Your Opinion Needed! CRIV Vendor Roundtable

For the third year in a row, we will be hosting the CRIV Vendor Roundtable virtually in late June (a follow-up announcement with more details coming soon!). If you have not attended before, the roundtable traditionally invites four major legal information vendors — Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis, Bloomberg Law, and Wolters Kluwer — to discuss how their companies or products address a given topic. This year’s overarching topic will be diversity, equity, and inclusion, but because that topic itself is quite broad (and the roundtable is only an hour long), we’d like to narrow it down a little further. That’s where you come in!

CRIV is here to serve the membership, so we want the roundtable topic to reflect the membership’s interests. Within the umbrella topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion, what would you like to hear the vendors address about their products? We have put together a very short, two-question survey to help us narrow down this topic. If you could take thirty seconds out of your day to answer it, we would truly be grateful. You can access the survey here (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JHN6TLH). It’ll remain open until May 25th. Thank you for your input!

Islamic Law Resources

April 2nd marked the beginning of the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month on the Muslim Lunar Calendar and lasts 29 to 30 days. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Since we are in the middle of this Holy Month I wanted to share some free resources that provide information about Islamic Law.

There are a few journals which publish articles about Islamic Law.

Harvard Law School Publishes the Journal of Islamic Law. This journal is fairly new and provides a look at Islamic law from a historical, comparative and social context.  Harvard also provides access to Shariasource a resource that provides context about Islamic Law as well as primary sources.

UC Berkeley publishes the Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law. This journal is a little older and provides articles that relate to the Middle East as well as Islamic Legal Traditions. The journal focuses mostly on legal issues but also provides information about the philosophical and sociological issues that underpin the legal issues.

Finally, UCLA Law publishes Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law (JINEL). This journal has been around the longest of the three that I have highlighted. JINEL covers all issues related to Islamic Law. They also cover legal topics that may be unrelated to Islamic Law but affect the Near East.

In addition to the Journals above there are a few LibGuides that provide more resources.

Keeping Up with the Vendors – In Their Own Words

Tracking developments in legal information vendors’ products and policies is an important part of many law librarians’ jobs, and it’s a valuable pursuit for keeping current in the profession.

While the major legal database and content providers all offer a variety of access points and formats for news about changes to their platforms and offerings, being aware of them all, let alone connecting with them regularly, can be a challenge.

To help, the list below brings together resources for staying abreast of announcements and product-related communications from Bloomberg, Fastcase, HeinOnline, LexisNexis, Westlaw, and Wolters Kluwer. Be sure to bookmark, subscribe, follow, etc. whichever are useful to you, and/or save this blog post for future reference. Please email me at christensena@wlu.edu if you know of anything missing; I’ll plan to keep it updated.

Bloomberg Law

Fastcase

HeinOnline

LexisNexis

Thomson Reuters Legal / Westlaw

Wolters Kluwer

Whatever happened to. . . ?

A look back at the AALL New Product Award Winners 2000-2009

Almost each year AALL chooses a New Product Award that “honors new commercial information products that enhance or improve existing law library services or procedures or innovative products which improve access to legal information, the legal research process, or procedures for technical processing of library materials. A “new” product is one that has been in the library-related marketplace for two years or less. New products may include, but are not limited to, computer hardware and/or software, educational or bibliographic material, or other products or devices that aid or improve library workflow, research, or intellectual access. Products that have been reintroduced in a new format or with substantial changes are eligible.”

But what is the track record of these awards? For many years the Grammy Awards “best new artist” was derided as a curse that doomed new artists. Do AALL New Product awards follow that track? Let’s have a look!

2009: Subject Compilations of State Laws (HeinOnline)

A good choice! Hein’s database has only expanded since 2009 and” the 2017-2018 volume adds more than 1,000 entries under 310 main subject headings. Researchers now have instantaneous access to more than 27,000 bibliographic records, many with extensive annotations. There is no longer a need to browse the twenty-plus print volumes in the series.

Most importantly, the annotations link directly to articles and other documents residing in HeinOnline. In all, more than 14,000 records link to HeinOnline periodicals, while the majority of other records link to case law or external websites. Additionally, users will find a subcollection within the database called “Other Related Works” which contains links to more than 670 full-text documents within HeinOnline. Database users also enjoy access to the current and all prior volumes in this series.” (full details available here).

2008: Cassidy Cataloging Services (WLX Cataloging Record Service)

Since 2008 Cassidy Cataloging has expanded the number of records available. Many libraries use their products to provide easier access to electronic resources. Although the titles of these collections have changed, a full list is available here.

