MSLL Logo 2000 Annual Report

Twenty Years of Change

Why publish on the web?

From the State Law Librarian
Marvin R. Anderson, State Law Librarian

Oh, the Changes I've Seen

On behalf of the Minnesota State Law Library, I am pleased to introduce our 2000 Annual Report as a web document.

Twenty years ago, I submitted my first annual report to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Produced on a manual typewriter - only five pages long - it set out the accomplishments of the past year and listed my objectives for the next one. In 1984, with the help of the library department heads, we expanded the report and established a standard format that reported on the work and accomplishments of each Library department. These reports were very informative and complete, providing a comprehensive view of the operations of a large public law library. Through the years, as the Library acquired better equipment (electronic typewriters, PCs), the physical appearance of the reports took on a more professional quality with multiple fonts, charts, graphs and other features.

Beginning with the 1997 annual report, we started experimenting with different formats. Last year, the annual report was published in a particularly special form to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Law Library. Emulating a law review, we footnoted the 1849 hand-written report by the very first state librarian with similar and contrasting activities in 1999.

Why publish on the web? Because, with this electronic version of our 2000 Annual Report, the Minnesota State Law Library witnesses the dawn of a new era in reporting a year's worth of activity. While this report doesn't have the exquisite handwritten quality of the very first report or the utilitarian value of our reports in the 1980's and 1990's, it reflects our continual commitment to use our resources in new and creative ways.

Oh, the changes I've have seen, from candlelight and ink to cyberspace and html. It isn't very often that one is able to participate in an inauguration of a major program change. I was able to do so because I am fortunate to be part of a staff that shares, cooperates and supports the quest to be an outstanding public institution. I would like to hear from you about this report. Please send your comments - the good, the bad and the ugly - to

Marvin R. Anderson
State Law Librarian
Administrative Services Report

Electronic Services,
Embraceable You

When I joined the staff in 1983, the Library had already begun to embrace the new electronic information age with the same "can do" spirit of providing public access that inspires every Library program. For example, in the early 80s, there was a need for low-cost access to Westlaw - a powerful new computer-based legal research tool - for the average citizen and practitioner of limited means. With the help of a grant from West, the Library installed a terminal in 1982 dedicated solely to Westlaw. A research service was born which continues to this day. Now, of course, Westlaw is available through the Internet.

Recognizing that changes were coming, library staff issued a report in December 1982 entitled "Microcomputer Automation at MSLL". Besides stating that we must purchase personal computers to enhance library services, this report recognized the need for a computer librarian to guide technological development.

Adding PCs turned out to be the easy part. I was there in 1983 to take part in purchasing the Library's first personal computer with funds raised by the Friends of the Minnesota State Law Library. Now there are PCs throughout the Library with high-speed access to the Internet - essential basic tools. In contrast, the creation of the Electronic Services Librarian position took 15 years, with its germination in that December 1982 report, its birth as a budget request in 1988, and childhood development through numerous library reports, e.g., the Library's 1992 Annual Report Part II: Initiative for the Future, until the position became a reality in 1997. The final impetus was the launching of the Library's website.

One phenomenon that our 1982 staff did not imagine was that the newly defined entity called the Internet would redefine the world of information. In 1991 the World Wide Web (www) was launched. This technology revolutionized the Internet and brought it into the homes of millions. With the help of interns and volunteers, the Library was able to launch its own website in January 1997. In 2000, there were more than a million hits on our website. Embracing the web has definitely extended the "first rung on the ladder of justice" by offering Library services to our citizens wherever they may be.

Barbara Golden
Electronic Services Librarian
Electronic Services Report

For the Public, Service is Key

I came to the Law Library during the summer of 1980, not long after Marvin Anderson was appointed the Minnesota State Law Librarian. That time now seems like the good-old-days to me, but in retrospect it wasn't all good. The technology we used consisted of IBM Selectric typewriters, single-line phones and a slow old elevator up to our cramped quarters in the Ford Building on University Avenue.

Amazingly enough, under Marvin's direction and leadership, the Library's mission in 1980 was exactly what it remains today. Our intent - then and now - is to provide quality access to essential legal materials or information to anyone who needs it, whether they are prisoners, pro se patrons, students, lawyers, law firm employees, law clerks, judges, or state employees. If someone needs access to legal information, we'll do everything we can to help them, within our established limits.

The remarkable thing about our progress over the past two decades is that the technological tools for accomplishing our mission have multiplied and made the effort much easier. Think about it: fax machines, dry-toner copiers, Voicemail, computers, online legal research, CD-ROMs, E-mail, Web sites, and more. None of this existed at MSLL in 1980 – and neither did any of the Library's numerous programs that we have established to accomplish our mission. To quote a sixties Rock band: What a long strange trip it's been. Indeed, but what a splendid and productive trip!

Daniel Lunde
Head of Public Services
Public Services Report

Still Reaching Out
After All These Years

I don't like to think of myself as old, but when I look back at what I learned in library school and compare it to the work I do now, I feel like I'm part of living history!! The Outreach Service Department didn't even exist twenty years ago, and now it includes two major programs (Law Library Service to Prisoners and The County Law Library Program), three full-time and two part-time employees, and a computer on every desk!

I do get wistful for the days of drafting reports with a #2 pencil, and flipping through an actual card catalog, but for the most part I strongly believe that we are providing better service, more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Technology is a large part of why we are able to do so. With our staff dedicated to helping inmates and outlying county law libraries, we're looking forward to the next twenty years and the challenges and successes that lie ahead.

Karen Westwood
Head of Outreach Services
Outreach Services Report

Highly Technical Services

I succeeded Sara Galligan as Head of Technical Services in May 2000. Sara led the department through the changes we have experienced in the past sixteen years. I have benefited as the current Head of Technical Services from knowing her and it will be difficult to follow in her footsteps. Sara hired me in February 1986. She assured me there was much to be done and Marvin reiterated that statement by saying, "he hoped I was not afraid of hard work and getting dirty". In the years I've been here there has been much hard work (the clean type) cataloging. We cataloged everything in sight including an apple pie, a stroller and staff members. There was plenty of the dirty variety as well, working at storage, dusting books, cleaning shelves, moving books, and reshelving the whole collection when we moved it to the Judicial Center in 1990.

It has been a satisfying fifteen years. I've seen the library accomplish many goals. The Special Collections room was established housing a choice selection of rare and unique books. The County Law Library Program has grown, providing professional cataloging to eleven county law libraries in nine of the ten judicial districts. (Hennepin County Law Library, which provides services to the fourth judicial district, has its own cataloging staff.) We implemented an outsourcing program that provided professional cataloging services to state agency libraries. This program outgrew the staff and, in a joint venture, MINITEX assumed the primary role.

I plan to continue the tradition and meet the goals established by the department and the Library. It helps having an excellent staff that has done much to make Technical Services a great department and MSLL the legendary institution it is today. We look forward to continuing this tradition of excellence and bringing the department into the 21st century with the new technologies and applications from MnLINK.

Dennis Skrade
Head of Technical Services
Technical Services Report

"State Libraries ... have ceased to be experiments, and in all the States are found to be so useful and important, as great depositories of knowledge and wisdom, that they may be considered a fourth branch of the government, silent and unobtrusive, giving advice and counsel to the other three in all that appertains to the highest exercise of human wisdom."
Robert F. Fisk
State Librarian
December 5, 1861

"What we have tried to do in Minnesota is to make the law library the first rung in the administration of justice. We are the first place where people go to find out the rules, the statutes, and the regulations that govern the relationship between citizens and society."

Marvin R. Anderson
State Law Librarian
November 1992

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This page was posted on May 2, 2001.