By: Meg13 Apr 2011
I went to a great brownbag talk today by Professor Katherine Porter (visiting HLS this year from the University of Iowa) on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Because I know this is a topic of interest to many--and because I was already a supporter of CFPB and learned details that made me even more in favor of its success--I'm liberating my notes from their Evernote prison to share here. I'm not cleaning them up much, so be warned they are bullet point-y and there are guaranteed to be typos, mistakes, simplifications, and distortions.
Unlike some areas of law, consumer protection affects everyone, because we're all consumers.
CFPB is not about belt and suspenders-style redundant regulating (Colbert) - it's about America having no pants (Elizabeth Warren) (See 5:40 in this clip.)
FTC is a cautionary tale - it too started off with high hopes
Some state regulators wanted to do something about problems they saw - federal regulators said there were no problems, so they couldn't
Banks shop for their regulators - the ones that will make things easiest for them
"Safety and soundness" mission for banks means profit for shareholders rather than good practices/fairness
Purpose of CFPB--though some claim it is a mystery--is right in the statute - focus on markets and access to them (so it's not some socialist thing!), and that those markets are fair, transparent, and competitive
6 Functions of CFPB
1. Financial education - timing (more at point of need), innovation, new appointee coming from Consumer Union
2. Consumer complaints - routing system, tracking disposition of complaints, improved govt responsiveness. Will be expensive, but change to govt being there for ppl instead of in the way
3. Researching market functions - getting, sharing, making data public
4. Supervising compliance -
5. Issuing rules - authority to. Bankers are terrified of abusive aspect added to existing UDAP (Unfair and Deceptive Practices Acts) statutes. They claim it is undefined when it is--but of the terms, deceptive is the one that is undefined! Abusive is defined in statute as materially interfering with consumer understanding or taking unreasonable advantage of consumer lack of understanding, inability to protect their interests, etc. (will prob be similar to 60s-70s unconscionability litigation)
6. "other duties as assigned"
CFPB will be able to subpoena/issue c&d letters/conduct hearings/ and sue, selecting fed or state jurisdiction as appropriate. There will be respect for role of state law, but right now no decision on whether to have state/regional offices of CFPB. May work a lot with local attorneys general.
Limitations on power
CFPB will follow normal APA/notice and comment rule making
Exemptions: real estate brokers, home retailers, lawyers practicing law (rather than say debt collecting), those regulated by insurance or fed/state securities regulators, auto dealers. Funny thing: the FTC can still regulate auto dealers and now has all its energy focused on them bc it has lots of free time due to losing power to CFPB
2/3 vote of Financial Stability Oversight Council can set aside a CFPB rule if it puts safety/soundness/stability at risk
In charge of fed consumer law - EFTA, ECOA, FDIC, HOEPA, Truth in Lending/Saving, lots more. Enforcement of consumer protection aspects of these is fragmented under many agencies and will now fall to CFPB. Non-CP provisions of those laws will remain with the other agencies
Draft CFPB Org Chart - Some interesting choices made in where things placed
Chart includes targeted individuals groups - servicemembers, elderly, and students [having dealt with terrible service from one of my lenders, I'm glad to see this group included] are under education, but could have been put in enforcement too
Also notable: central placement of research--in most agencies this function is shunted way off to the side and pretty much ignored
Roughly half of spots filled [I think this means the higher level posts] - CFPB is hiring out of other agencies, politics, academia, and is also v. diverse, because EW wants everyone to feel connected to CFPB.
New CFPB building will be open for tours, lobby education opportunities.
150 employees right now (10% of projected) - they are working on building good organizational culture
Logo of a shield with clear lettering - hopes to draw on positive feel for law enforcement
By: Meg4 Nov 2010
This is a quick post on a topic I intend to write about in more detail later.
