Tag Archives: Susan Catterall

North Carolina Pattern Jury Instructions – No Longer Available Through NCBA

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The Charlotte School of Law library maintains copies of the North Carolina Pattern Jury Instructions (Civil, Criminal and Motor Vehicle Negligence) in print, in the Reference Carolinas section. These pattern jury instructions are useful as a starting point for anyone creating jury instructions for a specific case. The instructions have been drafted by the N.C. Conference of Superior Court Judges and have been coordinated by the University of North Carolina School of Government.

Until Monday, October 6th, the North Carolina Bar Association had provided electronic access to these instructions by means of a licensing agreement involving FastCase, the North Carolina Bar Association and the University of North Carolina School of Government.  The NCBA’s license is not being renewed.

The School of Government has licensed the exclusive electronic rights to CX Corp.  Subscription access to the electronic editions of the Pattern Jury Instructions are available directly through CX Corp at www.ncpji.  Members of the North Carolina Bar Association may be entitled to a discount for a one-time subscription and annual updates.  Questions regarding how to secure the discount should be addressed to Joyce Brafford (jbrafford@ncbar.org or 919-996-4377).

~Susan Catterall~

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Back to School: Lessons for the Second Time Around

To educate

“Are you just filling in for the regular librarian?”   I was stunned, and on that particular day, frustrated almost to tears.  Had the question come from a law student, it would have been understandable and more palatable. I was, after all, only 2 months into a new job. Instead, it had come from a “public patron” whose inability to articulate his needs paled next to my inadequacy to walk him through a reference interview.

Like many reference librarians, I’ve spun my share of straw into gold and was proud of it.  A previous director frequently bragged that books flung themselves off the shelves into my arms, opened to the correct page and that a halo would highlight the significant passage.  Those days were gone. I felt like a failure and wondered if I would ever be competent again.

This anecdote, now legend among the staff, serves as a reminder that every job holds its own challenges, even for veteran librarians.  After seventeen years as a research librarian in private law libraries, I had returned to academic law libraries.

I had learned much as a private law librarian, including the business side of practice.  It had been rewarding, but I missed the interaction with students, the chance to support scholarship and the stimulation I had found in teaching.  I wanted new challenges, but wasn’t quite ready to let go of the familiar.

And so, armed with my desire to return to academic law libraries, a yearning to be nearer to family and a leap of faith, I crossed the Mason-Dixon Line, changed time zones and moved to North Carolina. I began work as a reference librarian at the Charlotte School of Law.

While I had been away, law schools had been realigning their missions and a new model of legal education had emerged. Charlotte School of Law epitomizes that model.  Charlottelaw is a member of a consortium of independent, community-based law schools. It’s strategically located in North Carolina’s largest city, at the center of the banking industry.  The school’s mission advocates student-centered outcomes, serving the underserved and preparing practice-ready graduates.  The school set a pro bono requirement for students and incorporates experiential learning into many of its courses.

I had expected that my greatest challenge would be advances in technology and their incorporation into the classroom. Integration had moved beyond PowerPoint presentations. Fortunately for me, not only has Charlottelaw  encouraged faculty to incorporate emerging technologies into instruction, it has provided professional development opportunities regarding training on video conferencing software, course management systems and the creation of distance education modules.  Librarians continue to go into the classroom, but now we do it both live and virtually. I am in the process of creating an online legal research component for the first year research and writing course. Adapting to technologies is a continual process for me. I hope to stay at least one step ahead of the students.

I had departed law school libraries before the release of the 1992 MacCrate report on law schools and the legal profession. In the aftermath, there has been a concentrated attention to rubrics, mapping, outcomes, and applications of Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy.   Most recently, this interest has been propelled by the proposed revision to the American Bar Association Standards for Approval of Law Schools.

The A.B.A. Standards Review Committee, after assessing the condition of legal education in the wake of the MacCrate report and the subsequent findings compiled by William Sullivan and others in Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (also known as the “Carnegie Foundation Report”) and Roy Stuckey and others in Best Practices for Legal Education, proposed a revision to the standards that would address learning outcomes. The proposed revision shifts the focus from teaching to learning and from curriculum to outcomes.

