Wednesday, June 07, 2006

JD/MLS Student Conference?

In conversation last week with some of the library and information science faculty attendees at the Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) conference in Dubrovnik last week, I learned about something called the Great Lakes Information Science Conference. Now more formally known as Connections (the 11th annual meeting was held just a few weeks ago at Syracuse University), the Connections conference is administered for and by doctoral students in information studies. According to the website, "the Connections conference has developed over the past decade into a well-regarded and well-attended forum for emerging LIS/IS scholars. The conference provides ample opportunities to meet fellow students, exchange ideas, and present research in a friendly and receptive atmosphere."

So it occurred to me: maybe there should be something similar to this for JD/MLS students? Particularly for those JD/MLS students who are interested in careers in academic law libraries, where they are likely to be in positions where they are expected to research and publish for tenure, this could be a good opportunity for them to begin to develop a habit of scholarship. It would also help to foster the next generation of library leaders.

I suspect that academic law librarianship is going to evolve in one of two directions. My preferred future is an increasing emphasis on scholarly qualifications, as faculty in other disciplines have seen their tenure standards continually ramping up. The much less preferred alternative is a decline in the faculty status of law librarians, in keeping with a countervailing trend in universities to weaken tenure generally. If we want to preserve and strengthen tenure and faculty status for law librarians, we should do everything we can to encourage and support the next generation of law library leaders in developing the highest quality of scholarship.

I hope that those of us who are involved in education for law librarianship will have an opportunity to discuss the idea of a JD/MLS student conference at the Conference of Law Library Educators meeting in St. Louis. In the meantime, what do y'all think?

2 comments:

Connie said...

that sounds like a smart idea to me! Well, from someone in private practice it does at least. 8-)

Ellen A said...

Excellent idea.