So, it has long seemed to me that it would be useful to have a library logo. Nothing fancy, but something that we could consistently use on print and electronic materials and eventually perhaps on library swag to indicate that the guide/event/service/etc. is sponsored and provided by the Library and its staff. Sure, we could in theory achieve this by including this detail in the text of a poster or research guide, but something that stands apart and is recognizable at a glance should be even more effective. We're not looking for something to scream, but something simple and elegant. Maybe even just a well-arranged typeface.
Last year we started a small group of design and font geeks to investigate coming up with a logo. We had some great brainstorming sessions--think Mad Men--and it was clear that while we knew exactly the sorts of things we didn't want, what we wanted was harder to express. Despite lots of doodling, none of us had the skills to create anything that realized the vagueness. We discussed doing a contest, but weren't sure how to run it. We also talked about approaching a professional design firm, but were pretty sure they would all be beyond our price range. We had even crazier ideas that I can't talk about. But sometime this summer I googled "logo contest" to see if there were any ideas for guidelines floating around the interwebs. Instead I found a number of companies that basically run contests for you. Bingo! (Quick acknowledgment: we're aware that there is debate in the design community about whether these spec design contests are good for designers.)
After a season of delays for AALL, summer vacations, and fall teaching madness, we launched our contest today, and I'm pleased with how it's going. We had our first entries, including one we quite like, within 90 minutes of going live. The contenders run the gamut of the subject line, with even a few that fall into the latter two categories having some potential. We graded them hard since it's the first day and it's already clear that we should have specified no academic regalia and emphasizing library instead of HLS in our initial design brief, but I feel confident we're going to end up with something good.
By: Meg19 Jul 2010
Imagine you're at the AALL 2050 Business Meeting in San Francisco, CA:
A librarian no one in 2010 has met, because he hasn't started his career yet, presides as president. After the treasurer's report, it's time to award the president's certificates of recognition. Among those called to the stage: a wizened Jenny Westlaw, honored for 40 years of service to the law library community. As Jenny makes her way to the stage, the librarians spontaneously rise to their feet and give her a standing ovation.
I've been trying to figure out something (polite) to say about Ms. Westlaw and her counterpart Johnny since I discovered their existence a couple months ago. (Incidentally, via a site with a url that revealed Thomson Reuters is outsourcing some of their marketing--sloppy, but not a huge surprise.) Since that discovery, the Westlaws have been easy targets for private jokes and mockery.
So here's the thing: the scene described above happened just as I described it this year, except with Cathy Lemann presiding instead of some unknown whipper snapper. And in place of Jenny Westlaw, it was HeinOnline's Dick Spinelli being honored for his 40 years of good work.
And I'm not sure why it took me so long to figure out, but that's when it really struck me: the reason some of us have such a strong negative reaction to Johnny and Jenny is that they are fake people. Characters. Dick is real. And he's got his own, non-scripted personality and has taken time to get to know us over the years, and isn't going to disappear when corporate HQ decides on a different marketing direction.
I like Dick Spinelli. When I visited the Hein booth at SEAALL as a baby librarian, he made me feel welcome and also made it clear that he had a working relationship with my director, mentioning her name without any prompting or guessing. And it's not a problem of old vs. new ways of doing business, because I also like Fastcase's Ed Walters, who let his personal passion for design shine through in the session he spoke at, especially as compared to the more corporate Lexis and Westlaw speakers. I even like my local Lexis and Westlaw reps.
Beyond being merely fake, there's also something a little creepy treehouse about Johnny and Jenny--like we're supposed to pretend it's normal for a legal information vendor to hire actors for us to interact with. (I think I heard that J&J were already Thomson Reuters employees, but the point remains since they're not playing themselves.) I don't know about anyone else, but if that's something I want to do, I'll go to a dinner theater show or visit the Plymouth Colony reenactment, thanks very much. I'm at a loss as to whom they are supposed to appeal to. Maybe students, but definitely not librarians young or old. And I doubt students love them either--they're usually even better than us at detecting fakes.