Charlottelaw, as a young school has been an early advocate.  In May, Charlotte Law hosted the “Assessment and Student Outcomes Conference – Implications of the Proposed ABA Standard on Student Learning Outcomes.”  Conference speakers included consortium faculty, education professors and legal scholars, including President of the New York Law School, Richard Matasar, and Steven Bahls, principle draftsman of the proposed revision. I feel as if I’ve come in on the ground floor of something monumental.

I’m pleased with the transition I’ve made and am enjoying my new position.  I’m not only grateful for the opportunity to stretch my own skills and knowledge, but I am beginning to feel competent again.  I also better understand the adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  When spring arrived, I found that I missed the fragrance of lilacs.  They don’t do as well here as they did in the Midwest, because they need sustained periods of cold. I have, however, discovered Crepe Myrtles. Their blossoms are gorgeous and resemble those of lilacs.  They lack the fragrance of lilacs, but they last for months and remind me of both homes.

~Susan Catterall~

This article was originally published in the November-December 2010 issue of the online West publication, Law Librarians in the New Millennium.

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Books, Libraries and Serendipity

As we celebrate National Library Week, I encourage you to reflect upon the enchantment which attaches to certain books.  Book lovers know the value of a good book; how it may inspire, challenge, foreshadow and, in other ways, impact lives.  However, even book lovers acknowledge that sometimes a book is more than just a book.


The embossed book plate bore the words, “Sioux City Public Library, Sioux City, IA” and the inscription read “From the Children of Sioux City, Iowa to the Children of Lund, Sweden.”  All in all, it was pretty straight forward, but I still had no answer for my friend, Nancy’s question – “Does your library often give books away to other libraries?”  It wasn’t an unheard of practice then, and it continues today. However, this exchange involved a heartland city of approximately 75,000 and similarly-sized city in southern Sweden.  Actually, I wondered how Nancy had happened upon that particular book. Or to paraphrase a classic, “Of all the books in all the libraries in all the world,” how did she pull that one off the shelf?

Nancy and I had been friends since college.  My goal was to finish grad school and land a job in a college or university library.  Nancy was finishing up her degree in education, but also planned to enter graduate school and earn her degree in library science.

As it happened, we were both side tracked. After graduation, Nancy married, temporarily put her career on hold and moved with her husband to Lund, Sweden where he pursued his post-doctorate work.  My first job after graduate school was not in an academic library, but rather as the Young Adult librarian at the Sioux City Public Library.  I was working there when I received Nancy’s letter.

My direct supervisor, Ella Lauritsen, was the Assistant Director and in charge of Children’s services for the entire library system. By the time I met her, Ella had served that library for nearly 40 years and was nearing retirement. She was of Danish heritage and her pride in her ancestry lead her to make almost annual trips to Denmark.  In my mind, it seemed logical that perhaps on one of these trips, she had taken the ferry across to Malmo, Sweden, boarded the train to Lund and had bestowed gifts to several libraries along the way.  For all I knew she traveled around all of Scandinavia presenting books to various libraries on each trip.  But when exactly would that have been?  At the time, the book in question was over 40 years old (and is now nearly 70).  Anyone, Ella, or someone prior to her, could have sent or taken the book to Sweden.

Many years earlier, 1941, in particular, Robert McCloskey published a children’s book, Make Way For Ducklings. The book, for those who aren’t familiar with it or can’t recall the plot, relates the story of a Mother duck who parades her baby ducklings across the Boston Public Gardens and is assisted by a kindly policeman who stops traffic for them.  The book won the Caldecott Medal, became a beloved classic and has delighted many generations of children, both in this country and around the world.  Even today, one may view the charming statues of the duck family in Boston Public Gardens.

Yet when I asked her about the book, Ella was stumped.  And, as it turned out, she didn’t carry armfuls of books around the world to other libraries.  She deliberated on how and when this title had ended up in Sweden. She also asked me how I had learned of it.

As I mentioned earlier, Nancy had put her career on hold while in Sweden. As a young mother, she often took her baby for walks.  Also, because her plans were to become a children’s librarian, she thought it would be interesting to explore some of the children’s books at the local library.  She had enjoyed reading Make Way For Ducklings as a child and was pleasantly surprised when she found the book on the shelf of the children’s section. The book, after all, had been translated into several languages.  What startled her was that this specific book was in English and bore the aforementioned book plate.

