Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Beginning AALL's 2nd Century--Rise to the Challenge!

By Sally Holterhoff, AALL President-Elect

It has been great to gather with colleagues here in St. Louis the past few days—to learn about issues confronting our profession, to network with friends old and new, and to celebrate a landmark anniversary for AALL. Congratulations to all who have worked so hard to make this Annual Meeting an especially memorable one.

Even as our time here draws to a close, plans are already well underway for next year, when we will be heading to New Orleans to hold the 100th AALL Annual Meeting, with the theme “Rise to the Challenge.” This theme reflects the spirit that has enabled the people of our host city of New Orleans to survive a disastrous storm and its aftermath and to begin the process of rebuilding for a brighter future. Their example serves as an inspiration for us, both individually and collectively.

As an association at the start of our second century, AALL's reliance on the energy and creativity of its members has never been more important. Having the capacity and motivation to rise to the challenge in our work lives is part of being a professional. Rising means looking ahead, anticipating new developments, taking the lead in areas where we are the real experts, and standing up to make ourselves heard. Through the next twelve months, culminating with our meeting dates of July 14-17, 2007, I hope to focus attention on the challenges we're all facing in our work lives, in our association, and in our profession—and what we can do to confront them successfully.

One way that AALL is responding to the needs of our members and their busy professional lives is to adopt a new, condensed format for future Annual Meetings. Starting with 2007, the length of the meeting will be four days (Saturday through Tuesday), rather than five days, as has been our previous schedule. The AALL Executive Board made this decision over a year ago, after much study and in response to suggestions and comments from all sectors of AALL membership, and following a growing trend in the planning of professional meetings.

I can assure you that in the new format we've found a way to include our usual number of slots for educational programs, as well as plenty of time for networking with colleagues and exhibit hall visits. Highlights will include an opening event on Saturday night, an opening session with keynote speaker on Sunday morning, and educational programs during the day on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Two events being eliminated are the Association Luncheon and the second AALL Business Meeting. The Exhibit Hall will close Tuesday afternoon and the Closing Banquet will take place on Tuesday night. A schedule for the new streamlined meeting has been developed and will be available on AALLNET soon.

Besides the planning for these changes in the next Annual Meeting, I have set in motion some other activities for the coming year, focusing on the key areas of education, leadership, and advocacy which are identified in the AALL Strategic Directions 2005-2010.

An important area of attention for the coming year is AALL's new Continuing Professional Education program, which reflects many of the ideas generated at the Education Summit we convened last September. A Special Committee on Continuing Professional Education, chaired by Carole Hinchcliff, has already begun working with our recently-hired AALL Education Manager Celeste Smith. One aspect of the committee's work will be evaluating requests and awarding grant funding for educational programs to be held outside the annual meeting which are proposed by chapters, SISs or individual AALL members.

To support and maintain the leadership value of our AALL committee work, I have appointed a Special Committee on AALL Committee Structure. This committee, chaired by Karl Gruben, will be reviewing the current framework of standing committees of the Association and making recommendations to the Executive Board concerning what committees we need for effective operation of AALL in the future.

The Special Committee on Pro Bono Partnerships, a third new group for 2006-07, will focus on cooperative efforts between law librarians and other providers of pro bono legal assistance. Led by Chair Sara Galligan, this committee will be exploring ways to promote and expand these efforts and encourage more AALL chapters and local law libraries to become involved.

In the area of advocacy, we are in the early stages of planning an Advocacy Summit, to be held in Spring 2007. This event will be the second summit AALL has convened to focus on one of our Strategic Directions. This summit will likely focus on a specific advocacy issue and more details will be available soon.

I am so pleased and honored to have the opportunity to serve as AALL President for 2006-07. I am excited about the prospect of working more closely with many of the smart, talented, and dedicated individuals who make up the membership of this association. I'll do my very best to make the coming year a great one for all of us in AALL and I look forward to seeing you next July in New Orleans!


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