Sure, it's harder for Westlaw as an entity to connect with us because it's part of a giant corporation. Giant corporations like to be uniform and careful about their public presences, which often results in bland, personality-free communications. No surprise, but I'd rather have bland than fake.
I had a boss in my pre-library life who used to stress to the account reps that ours was a relationship business, not a transaction business. I've come to believe that outlook is valuable across many fields, including our own. I'd bet Spinelli and Walters might even agree with it. Unfortunately for Westlaw, it's pretty hard to have a relationship with a fake person.
By: Meg6 Jul 2010
So, how about that annual meeting? Law librarians have been talking, just a little. Here's the recap, followed by my two cents:
First, an observation: as I mentioned on Twitter after the first couple posts in the list above, I'm not entirely happy with the AALL annual meeting--content, process, and format--so I'm amused by the implication that we academic librarians love it just as it is. I know there's a longstanding assumption that AALL is academic biased, but that doesn't mean we don't have just as many suggestions on how the meeting could be better.
How many times have you heard someone say (or said yourself) the best parts of the meeting happen between sessions or after hours? After attending the meeting for just a few year (Denver will be my fifth), I know I was saying it as early as after my second meeting. And we usually say it like it's a good thing, although there is an element of putting down the programming sometimes.
I'm not going to say much about the content of programs other than to say I've been to good and bad sessions that have been both targeted and for general audiences. Some of the best programs I've attended have been those not in my general area of interest (if you go by my job description), or those that might appear frivolous (the fabulous program last year about comic books). So I'm not sure that changing the focusing or targeting will do much to improve the programs. My biggest complaint about the content has to do with accuracy in labeling of beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, and wanting more intermediate and advanced programming--something I know is being worked on.
The process of proposing and coordinating programs is getting closer to where my concern is. First, proposals have typically been due within weeks of the previous meeting. The proposal deadline was pushed back this year, which is great, but not enough. Information, technology, and library trends are changing too rapidly to have the entire program save a handful of hot topics decided on so far in advance. When I go to a session, I want to hear more of what people are working on this year, and less about what they did last year.
The process also feels mired in a time when we relied on post office and the AMPC members meeting live to discuss it. It wasn't easy to distribute proposals to more than a handful of people. But that hasn't been the case in a long time. AALL did a great job of explaining the rating and weighting process in the program planning FAQ, but it's time to have more content decided on by direct vote of members. Others have mentioned and I have long (well, okay, two years) been a proponent of doing the selecting for, say, half the sessions by a system like SXSW's panel picker. Are there sound alike sessions? Let us decide which one sounds better. Are there trends or topics that the 7-member committee is missing? Let the membership find them. That said, if people are unhappy now, it might be complete chaos if AMPC didn't exist to provide some checks, but the balance in the process could nevetheless be shifted a few more notches from oligarchy toward democracy without danger.
The format of the meeting is where most of my concern is. Those in-the-hallway, between-sessions, after-hours moments when solutions are shared and new ideas are sparked? Let's figure out a way to have more of those during the meeting.
The majority of AALL presentations fall into the broadcast format: many people listening to one person or panel for the majority of the session, followed by a small question and answer period, but not much interaction among the attendees. I've seen intra-audience interaction happen during both main and feedback segments of programs, but it's rare.
If we're all going to the trouble and expense of getting ourselves together, wouldn't it be great if we could find more ways to facilitate more generative programs? Check Roger Martin's definition of generative meetings:
a meeting designed for the participants to generate through the dialogue something that didn't exist before the meeting and wouldn't come into existence except through the dialogue. Generative meetings have always been extremely valuable because, in a sense, they generate new intellectual property that comes about because of the real-time interplay between the minds of intelligent people.
