL Grant Committee members are not eligible.

The Coco-Miller Grant Award ($650), first established in 1998, is a general travel grant to be awarded to members of SWALL attending the annual SWALL meeting. Al Coco was the director of the Law Library at the University of Denver; Oscar Miller was the director of the law library at the University of Colorado. They served as past presidents of SWALL and were awarded honorary life memberships for their distinguished service to SWALL.

More information on these grants and the grant applications process will be posted in early February on the SWALL Grants page.  Please stay tuned for more information.  We would love applicants to be able to join your colleagues as we all learn about Rockin’ Roles for Legal Info Prosat the SWALL 2019 Annual Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas.

2018/2019 SWALL Grants Committee:

David Gay, Arizona State University Ross-Blakley Law Library
Wendy Law, Texas A&M University School of Law Dee J. Kelly Law Library

SWALL Membership Committee

Greetings SWALL members,

For those of you who have renewed your memberships, many thanks! For those of you who haven’t yet sent in your renewals, there’s still time! Membership is only $15 per person and entitles you to the following great benefits:

  • Ability to view and post to the SWALL listserv
  • Registration at the members-only rate to attend the 2019 SWALL Annual Meeting
  • Publication of your name and institutional contact information in the SWALL Directory, which will be available on the SWALL website (if you do not want your information published, you may opt out)
  • Eligibility for SWALL grants
  • Opportunities to get great professional experience serving on SWALL committees and publishing in the SWALL Newsletter
  • The ability to network with your law librarian friends and colleagues in the SWALL area!

Information about membership categories is available on the SWALL website. To join or renew, just fill out the attached form and send it along with your dues payment to the SWALL treasurer, Jamie Baker, at the address listed on the form. The form is also available on the website. If you have any questions about membership, just contact me at cburress@law.tamu.edu.

We look forward to welcoming you (back) to SWALL!

Cynthia Burress
Chair, SWALL Membership Committee

SWALL Member News

Sherri Thomas, the University of New Mexico Law Library’s Assistant Director and Collections and Systems Coordinator, has recently been appointed to the position of Associate Dean for Institutional Climate & Equity for the UNM School of Law.

Christopher C. Dykes and Daniel G. Donahue recently published Environmental Law: A Legal Research Guide, a research guide for librarians, practitioners, professors, and anyone whose research interests involve environmental law.

Monica Ortale, Associate Director of Public Services at South Texas College of Law Houston is the editor of a new journal, the Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy. The journal will be published annually online, and direct submissions can be sent to hispanicjournal@stcl.edu.

Additional Announcements

New Award from AALL: AALL Excellence in Community Engagement

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Excellence in Community Engagement Jury is excited to announce a brand-new addition to the existing AALL awards: the Excellence in Community Engagement (ECE) Award!  Approved by the AALL Executive Board in Spring 2018, the ECE Award is designed to recognize and honor activities or projects that exemplify outstanding outreach efforts through community engagement and that raise the visibility of the profession and the Association.  AALL members, Special Interest Sections, chapters, member libraries, and other groups affiliated with AALL are eligible. This award will honor persons or groups who have demonstrated excellence in community engagement, collaboration, visibility, networking, and/or member-to-member relationships. More details about the award criteria can be found here.

The Excellence in Community Engagement Jury is now accepting nominations. Eligible projects for the inaugural ECE Award must have taken place between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018.  The online nomination form is available here.  The deadline for nominations is February 1, 2019.

The members of the ECE Jury look forward to receiving your nominations for the first winner of this new award!

Teaching the Teachers Conference

This course will provide a foundation in instructional philosophy, techniques, and assessment for law librarians by law librarians. Unlike other similar courses provided by other organizations, this program will be a peer-to-peer, hands-on learning environment where we will be able to leverage our collective similar experiences to enhance the work that we do.

Topics include:

  • Instructional design and planning, including instructional design and cognitive theory, developing learning outcomes and creating rigorous assessments;
  • Presentation and delivery, including employing a variety of teaching methods, including presentation styles, delivery, and visual aids, and utilizing current and developing technologies in the delivery of information; and
  • Assessment and metrics, including developing formative and summative assessments, revising instruction based on feedback, and using technology to analyze assessment data.

Registration limited to 40 participants. Registration will begin on January 22, 2019 at 1pm Eastern time. The event takes place May 30-31, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Visit https://elibrary.law.psu.edu/tttconference/2019/ for more information.

Institutional for Law Teaching & Learning Summer Conference

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning is proud to host a conference addressing the many ways that law professors and administrators are reaching today’s law students. With the ever-changing and heterogeneous nature of law students, this topic has taken on increased urgency for professors thinking about effective teaching strategies.

The conference theme is intentionally broad and is designed to encompass a wide variety of topics – neuroscientific approaches to effective teaching, generational research about current law students, effective use of technology in the classroom, teaching first-generation college students, classroom behavior in the current political climate, academic approaches to less prepared students, fostering qualities such as growth mindset, resilience, and emotional intelligence in students, or techniques for providing effective formative feedback to students.

In addition to presentations by law professors from around the world—a Call for Proposals will be coming soon!—the Institute will provide several plenary sessions throughout the conference to further address relevant topics.

This year the Summer Conference theme is “Teaching Today’s Law Students.” The event will take place at the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas from June 3-5, 2019. Visit https://lawteaching.org/conferences/ for more information.

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 https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4929720. 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.