What made this situation all the more fluky was that I was in the midst of planning a trip to Lund in order to visit Nancy and her family.  In the days before internet access and cell phone availability, all negotiations had to be done by airmail letter or phone.  Because Nancy had no telephone, arrangements had to be made sufficiently in advance (again by letter) in order to ensure that she would be near a phone, should I call.  When I received this particular letter, I had expected it to include further plans and directions, but not a mystery that seemed to foreshadow the plans of two fairly unexceptional young women.

I never actually found an answer to her question.  Ella thought there may once have been, years before, an international children’s literature conference which had been held in Lund and that her predecessor had attended.  We could never validate this.  The predecessor was deceased and no one at the library actually recalled any literature conference.  It probably didn’t matter.  I have chosen to suspend evidence-based reality and, instead, embrace a more ephemeral explanation involving serendipity, kismet and karma.  Yes, sometimes a book is just a book and yet… .

~Susan Catterall~

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Which Barbie Are You? Lawyer Barbie?


There’s a game making the rounds of social media, notably Facebook, which encourages one to embrace their inner Barbie.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I probably will. I believe the odds are good that I’ll be happy whatever the outcome.  After all, Barbie Millicent Roberts, over-achiever that she is, has had over 150 careers, the majority of which have been successful.  She’s also excelled in a number of challenging hobbies. Surely I could identify with one of these manifestations?

I’m not holding out for “Lawyer Barbie”, though. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Barbie masquerading as Elle Woods, resplendent in pink suit, pillbox hat and dog pal Bruiser or whether it’s Barbie as herself, sporting a stylish, bobbed hairdo and wearing a skirt, the length of which indicates that she’s channeling Allie McBeal. I’m just not feeling it.  Actually, I may be as reluctant as she is to be defined by one lone Barbie choice.

Although I didn’t own one of the first Barbies, I was an early adapter. I’m not even a collector, but over the years, I have defended her choices, cheered her triumphs and even noted her 40th and 50th birthdays.  She’s held on, despite her critics, and has emerged victorious on more than one occasion. This doll has legs, literally and figuratively, and over the years they have carried her past Ginny, Tammy, the “Happy to Be Me” wannabes and the Bratz. (The latter, I’m delighted to note, are currently engaged in a turf war with the “Ever After High” gang. I’m pulling for the storybook off-spring. Please don’t judge me.)

Barbie’s never been afraid of hard work.  In the board game, “Barbie: Queen of the Prom,” the prerequisites for success (and yes, unfortunately success meant becoming prom queen), were that one had to be a club president, go steady and buy one’s own prom gown with money earned by babysitting, waitressing and addressing wedding invitations.  There were not many career choices in those days. After high school, Barbie apparently found success as a flight attendant, nurse, teacher, ballet dancer and a cheerleader for most of the Big 10 Universities, as well as LSU, Alabama and Kentucky. (I don’t ask how; I just marvel.)

Barbie parlayed those early achievements into career goals and transitioned from teen model to…well, to just about anything. Sure, there were some missteps. I’m not talking about fashion and hair faux pas, because anyone who lived through the 80s shouldn’t throw stones. Most notably, there was the infamous “math is hard” statement, but clearly that was taken out of context because Barbie went on to become a veterinarian, surgeon, pilot, astronaut and presidential candidate, all the while simultaneously serving in several branches of the military, as well as being a fire-fighter and police officer.

In addition, she has competed in several Olympic events, drives race-cars and sings. (Most recently, she was an American Idol winner.) Through it all, Barbie has never lost her sunny disposition or her ability to accessorize.  Furthermore, she has never permitted herself to be defined by a man, whether it’s good guy/occasional boyfriend, Ken, or hunky G.I. Joe.  More importantly, she has never allowed a single career or hobby to limit her.  It makes me wonder what the results would be if she were able to take the “which Barbie are you” challenge.

~Susan Catterall~

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Ownership of Presentation Materials: Advice from “The Reference Desk”


“The Reference Desk” is a regular column featured in the AALL Spectrum.  The column below originally appeared in the September/October 2011 issue and is reprinted here with permission.