That sounds a little like Lawberry Camp, doesn't it? The Camp is happening again this year, but I was disappointed when AALL decided not to accept it as an official workshop. Sure, the explanation that workshops require measurable learningoutcomes makes sense rationally, but "learning outcome" is not the only valuable outcome. I appreciate the statement that the association believes the unconference and PLL summit should be held and supported, but as a member of the sponsoring SIS on the former, it didn't feel supportive when we heard how the program was accepted--especially when there was a snafu that initially led to it not getting a room assignment on the schedule or the requested AV equipment.
What would I most like to see change in the annual meeting? More open and practical support of non-traditional programming. Not just Lawberry Camp, but unconference sessions in other programming slots. More variety and creativity in formats. To toot the CS-SIS horn again, sessions like the Cool Tools Cafe that got people moving around the entire room. I'm not sure about everything that needs to change to make that happen, but I do know we need more support from AALL/AMPC and a willingness to be flexible on what constitutes an outcome. On the other side, maybe we need to do stuff like encourage Sarah and Jason to list outcomes from previous instances of Lawberry Camp as potential learning outcomes, or focus on the types of problems that attendees can expect to work on solving.
Here's what I don't want to happen: new, creative, innovative sessions just stacked on the existing, already overflowing program schedule to compete with the main stage(s). Like Tracy said, less is more. Many people are overbooked already. I'd love to see the dominant but deprecated broadcast format give up some space to opportunities to generate new ideas, solve problems, build relationships, and make the annual meeting a must-attend event. Here's Roger Martin again:
most meetings are still run on the tried-and-true broadcast platform and that is why the majority of people think that meetings are generally a waste of time. They don't have to be, but they generally are.
Need evidence that law librarians love generativity? Don't listen to the haters; check out the thriving law librarian community and conversations--serious as often as silly--that happen on Twitter.
By: Meg1 Feb 2010
Klingons do not procrastinate. It is a tactical delay.
--Lt Commander Worf
It's January 31st. A full month into the year. A bit late, in other words, to be posting about New Year's resolutions, or plans, or whatever you prefer to call them. Yet there is a benefit to the delay in that I can report on progress so far.
What I did post to Twitter and FB on January 1 was this: #in2010 I will run a half-marathon, read 40 bks, & stick to a budget. Also: knit a lot, librate a lot, entertain cats a lot, etc.
The second half was a silly statement of the obvious. As for the first three:
I will run a half-marathon...
Running is the area in which I have been slacking the most, given my motivation to run in the dark is almost zero and my usual path spends most of the winter unevenly snowed over. However, I have joined a gym and engaged in a few sessions of that strange activity known as cross-training. Once it gets lighter out, I'll get back into the swing of things. Last year I ran my first 10k in October after beginning running seriously for the first time (successfully) in August. (I have a long pent up future post about how much I used to hate running and how shocking it is that I've come to love it.)
Given how unlikely I once thought it even this time last year that I would ever run more than about 3 miles at a time, I'm confident that I'll meet this goal. The real challenge may be selecting the course. I have been thinking about the Valley of Fire half, since I enjoyed visiting that state park last year, but I am beginning to come to my senses about the hilliness of the course and will probably choose one flatter and closer to home.
Read 40 books...
I may need to increase this one, as I finished my eighth book of the year today (with only one of these having been started in 2009). Granted, two of them were short (Michael Pollan's Food Rules is more a pamphlet in book form), but it's great to have some momentum going. Part of it stems from digging right into the pile of free and nearly free books I picked up at ALA Midwinter. Quite a lot of the books over the next couple months will be for the history of Boston course I'm taking, but I'm hoping to slip in some purely fun reads as well.
Stick to a budget...
This is another one where I have fallen off the wagon, and need to get back on. The only major debt is my library school loan, puny by some standards, but I'd like to start saving more than I am. The only way I've ever been successful at that is keeping track of spending, so I'm planning to spend some time researching budget software for Macs.
As for knitting, entertaining the cats, and generally being a librarian stereotype...
..those are all falling into place with no trouble. Imagine that.
