Saturday, March 28, 2009

Getting Tough for Library Students

After I looked over the post yesterday, I realized that it focused entirely on networking for law students. What, you may well ask, about library students? Well, there are lots of networking opportunities there, too. Librarians are nothing if not collegial! Law librarians have national, regional and occasionally, city organizations. Here is a set of links and a bit of info on those groups:

AALL, the American Association of Law Libraries (at, is the national organization in the U.S. It was founded in 1906 and currently has over 5,000 members, including a number outside of the United States. Student dues are $54 annually, but are pro-rated, so it depends on the time of year you join how much it costs (see here). They also have a deal for unemployed members (note: when I visited, the form was damaged and would not load -- I hope it's repaired soon!). For all but director's positions, the main hiring for law librarians is done at AALL's annual meeting, usually held in July these days -- check the website for info on the place and time for the next annual meeting. You do not have to register for the meeting to go to the placement portion and put your resume into the files or get interviewed. However, it is a very good opportunity to network. It does cost a good bit these days, but you can register for less than the whole program, and can now choose to skip the expensive meal and social functions and save money there. A lot of networking gets done in the hallways, if you will introduce yourself to people and have your business cards ready.

A much less expensive alternative to the national meeting is to attend a regional meeting. These cost less and usually are held in less expensive places. They are also less crowded and overwhelming. You can still meet a lot of people, and hear a lot about the hot topics in the profession. As time goes along, there is more hiring that goes on outside of the annual meeting as well. If you watch the AALL website for openings, and the listserves (more on this below) -- which tend to be faster sources of news than the website, you can hear of openings way before the annual meeting. A lot of libraries would be happy to interview somebody local or a cheap trip away to fill a slot rather than wait for the annual meeting, if they get an interesting resume. Even if you aren't able to get interviews through the regional meetings, the networking is still very important. The world of law librarianship is surprisingly small, especially if you are looking for a law school library job. We all tend to know one another and talk to each other. It's good to be known if you make a good impression! Start networking before you are looking for the job.

All year round, the AALL website hosts a Job Hotline here. It sounds great, and I think it's always worth watching if you are looking for work. But frankly, it's not the best or fastest way to hear about a job. Here and here are lists of other job posting sites. And, AALL has a listserve that you can join. A listserve, most OOTJ readers probably know, is a sort of e-mail subscription. You sign up and read all the e-mails from all the members. It makes a giant conversation among all the participants. You don't have to "talk," and can just listen or "lurk." The listserves are often the best places to pick up job openings very early. The biggest listserve is Lawlib, info here. But there are also listserves for the various regional chapters that may be even better resources for job listings.

Regional Chapters of AALL are scattered across the country. Check here for a list of links to the websites of the regional chapters. Some regionals cover a huge space, like the Mid-American Association of Law Libraries (MAALL) which covers nine mid-western states from North Dakota south to Oklahoma and Arkansas and east as far as Illinois. Other "regionals" only cover a state, like Minnesota Association of Law Libraries (MALL) or Michigan Association of Law Libraries (MichALL) or Arizona Association of Law Libraries (AzALL). Others are narrower, such as Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NoCaLL) or Western Pennsylvania Law Library Association (WPLLA).

And a handful are city-specific:
Atlanta Law Libraries Association
Chicago Association of Law Libraries
Dallas Association of Law Libraries
Greater Philadelphia Law Library Association
Houston Area Law Librarians
Law Library Association of Greater New York
Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C.
New Orleans Association of Law Libraries
San Diego Association of Law Libraries

If you look at the website for any of these regional associations, you'll find they offer a lower membership rate for students. And then, there are a very few associations of law librarians that are not affiliated with AALL. I know of the one local to me, Association of Boston Law Librarians. Again, a special rate for students, and, I happen to know, they also offer 2 "fellowships" for students who can't afford the fee. Many of the above organizations also have grants you can apply for as well, to assist members to attend the annual meetings. One last added benefit of AALL membership is that they offer small scholarships to law and library school students. All of these are great ways to meet law librarians in your area. They are friendly folks who understand how tough it is to get started in a new profession. Introduce yourself as a newbie. Do bring business cards. And don't be shy!


Ms. OPL said...

the DC chapter has a WONDERFUL newsletter--I joined it for a while just to get the newsletter.

Betsy McKenzie said...

You are so right! Their Law Library Lights is a terrific newsletter. The D.C. chapter is much bigger than most, because Washington, D.C. is pretty much the center of the law library universe. More law libraries per square foot, probably, than NYC, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, LA, or any of the other big cities. It's the lure of the federal government; all those firms, agency, courts, and law school libraries all in one place!