Q: Recently, I created a presentation on “Topic X” for a law library conference. Not long after that, a law librarian friend, who lives in another state, called me. She had just attended her own regional conference and heard a session on “Topic X” given by my coworker. My friend knew that I had recently prepared materials and lectured on “Topic X” and had expected to see or hear my name referenced, but did not.  I asked my co-worker about it, and she readily admitted that she had used my slides and handouts. I told her that I would have gladly consented to her using my materials but that I was disappointed that she hadn’t asked to do so or acknowledged my work. She responded that she didn’t need my permission. She claimed that as I had created the materials while at work, they didn’t belong to me. Is she right? I’m hurt and feel as if I can’t trust her.

A: I understand why you’re hurt and why you can’t trust your co-worker. However, whether she’s correct about ownership is another issue. Librarians, as a group, have been very generous, especially to one another. I’ve worked in academic and private law firm libraries, and my colleagues and I have swapped flash drives and PowerPoint slides as if we were trading baseball cards or Beanie Babies. Many of us, myself included, have been naïve and a little behind the times when it comes to educating ourselves regarding ownership. The presumption is that a creator holds the copyright, whether the copyright symbol is evident on the work or not. Therefore, at a minimum, your co-worker should have asked your permission to use your materials.

This presumption of ownership, however, could be rebutted by the particular policies that are in place at your institution. For example, academic institutions should have a copyright /intellectual policy addressing academic freedom and “works for hire.” The Copyright Act defines the latter as works created by individuals within the scope of their employment. Law firms may have similar policies in place, as well as disclosure policies, which govern the dissemination of confidential information, and disclaimer policies, which are often found on the firm’s website and which address the information located on the website. Works created by court and government employees could, but may not be, considered to be in the public domain. The burden is on us as employees to make the inquiry. There should be someone at your library who could provide the answer.

If our libraries don’t have these protections in place, we need to lobby for them. Librarians are resourceful. We can locate sample policies by researching the topic, by searching the websites of colleges and law firms, or by contacting experts among AALL members. We don’t have to stop sharing our materials; we simply need to become more prudent in doing so. I have often turned to my colleagues when responding to questions in this column. I rely on their collective wisdom and generosity. I recently spoke with Angela Secrest, director/LRC support for Houston Community College, who reminded me that librarians are teachers. We not only teach individuals how to research and retrieve information but we also instruct people how to use that information ethically. We educate patrons on how to correctly cite resources and how to provide appropriate attribution for the works and ideas of others. We lead by example. To quote her, “We don’t swipe other people’s stuff.” What happened to you illustrates the collision of law and ethics. We need to continue to hold ourselves to a high ethical standard. If we don’t, how can we expect others to do so?

~Susan Catterall~

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“Dear Karma, I have a list of people you’ve missed” (and other Tee-Shirt Tweets)

teeshirtI’ll be honest.  I don’t Tweet.  This has less to do with my reluctance to use social networking technology (although that may be part of it) and more to do with the fact that the text messages are limited to 140 characters.  Seriously?    Give me Fitzgerald over Hemingway any day.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the witty, often snarky turn-of-the-phrase as much as the next person. I realize, however, being someone who is challenged by having to answer a yes/no question without the embellishment of explanations or context, I won’t be uttering them.

Recently, I found myself flipping the pages of a SkyMall magazine and ran across two full pages of tee-shirts, each with its respective catchphrase.  It occurred to me that Twitter might be the next iteration of tee-shirt messaging.  (“Everything old is new again.”)  How different, really, is a tweet from tee-shirt “speak” or, for that matter, from a bumper sticker, cocktail napkin or coaster?  All require a fairly succinct message.  A tee-shirt encourages a following by immediately alerting others to our sports team preferences, fraternal association memberships, political affiliations and philosophical leanings.  Tee-shirt slogans also provide instantaneous entry into a private club with its own insider language and traditions. Two illustrations spring to mind.

I am, for example, a “Big Ten” girl living in North Carolina and whenever I catch sight of the golden Tiger Hawk logo emblazoned on someone’s shirt, I feel as if I’ve been reunited with family, or at least, with a fellow Hawkeye.  Secondly, not long ago I saw someone wearing an “Opera Carolina” tee-shirt which bore the phrase, “Is She Dead, Yet?” and recognized the joke shared by many opera fans.  (By the way, in case you didn’t know, most operas do not end well for the hero and heroine.)

