May 27, 2009
Revising the AALL Competencies of Law Librarianship: An LLB Interview with Julie Pabarja, CPE Chair
The AALL Continuing Professional Education Committee (CPE) is in the process of revising the AALL Competencies of Law Librarianship. In April and May 2009 the CPE hosted a lively listserv discussion, available at http://share.aallnet.org/read/?forum=aall-cpe, for the purpose of soliciting input from AALL members respecting how the Competencies should be revised. This month Julie Pabarja, CPE Chair, kindly agreed to be interviewed by email to give us a better understanding of the Competencies revision process. The interview also reveals how innovative Web 2.0 technologies, including the Law Libraries and Librarians Ning (developed by Jim Milles and currently administered by Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Connie Crosby, Elizabeth Farrell, & Roger Skalbeck), and the AALL Tools for Success in Today's Economy wiki are enabling AALL members to participate in the work of the association. Here is a lightly edited version of the interview:
LLB: What led the CPE to revise the Competencies at this time?
JP: Law librarians were discussing the AALL Competencies [of] Law Librarianship on the Law [Libraries and] Librarians Ning and questioning whether the language was still relevant today. A few members of the . . . (CPE) and the AALL Board are members of the Ning and noticed the discussions. The Board and CPE felt this was a good time to review the Competencies to see if any changes need to be made. The Competencies fall under the charge of CPE which is why this committee is handling the review process.
LLB: What role do the Competencies play in the work of AALL, and what Competency-related activities did the committee engage in prior to the April/May 2009 listserv discussion of the Competencies?
JP: The Competencies[,] which were approved in 2001[,] play an important role when program proposals are being submitted for the [AALL] annual meeting and when AALL members are applying for the AALL/BNA Continuing Professional Education grants. [Program and grant proposal evaluators use the Competencies to assess proposals, while AALL members use the Competencies to plan their professional development, including selection of AALL Annual Meeting programs to attend.—Editor’s note.] Prior to the listserv discussion, CPE is unaware of any other activities related to the Competencies. This is the first time CPE [has reviewed] the Competencies since they were passed in 2001.
LLB: Each stage of the Competencies listserv discussion began with a CPE member’s posting several “leading questions” designed to spur discussion. How did the CPE develop these "leading questions"?
JP: CPE members reviewed the Competencies and identified keywords and points that would make good questions and get members thinking about the language. They also used keywords and concepts from what was specifically discussed on the Law [Libraries and] Librarians Ning.
LLB: What were the CPE’s major findings from the listserv discussion?
JP: The committee is still in the process of evaluating the comments. However, based on the listserv discussion, the existing Competencies appear to have been well written and many found them to still be relevant. There is no indication that members are asking for a major overhaul of the Competencies. CPE will be recommending minor language changes and possibly adding to the Competencies on skills that are also prevalent in our profession today.
LLB: What if anything most surprised you and/or the committee about the Competencies listserv discussion?
JP: When you do a listserv discussion, you hope that people will participate. The amount of people who signed up for this discussion and actively participated was a good surprise for the committee. CPE received a lot of really good, well-thought [out] comments that will be helpful as we go through the review process.
LLB: What are the next steps in the Competencies revision process, and what are the dates of upcoming important events in that process?
JP: CPE would like to continue the discussion on the Competencies and hear from law librarians who are interested but did not have a chance to contribute in the listserv discussion. CPE is offering another opportunity to discuss the Competencies on the AALL Tools for Success in Today's Economy wiki. . Members can post their comments and suggestions on the wiki as we continue the review process of the Competencies. Members are also encouraged to contact the CPE Chair or any CPE  memberif they would like to discuss the Competencies. [Professor April Schwartz will become CPE Chair as of July 29.—Editor’s note.] Suggestions and comments will be accepted until the beginning of August. CPE will review all the comments, recommend any changes, and submit them to the [AALL] Board for approval. The committee would like to see this review process completed by Spring 2010.
LLB: When do you expect a draft of the revised Competencies to be available to the AALL membership?
JP: We are unsure when a draft will be available. CPE hopes to take advantage of the wiki that is on AALLNET by posting [the committee’s] progress on there so that people can monitor and comment. Members are also encouraged to check the CPE website for updates. To view the current Competencies, go to http://aallnet.org/prodev/competencies.asp.
LLB: Julie, many thanks for taking time to speak with us, and thanks to you and the CPE members for your great work on the Competencies, a very important resource for our profession. We encourage AALL members to post their comments on the Competencies on the AALL Tools for Success in Today's Economy wiki.
[Robert C. Richards]
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