August 8, 2009
Another Director Named Jim: SUNY Buffalo appoints new law library director
Much to my surprise - for a number of reasons - I saw a tweet from AALLNET dated Thursday night show up on twitter late last night announcing that the new SUNY Buffalo Library Director and Vice Dean for Legal Information Services was Professor James Wooten.
My Surprise At Twitter
The lateness of the tweet could be a result of the twitter down time earlier this week, Ubertwitter not behaving correctly, or AALL having some sort of funky release time. I was really surprised to have not seen this show up on the various list servs we keep at AALL, especially the library directors' list serv which always welcomes new directors. But the real surprise for me was who was selected as the new library director.
My Surprise at James Wooten
James Wooten does not seem to have any library management experience whatsoever, nor does he have a background in information law. According to his biography he is a legal historian buff and philosopher with a scholarly interest in pensions and taxation. The years he must have spent in the library pursuing his many degress will have exposed him to some aspects of research and classification. This, of course, will be somewhat helpful in his role as the Library Director. And, I am sure he is a dedicated legal educator. However, it is hard for me to think his experience to date will be sufficient to lead a library into the 21st century phase of librarianship. I hope, for the sake of SUNY Buffalo, that he is prepared for this role; that his more than able predecessor, Professor Jim Milles, will be willing to advise him; and that he will pay attention to his most excellent Associate Director, Beth Adelman.
I wish him well and hope he embraces law librarianship to its fullest. Welcome Jim Wooten.
My Surprise at the ABA
There is another issue at play here. ABA Standard 603(c) states: The director of the law library should have a law degree and a degree in library or information science and shall have a sound knowledge of and experience in library administration. A little statutory interpretation question for the audience : Does this mean the director should have a law degree and should have a degree in library or information science, or does it mean the library director should have a law degree and must have a degree in library or information science?
Obviously, schools are interpreting the standard as "should" in both instances, and are disregarding the second "should." This was the case at Harvard (sorry John, no offense meant toward you) and is now being followed at SUNY (and no offense mean toward Jim). The second part of the standard just seems to be ignored. I actually feel sorry for people who take charge of a law library without having had the experience of working in one in several different capacities. It is a difficult job even for those who have "paid their dues" so to speak. But to what peril do schools disregard the ABA Standards? I do not see that they do anything when schools violate the standards that they set forth for accreditation.
I find this issue particularly interesting because this year, the ABA is making its five year review of accreditation standards. Could the law Deans of these schools know something that the rest of us do not? Will standard 603 be weakened officially? Remember, 603(d) addresses security of position (i.e., tenure). Why aren't the standards enforced by the ABA?
The standards review committee is actively seeking comments on all chapters in the standards, but specifically chapters 6 & 7. Comments already received by the Committee can be found here: http://www.abanet.org/legaled/committees/comstandards.html On this page, the review committee states that it welcomes comments. They do not tell you to whom you should sent your comments, but Dean Polden of Santa Clara is the chair of the committee. That might be a place to start. I will be lobbying for enforcement mechanisms and changing the "should" language to "shall." I will also be lobbying for changes to the curriculum (chapter 3) so that they more adequately provide for skills courses that include mandatory research sessions with professional faculty librarians as their professors. I hope you will all do the same. (VS)
August 8, 2009 | Permalink
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Actually, the information about Beth Adelman was incorrect. She is still here as Associate Director.
Posted by: Jim | Aug 18, 2009 6:44:01 AM
Beth Adelman won't be there as an Associate Director any more, either... the UB web announcement includes this:
"Wooten replaces interim director Beth Adelman, who will take over as head of technology at the university."
Posted by: Betsy McKenzie | Aug 17, 2009 1:23:40 PM
I believe the Seton Hall Law Library is managed by a non-librarian as well.
Posted by: Dan | Aug 10, 2009 5:34:01 AM