Law Librarian Ellie Campbell Wins Prestigious Paul Ganz Publication Award

June 29, 2024

UNC School of Law is proud to announce that Ellie Campbell, clinical associate professor of law and reference librarian at the Kathrine R. Everett Law Library, has been awarded the prestigious Paul Ganz Publication Award by the American Association of Law Libraries RIPS-SIS Grants and Awards Committee for her article, “Critical Legal Research, Artificial Intelligence, and Systemic Racism: Teaching with Jim Crow Text-Mining”.

Campbell’s article examines the benefits of using the On the Books project, a text-mining initiative by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill libraries to identify racially based laws passed in the state between 1865 and 1967, as a teaching tool in her Advanced Legal Research class. The module focused on critical legal research, artificial intelligence, and legal analytics, providing students with valuable insights into the structures of legal research and the legacies of racism in the American legal system.

Reflecting on the potential impact of her work, Campbell hopes that her article will raise awareness about the On the Books project and its significance in understanding the pervasive nature of legal segregation. “I don’t think that we currently understand how all-encompassing legal segregation was; it was not just separate schools or water fountains or sitting in the back of the bus, it was an entire legal framework that governed every aspect of society. Though some laws have been repealed, other aspects of that system remain with us, and the project really highlights that fact and gives us tools to better understand it.”

Additionally, Campbell stresses the importance of critical legal research skills and understanding AI and legal analytics for aspiring law librarians. She notes that these concepts help researchers recognize the limitations of current legal information systems and encourages them to think beyond those limitations.

Her innovative approach to teaching critical legal research and commitment to addressing systemic racism through projects like On the Books illustrate law librarians’ pivotal role in shaping legal education’s future. By receiving the Paul Ganz Publication Award, Campbell has set a new standard for excellence in legal research instruction and has inspired the Carolina Law community to critically examine the legal system’s historical and ongoing impact on marginalized communities.

In addition to her research and teaching, Campbell encourages the Carolina Law community to engage with the library and take advantage of its wide range of resources and services. “Everyone is welcome in the library. We do more than provide access to databases, we have study aids and other class materials, we teach legal research classes, we help students brainstorm paper topics and start research projects, we support faculty research, we provide access to materials for attorneys, we help public patrons, and much, much more.”