Friday, January 04, 2008

AALL Trade organization or Professional organization?

Mary Ann Archer, acting director at William Mitchell, sends a helpful analysis. Evidently, it makes a difference in anti-trust analysis whether you characterize AALL as a professional organization or a trade group. And for an association to be a professional organization, there must be qualifications on membership: education or professional qualifications. AALL with its broad membership that covers law librarians and those interested in law libraries, members in many work settings, with and without MLS and/or JD, cannot reasonably set up such qualifications. The conversations librarians have about do you need both degrees does not even reach the breadth that AALL must offer – we have members who are in firm libraries, and courts, law schools, publishers and vendors, and independent contractors and consultants. This is a remarkably broad organization, and I would not want to try to shove anybody “off the island.”

But it really made a difference to my understanding of the antitrust issue to hear that the definition of AALL as a trade group is probably why the lawyer is giving such very conservative advice about antitrust matters. I know very little about antitrust, but I will bet those of us who have researched the question, or asked faculty opinions have not correctly characterized AALL – I would certainly never have called it a trade group!

This afternoon, we will discuss the formation of a separate group, defined simply as directors of law school libraries. It might be important for us to ascertain if this would be adequate to class the new organization as a professional organization.

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