Monday, October 31, 2011
A column in SLAW today has me thinking about legal research training for our law students. I don’t think that the training the law students receive from the database vendors is a substitute for the legal research (and advanced research) instruction law students receive from academic law librarians. I hope that never becomes the case and I agree with Professor Berring that I too, will “go down fighting.”
I think that the proliferation of search engines like Google and other free web resources creates an even greater need for vendor-neutral research instruction. Students today need to understand the role of many more tools. As teaching librarians, we are information experts and it is our role to help law students understand how to use all of the research tools available to them in a fashion that produces good, comprehensive, and cost-effective research results. It is through instruction and practice that the students learn these skills and develop the expertise needed to be effective researchers. I want my students to enter the work world with confidence to use many resources in their legal research assignments and to stand out as a cost-effective and productive contributor. This is accomplished, in my opinion, by exposing the students to various resources (and formats), allowing them to experiment and use many sources, and letting them develop the expertise needed to be able to decide which tool is best for which job. This takes instruction, practice, and time. I don’t think that can be accomplished through vendor training. I think the need for legal research courses in law school will (and should) continue.