Note: This post was originally published on Tuesday but it was mysteriously deleted from the blog so I am reposting.
Members of the The Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section of AALL have voted to change the name of the SIS to "Private Law Librarians & Information Professionals." The results were released Tuesday in a special edition of the PLL eNewsletter. Almost 79 % of those voting, cast ballots in favor of the name change.
The name change accomplishes two things. It changes the focus from "libraries" to the "librarians" themselves. It enlarges the membership tent to include the growing number of librarians who are now pursuing non-traditional careers as information professionals within law firms.
In late 2013 the PLL Board surveyed members on the name change. At that time 70% of the members indicated that the word "librarian" no longer described the scope of their responsibilities. Nonetheless. there was a strong resistance to rebranding the SIS without including either the word "library" or "librarian." The Board finally proposed a compromise name which satisfied both the traditionalists and those professionals who are focused on redefining the profession for the 21st century.
Creating a more inclusive name recognizes the many "non-library" activities performed by PLL members. An increasing number of librarians are focused on Competitive Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Knowledge Management, records, docket, web development, and other emerging digital roles. Members are intentionally embedding information professionals in practice groups outside of the library. I saw it as increasingly risky to maintain a tight professional identity with a room that is shrinking.
"Private Law Firm Librarians & Information Professionals" acknowledges the professional roots and a signals to law firms and the larger world that SIS members engage in a broader range of activities beyond traditional librarianship, it also combats the stereotypes that generate unconscious biases. Most importantly the new name recognizes that information professionals have a role that will endure long after the last book has been tossed in the dumpster.
The final step in the name change is a vote to amend thy Bylaws to reflect the new name. Those ballots will be sent to members on May 13th.