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Reference from Coast to Coast - Using Internet Discussion Lists

By Betty Roeske, Published on June 15, 1999

Technical Services - Using Internet Discussion Lists

Welcome to Reference From Coast to Coast: Sources and Strategies, a new monthly column written by the KMZ librarians. Headquartered in Chicago, Katten Muchin & Zavis has reference librarians in Washington DC, Chicago and Los Angeles. There are eight professional librarians who are assisted by a great support staff. The KMZ librarians field questions and participate in research in a myriad of subject areas. This column will highlight some of our favorite reference sources and research techniques in the hope that sharing information  will help you in your day to day jobs. We welcome all of your comments and questions, and would particularly like feedback on sources and strategies that YOU use for research on our column topics. 

Please send comments to the author, or reference@llrx.com

Katten Muchin & Zavis has Reference Librarians in its Chicago, District of Columbia and Los Angeles offices. Technical Services procedures are coordinated from the Chicago office, so these librarians are my customers in addition to the firm's attorneys and other staff.

Since I am not physically in the other offices, face to face communication is limited.  So I have had to obtain information in another way. In order to quickly resolve a particular problem or question, I have found Internet mailing lists to be a useful resource. They help me maintain my current awareness in both the publishing and the online areas. Though they do add to the volume of mail in your inbox, you can easily delete messages with subject headings are not relevant.

AALL maintains a listing on AALLNET. The address is: http://www.aallnet.org/discuss/list_gateway.asp. Included are Committee lists, Special Interest Section lists, and Chapter lists.

Another excellent source for a compilation of Internet lists is Law Lists, at   www.lib.uchicago.edu/~llou/lawlists/info.html. Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Foreign & International Librarian at University of Chicago Law Library, updates her lists of lists on a regular basis. This means that I am not frustrated by finding a reference to a site that sounds on point and discovering that it is a non-functioning URL. Her Law Lists include electronic discussion groups run by mailing list management software (listserv, listproc, majordomo, mailbase, etc.) newsletters, journals, etc. It has a keyword search function.

Don't limit yourself to only law-related lists.  There are also many other library lists that can prove useful. For links to the wide variety of library lists discussing topics from specific library software to library technology to indexing techniques, see Library-Oriented Lists & Electronic Serials. You may want to check under "Product/Services User Groups and Vendor Information" to see if there's a discussion list for the software you use in your library.

If the listservs are not discussing a problem, the other source that I use is the publisher web sites. (For links to publisher web sites, see AcqWeb, (http://www.library.vanderbilt.edu/law/acqs/pubr.html ). Many are now including sections documenting known problems along with their plans for the resolution. Some are even doing their own mailing lists. One example is the West list called servicesnews@westgroup.com.

Finding the right Internet mailing list may take some research. But once you find it, you then have access to people with a similar situation and how they are resolving it. Even if there is not an immediate solution available, you can brainstorm on a possible alternative. I use this information to develop a response within my firm.

Send any comments and suggestions to reference@llrx.com