2007: No award.

At first glance the “no award” years are worrisome. However, upon reflection, this is a good idea! Not every year is going to have an amazing new product and recognizing this fact keeps the high quality of choices. (Unless an amazing product debuted in 2007! Did I miss something?)

2006: No award.

2005: Thomson Gale (The Making of Modern Law)

This database instantly placed thousand of historic legal materials in the collections of many law libraries. Currently this remains a thriving database that is widely adopted by libraries. “Together, the distinct collections that comprise The Making of Modern Law cover nearly every aspect of American and British law and dig deep into the legal traditions of Europe, Latin America, Asia, and other jurisdictions, both classic and contemporary. Encompassing a range of analytical, theoretical, and practical literature, these collections support and complement the traditional study of law by featuring valuable books from the most influential legal writers throughout history.” More information is available here.

2004: Jenkins Law Library & American Lawyer Media (ALM) (palawlibrary.com)

ALM gradually acquired this resource and redistributed the content to other titles in their electronic databases.

2003: No award

2002: No award

2001: William S. Hein & Co., Inc (Hein-On-Line)

Since 2001, HeinOnline (spelled differently now) greatly expanded and is available in almost all law school libraries in the United States.

2000: IndexMaster, Inc (Indexmaster)

I am not familiar with this title, and it apparently ceased around 2010.

Conclusion

So what does all this mean? In brief, most of the resources that win this award have stood the test of time and remain important parts of the law library collection even 20 years later. I recommend keeping track of current New Product winners as the track record is pretty good!

Agree? Disagree? Did AALL miss major products during this time such as in 2002 or 2002? Was your favorite database snubbed in 2000?  

‘Tis the Season (to Volunteer)

It being AALL Committee and Award Jury Volunteer season, I thought I’d share a post on reasons you might consider volunteering for CRIV. Earlier this year, I authored a post where I delved into the work CRIV conducts on behalf of the membership. To learn all about us, I’d encourage you to give that post a read (and view our full charge on AALLnet), but as a short recap, CRIV, the Committee on Relations with Information Vendors, seeks to facilitate communication between information vendors and the members of AALL by establishing open, positive relationships. In an effort to achieve these aims, we serve both an advocacy and an education role, primarily through the following activities:

  • Advocacy
    • Requests for Assistance – AALL members are encouraged to submit formal requests for assistance with any information vendor through this form, to assist us with tracking requests and ensuring follow-through.
    • Formal Vendor Liaison Relationships – CRIV has an established liaison relationship with four of the largest legal information vendors: Wolters Kluwer, Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg/BNA. Our vendor liaisons engage in semi-annual calls with our contacts at these organizations to discuss ongoing requests for assistance and to hear the latest product updates and developments.
  • Education
    • Vendor Roundtable – Held in conjunction with the AALL Annual Meeting each year, CRIV hosts a Vendor Roundtable at which vendors are invited to discuss a predetermined topic and how their company addresses it. Last year, for example, vendors discussed the tools they use to ensure accessibility in their online products.
    • The CRIV Sheet – This newsletter from CRIV comes out three times a year, containing program highlights and reviews from the Annual Meeting as well as articles on a wide array of vendor and legal information-related topics. (As an aside, while content is largely authored by CRIV members, we encourage outside authors as well. If you are interested in writing for The CRIV Sheet, we are currently accepting articles for our February issue! Copy is due January 12th. If you are interested in writing an article, please email Andrew Christensen, this year’s CRIV Sheet editor.)
    • CRIV Blog – Members of CRIV contribute regular posts to the CRIV blog as well, often highlighting recent news and trends in legal information.

With all that in mind, why might you consider volunteering to serve on CRIV?

Consider volunteering for CRIV if you…

…like being an advocate – If you enjoy the advocacy role of the legal or library profession, CRIV is the committee for you! CRIV is a problem-solving committee that seeks to work on behalf of AALL members to solve problems and answer questions related to legal information vendors.

…want to get to know the vendors on a deeper level – If you are interested in an expanded relationship with legal information vendors, CRIV will offer you that experience. Serving as a vendor liaison, for example, you have the opportunity to engage in semi-annual calls with your assigned vendor, relaying any concerns or questions from the membership and hearing first-hand from the vendor about the latest product updates and enhancements.

…like to write (or want to get started writing) – Between our newsletter and our blog, CRIV members have several opportunities to write throughout the year. Whether you have tons of ideas about legal information or you regularly monitor the latest news from legal information vendors, those topics are right up our alley!