By: Meg18 Jan 2010
By: Meg25 Aug 2009
By: Meg3 Aug 2009
By: Meg3 Aug 2009
Three years ago this month, I went to my first day of work as a law librarian, then headed the next day to my first AALL.
I've always appreciated that my anniversary in the profession coincides with the annual meeting; it's a nice chance to reflect on my career so far. Not going to navel gaze here, but suffice to say I am satisfied, and looking forward to many more years of gentle law librating.
There are a few things, however, that stand out.
Before I became a librarian, I had an absolute dread of networking. The thought of it made my skin crawl. So I was surprised to find that it wasn't actually so bad when law librarians were involved. In fact, I didn't really mind it at all, and it's only gotten better from there. I think it helped a lot that the CONELL committee does such a great job of helping newbies get started.
The other thing that helped early on was walking into my first (the first, in fact) meeting of the Gen X / Gen Y Caucus. It feels incredibly corny to say, but it was a thrill to walk into a room with about a hundred people my age who were just as excited to be law librarians as I was. (I suspect part of the excitement was that I didn't really know anyone in library school let alone anyone younger who was also interested in law librarianship.) The first thing we did was re-arrange all the chairs in the room into an enormous circle. It was great. That was a highlight, but my whole first annual meeting made me feel like I'd found my people.
Fast forward three years to my fourth annual meeting. I got to work the CS-SIS booth at CONELL's exhibit hall this time. It was worth getting up for the early flight. I met a lot of the cool new people and began to feel more like an old conference pro. Someone handed me a slip with the URL to sign up for the mentoring program, and I think suggested I do so as a mentor. I guess I'm really not a newbie anymore.
Meanwhile, I've been on the Gen X / Gen Y social planning committee for three years, and this year's event was mind-blowing. We made a reservation for 20; I counted at least 53 people at one point. Yeah. It's just one indication of the group's success. We're taking all necessary steps toward becoming an SIS. Our members represent on SIS and chapter boards, and on national committees; and present multiple times at conferences. They're also behind creative new things like the first annual Lawberry Camp. (Got ideas for next year? Help with the proposal.) I have a lot of loyalties within the association, but ask me which group I'm most proud of, and it's the Caucus.
In addition all that, I've made some really amazing friends in the profession, especially over the past year or so. People I like to think I'd be friends with if we met outside of the law library sphere. I've found not only my people, but my pack.
Two other mentionable-but-not-really-related highlights:
And with this post, I hope to get blogging here a little more often. I've been waiting till I get around to switching to WordPress, then Tom Boone and Jason Eiseman convinced me at CALIcon that I too can handle Drupal--but I'm unlikely to make any kind of platform switch until I get a new computer this fall.
By: Meg9 Apr 2009
Conference materials will appear on these websites:
Since it’s a digital conference, they created a video to open the day in lieu of formal opening remarks:
Josh Greenberg, Director of Digital Strategy and Scholarship, New York Public Library
John Palfrey, Professor of Law and Vice Dean, Library and Information Resources, Harvard Law School
Ann Wolpert, Director of Libraries, MIT
Charles Cronin, Visiting Fellow, Yale Information Society Project
Mary Alice Baish, American Association of Law Libraries
Michael Zimmer, Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Ted Striphas, Assistant Professor of Media & Cultural Studies; Director of Film & Media, Indiana University Department of Communication and Culture
Jessamyn West, Community Technologist, Librarian, and Blogger
Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Laura Gassaway, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, University of North Carolina School of Law
Jonathan Band, Technology and Law Consultant
Denise Troll Covey, Principal Librarian for Special Projects, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries
Kenneth Crews, Director of Copyright Advisory Office, Columbia University
Jeff Cunard, Partner, Debovoise & Plimpton
Guy Pessach, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Frank Pasquale, Visiting Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Brewster Kahle, Digital librarian and co-founder of the Internet Archive
Yale’s Librarians on Parade movie was played
Where are we moving books and libraries to now?