AALL reports this morning the name change proposal failed. A little more than 4 out of every 5 votes received were against the name change. AALL will continue to be the American Association of Law Libraries rather than the proposed Association for Legal Information.
Nearly 60% of the membership voted on the proposal, which AALL is reporting is a record number.
So, what does all of this mean? Judging by the pre-voting arguments posted on the AALL message boards, some members strongly identify with the terms “library” and “librarian” and believe they most accurately describe their employment position. Other members thought a name change is worth considering but did not like the vagueness of the proposed name: Association for Legal Information. Members voiced a desire to have the opportunity to come up with alternative names. A virtual town hall has been scheduled by AALL, for Tuesday, February 23rd, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. (register here), where, presumably, these issues will be examined.
On the macro level, law librarianship, of course, has been going through some massive transitions as we have entered the digital age. Examining if the terms “library” and “librarian” reflect a position that is dealing less with physical books and more with servers, clouds, and hard drives is a healthy exercise when assessing the big picture of our industry. And, this exercise has had some true positives: voter turnout shows how passionate and involved the membership is about this profession, and the proposal has sparked the debate on the future of our profession, which is the major issue we have to always be mindful of. Also, I am encouraged by the association’s decision to be proactive with regard to this situation, rather than reactive. It is a healthy question to ask what should we call ourselves, especially before someone outside of librarianship decides to change our name for us. Regardless, I am excited to see where the situation ends up–will the terms library and libraries begin to be associated with digital holdings as well, or will this name change debate continue on?