…like all things legal information – Whether at our regular committee meetings, on calls with information vendors, or through programming like our annual Vendor Roundtable, CRIV members are constantly discussing challenges, developments, and trends in legal information.

…are looking to develop new skills or deepen existing ones – Committee work in general is a great place to challenge yourself and try out new skills or areas of librarianship. For example, I had very little one-on-one interaction with vendor reps (outside of our law school’s Lexis/Westlaw/Bloomberg Law reps) prior to joining CRIV, but my outreach and engagement with a variety of vendors has grown significantly in my three-year term on the committee.

…are interested in a (semi-) long-term commitment – CRIV is somewhat unique in that membership on CRIV is a three-year, rather than a one-year commitment. If you have ever felt like you were just starting to get your feet wet on a committee, right as your one-year term expired, CRIV offers you the chance to engage with its work over three years, which allows you to try your hand at different aspects of CRIV involvement over time. Your first year, you might dabble in writing for the blog and The CRIV Sheet. Your second year, you might get involved with the Vendor Roundtable, or step up into a leadership role by serving as the blog coordinator, CRIV Sheet editor, or Vice Chair; by your third year, you might to decide to get to know the vendors better by serving as a vendor liaison (or chairing CRIV!). A longer commitment lets you better see the impact of your work on a committee over time.

The AALL Committee & Award Jury Volunteer form is due December 15th. If you have yet to submit, I hope you’ll consider CRIV. It offers a little bit of everything. And if you have any questions about CRIV activities, feel free to send me an email. Like the work we do, I’m happy to advocate on CRIV’s behalf!

What is CRIV?

When I was preparing to write my first CRIV blog post for the semester, it occurred to me that there may be some in our profession who are unfamiliar with CRIV and the work that we do (and others who might not mind a refresher!). So for this post, allow me to (re)introduce you to CRIV.

CRIV is AALL’s Committee on Relations with Information Vendors. You can read our formal Purpose and Charge on the committee’s page on AALLnet, but in a nutshell, our mission through CRIV is to foster and maintain positive, open communication between members of AALL and information vendors. We work toward this in two primary ways: First, we monitor AALL chatter for any complaints related to information vendors, whether those complaints have to do with billing practices (not pricing), resource functionality, or general communication issues. Then, in most cases, we will reach out to a contact within that information vendor’s organization to see whether and how that complaint can be addressed and resolved. We have four formal vendor liaison relationships with Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters, and Wolters Kluwer. Four of our committee members are designated each year as the CRIV vendor liaison to each of these vendors. You can find this year’s vendor liaisons here. Throughout the year, the liaisons will take any complaints or questions received about these vendors to our designated contacts within their organization for resolution or clarification; and twice a year, the liaisons have a conference call with the vendor to discuss any outstanding issues and learn the latest updates to the vendors’ products and services. As you may have seen, the minutes from these calls are then published here on the CRIV blog and in the next issue of The CRIV Sheet.

Does this mean CRIV only takes questions or complaints regarding those four vendors? No — we are happy to assist in communication with other vendors as well, and certainly have in the past. The best way to seek help from CRIV is by using our Request for Assistance page on AALLnet. This helps us keep a record of inquiries. While you are asked to provide contact information when you submit a RFA (so we can reach you to follow up), when we take your complaint or question to the vendor, we keep it anonymous. If the vendor responds that they need more details, we would only provide them with your permission. Our ultimate goal is to serve as an advocate for AALL members in establishing positive working relationships with information vendors, and as such, keeping your confidence as we share your concerns with the vendor is a priority.

While vendor relations is at the heart (and in the name) of CRIV, another significant service we provide is education, including programming, like our Vendor Roundtable at the AALL Annual Meeting each July; this year’s recording can be viewed here (recording will be available through July 2022). In addition, through the CRIV blog and our thrice-annual newsletter, The CRIV Sheet, we endeavor to keep the membership informed about the latest developments and trends from information vendors. If you have an article idea and would like to write for us, e-mail Andrew Christensen, this year’s CRIV Sheet editor. And if you have an idea for a blog post, reach out to Christy Smith, this year’s blog coordinator.

CRIV is always looking for ways to better serve AALL members. Be on the lookout later this year for a survey from CRIV on this very topic, but in the meantime, if you have questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to reach out! As CRIV’s current chair, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Ashley Ahlbrand, CRIV Chair, aaahlbra@indiana.edu