Western Pennsylvania Law Library Association

A chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries.

Leave a comment

WPLLA 2017 Banquet

Please join us for the 2017 WPLLA Banquet! Our special guest will be AALL Vice President/President-Elect Greg Lambert.

When: Wed. May 10th at 5:30 pm
Where: McCormick & Schmick’s (Downtown – 301 5th Ave. Map)

PLEASE RSVP to Ann Unger.
SEND CHECKS to Liz Whittington at K&L Gates 210 Sixth Ave. Pittsburgh PA 15222 (Please note slight change from the flyer).


Leave a comment

Reading Is FUNdamental! Book Drive April 9-15, 2017

Join the Western Pennsylvania Law Library Association (WPLLA) and the Special Libraries Association – Pittsburgh Chapter in an effort to help bring the joy of reading to local youth!

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly two-thirds of low-RIF Pittsburghincome American families do not own any books for their children. RIF Pittsburgh works to fill this critical void in our community by placing more than 88,000 new, high-quality, high-interest books into the hands of more than 21,000 of our city’s most economically disadvantaged children.”   RIF Pittsburgh

Reading Is Fundamental Pittsburgh  offers children in our area the opportunity to choose and own their very own books!

Here’s How You Can Help:

Select and Donate a Book (or two) Today:

During National Library Week, April 9-15, drop off your new book donations (for children ages 2-12) at either of the following locations:

The Barco Law Library circulation desk, on the 4th floor of the University of Pittsburgh Law Building, on the corner of Forbes & Bouquet in Oakland

Or at…

Babst Calland, Law Library, Two Gateway Center, 603 Stanwix St, Pittsburgh. (Please contact Mary Stacy, librarian, in advance to make arrangements at 412.394.6534 or mstacy@babstcalland.com.

AMAZON.com: Place a book order through Amazon.com and request delivery to:

Reading IS Fundamental Pittsburgh

10 Children’s Way, Suite 300 Pittsburgh, PA 15212        

 * Note: Please inform Karen Shephard at shephard@pitt.edu if you place an Amazon order, so we can alert RIF Pittsburgh that a book is on the way. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Alternative Library Spaces

Guest post by Sarah Steers, WPLLA Member-at-Large

A breathtaking, 19th Century brick-and-marble-and-granite behemoth certainly represents the idea of a library: formal, imposing, permanent.  But communities change.  Contemporary construction lines the main thoroughfares and financial resources don’t necessarily support breaking ground on a new stone library.  How can a city provide a bedrock location for much-needed (and wanted) library services in the face of such change?  By thinking out-of-the-box (and looking at big box stores), some cities have solved the crisis.

A former Wal-Mart  houses the largest single-floor library in the U.S. in McAllen, Texas.  While the original library worked for the city for over 60 years, eventually the community’s needs outgrew the space.  When McAllen Public Library’s New Main Branch opened in 2011, square footage tripled from 40,000 square feet to 123,000 square feet.  Patrons sip coffee in the café, use meeting rooms with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, and attend lectures in the auditorium.  Kids even play outside in the exterior children’s area.  Before-and-after pictures of the construction can be seen here; the library even won the 2012 Library Interior Design Award  from the International Interior Design Association.

The old Hickory Hollow Mall in Nashville, TN found new life in 2014 as Commons at the Crossing when the city repurposed it as a branch library, park, and community center.  The outdoor spaces spill over onto the grounds of the Ford Ice Center  next door, home to the Nashville Predators, the city’s NHL team.  The library space offers interactive digital projection services – arrows light the way to the location of a selected book and quickly morph when stepped on.  The library embraced other forms of tech, too, with 3-D printing demonstrations and laptops and iPads available for checkout.

Not to be outdone, Austin Community College bought and repurposed the Highland Mall  in Austin, TX.  The college’s administrative offices are located nearby, and employees noticed that the building was largely empty by the end of 2010.  When city residents voted to approve two bond propositions, the funds paved the way for the redevelopment of the mall into ACC’s Highland Campus, a truly innovative academic space.  Opened in 2014, the former J.C. Penney houses most of the campus, including the branch’s library [http://sites.austincc.edu/newsroom/celebrate-highland-campus-grand-opening-august-27/].  For pictures of the 170-foot skylight, cut out to give the building a more modern feel and let in natural light, click here.