So with no apologies, I’ve returned to the SkyMall pages and have included some of the slogans, including the one referenced in the title, which resonated with me.

                “If only closed minds came with closed mouths.”

                “It’s my cat’s world.  I’m just here to open cans”

                “Those who can teach; those who can’t pass laws about teaching.”

                “Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.”

                “Contrary to popular belief, no one owes you anything.”

                And, last, but not least, “I’m not a pessimist; I’m an optimist with experience.”

~Susan Catterall~

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Filed under Hidden Treasures, Librarians Can Be Fun Too

Dress Code Advice from “The Reference Desk”

Now that the Charlotte School of Law has relocated to the heart of the banking and legal services industry, it’s appropriate to address the topic of professional attire.

“The Reference Desk” is a regular column featured in the AALL Spectrum.  The column below originally appeared in the February 2011 issue and is reprinted here with permission.

Q: One of our reference librarians wears somewhat low-cut tops— not the plunging deep neckline type, but, still, when she leans over the reference desk to help a patron, she shows a lot of cleavage. I fear she doesn’t realize that in leaning forward she leaves her personal space and enters the patron’s personal space, thus potentially creating the impression she’s flirting with him. I don’t know how to tell her.

A: I understand why you have reservations. Clothing is a personal expression and commenting on another’s fashion choices can be a sensitive subject.  With the move toward “business casual,” most formal dress codes have gone by the wayside. The ones that remain often address bare arms (no sleeveless tops) and bare feet (no opentoed shoes) and therefore aren’t much help in this instance.

What’s also gone by the wayside is the “Bunny Dip.” I never thought that in these days and within our profession I would invoke Hugh Hefner, but even Gloria Steinem and Barbara Walters, for purposes of their respective journalist assignments, mastered the move. For those who are too young to know what the “Bunny Dip” is, it’s a bow executed primarily with the legs, rather than the waist. With shoulders thrown back and the spine straight, the waitress would bend at the knees while serving customers and was able to keep her “personal space” to herself.

All that aside, I commend you for wanting to find an appropriate way to discuss this matter. You assume that your colleague is unaware of the impression she is creating. I would further presume that she would like to know what view she is providing and remedy it, just as most people would like to know if something is unbuttoned that needs to be buttoned, unzipped that should be zipped, or caught somewhere (for example, a skirt caught in the waist band of pantyhose) that shouldn’t be caught somewhere. The trick lies in finding a diplomatic way to tell the individual.

I’m making a second assumption that this woman is your colleague and not someone you supervise. The best way to address this would be to do it privately, person to person. Keep your tone light and possibly put it in the context of what I referenced above, i.e., “If your dress were unbuttoned in the back, I think you would want to know, so…” If you aren’t comfortable being the messenger, determine whether there is someone on the staff to whom you could turn.  Her best friend in the workplace? A female supervisor? An “older” woman who could offer her some “big sister” advice?) I think you would be doing her a favor by telling her.

I wanted to provide a second opinion, so I’ve contacted Linda G. Will, owner of Will Legal Resources, and asked for her advice. Linda has been not only the director of major law firm libraries but has also worked as a consultant with major legal firms, court and government libraries, and legal information vendors.

According to Will: “In all seriousness, Susan has covered all the bases. If the woman in discussion is a colleague, you truly need to address the situation in a different manner than if she is a supervised staff member. The conundrum is that with all the new ‘casual Fridays,’ which have bled over into all the other days of the week, where do you draw the line (or the neck line so to speak)? By the way, do any male staff who interact with the public keep their shirts unbuttoned a notch too low? Taking a canvass before ‘the talk’ would be a precaution so that no one is being singled out.

“Maybe this would require an entire staff conversation in which dress code can be addressed in a more global fashion. I believe that discussing the image being used to market the research center should be positive. This image should project scholarship, authority, and of course reliability. You need to not just set an image as a department, but as a profession. This is truly essential for firm and court libraries, which are going through difficult staffing times. Staffing positions are becoming almost a privilege.”

~Susan Catterall~

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