Rather than be constrained by the conventional idea of what a formal library “should” look like, these communities took what they had available to them and simply made it work!

Leave a comment

Save the Date: 4/27/17 Deep Data Dives in Legal Research

We have tentatively scheduled the next monthly WPLLA meeting for Thursday April 27th.  We’re dipping our toes into some deep data dives for legal research.

Join us for demonstrations of Ravel and Casetext’s CARA, followed by time for discussion.  Ann Unger will be hosting the entire event virtually, but she has a conference room reserved at Dickie McCamey for anyone who wants to stop by.

We’re finalizing a few details, but feel free to reach out to Ann or Sarah Steers with any questions.


Leave a comment

Library Architecture

Guest post by Sarah Steers, WPLLA Board Member-at-Large

A library’s structure inspires many feelings.  A cornerstone of a community or university, libraries are often large, and made of stone or brick.  Physically imposing, people quiet down and straighten up.  Libraries seem to command a bit of respect.

Christopher Rolinson, CC BY 3.0 us

One beautiful example of fine library architecture exists right here – the Braddock Carnegie Library.  Opened in 1889 with an addition in 1893, it’s been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for over forty years.  It was finally named a National Historic Landmark in 2012.

Fisher Fine Arts Library

Clear on the other side of the Commonwealth, the Fisher Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania also gets audible gasps.  Originally built as the main library for the university and opened for use in 1891, it was called the Furness Library for many years, after its architect.  This library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

But don’t limit yourself to Pennsylvania!  For a librarian, a visit to Washington, D.C. should certainly include a stop at the Library of Congress.  With construction approved by Congress in 1886, the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress finally opened to the public in 1897.  It houses stunning murals that highlight the development of writing (John White Alexander’s Evolution of the Written Word) as well as the possibilities of democratic governance (Elihu Vedder’s Government).

Close by, the George Peabody Library at John Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute in Baltimore houses special collections.  More recently, it’s been used as a venue for luxurious events – clicking through the pictures, it’s obvious why.

The 19th century doesn’t hold a monopoly on library cornerstones.  World-famous architects Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus designed the Seattle Public Library’s Central Library – the glittery, glass modern design opened to the public in 2004.

Some newly designed libraries take their cue from natural elements.  The Scottsdale Public Library, also known as the Arabian Library, gracefully mimics the surrounding desert in color and shape.  The designing architectural firm richard + bauer proudly displays pictures of the library from every angle.


Officer Nominations Now Open!

Our annual elections for new officers will be held beginning in early April. This year we will be electing a new Vice President/President Elect, Treasurer, and Executive Board Member-at-Large. 

Please volunteer to run for one of these offices or suggest a colleague who would be a good candidate.   The Nomination Committee knows that our individual members have what it takes to hold these positions, but we need your help in identifying willing candidates.

Distance should be no object! Our board meetings are held monthly at the convenience of the board members. A call-in attendance option is available.

Help keep WPLLA strong, and consider the personal and professional benefits of taking on one of these roles:

Vice President/President Elect

Incumbent serves 1 year as VP; serves the following year as President. Our VP serves as Chair of our Program Committee and, as such, plans the programming for the year. This is not as difficult as it sounds. The membership and Executive Board provide you with many ideas and suggestions. Your committee can assist with the execution of the program details. Your role becomes one of organization and coordination. There is also a spreadsheet of past programs and list of program ideas to assist you.  (Up to 10 hrs./mo. [V-P], 5-10 hrs./mo. [Pres.])

It is good to be V-P! There is training and assistance available for you. AALL is holding a Chapter Summit for all AALL Chapter leaders followed by an AALL Leadership training session on the Friday and Saturday preceding this year’s annual AALL meeting in Austin. Our Executive Board has approved funding the hotel expenses for our VP to attend these sessions.  These are terrific sessions at which you will meet other Chapter leaders plus the training is very helpful for our workplace too.  Please contact Pat Roncevich if you would like further details.


The Treasurer collects and deposits dues and fees, maintains the membership list, and reports on WPLLA’s bank accounts to the board and membership.   This is a 2-year position. (@3-4 hrs./mo.)

Executive Board Member-at-Large

The Member-at-Large attends the monthly Executive Board meetings, offers advice to the Board and may carry out tasks assigned by the President. This is a 2-year position.  [2 hrs./mo.)

Please think about this seriously over the coming week and email or call Ann Unger with suggestions for candidates.