Jul 24, 2008

Losing A Friend: ‘The Virtual Chase’

2 Comments · Posted by Robert Ambrogi in General

I’ve repeated this story enough times that I’m no longer sure it is even true: Way back in 1995, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries, we introduced volume one, number one, of legal.online, the first-ever newsletter about how lawyers could use the Internet. And as we stood there in the exhibit hall, the first librarian to come by and actually purchase a subscription on the spot was Genie Tyburski, a law librarian at Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll in Philadelphia.

Not long after, Genie launched The Virtual Chase, a site devoted to teaching legal professionals about legal research — particularly online legal research. As I wrote of the launch in my book, The Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web, she “quickly made it a top destination for legal researchers.” In the book, I gave The Virtual Chase five stars, my highest rating.

So it was as if I was losing an old friend when I read Genie’s announcement, posted on the front page of her site, that she would be closing The Virtual Chase. Here is what she wrote:

“To paraphrase Shakespeare, the inaudible and noiseless foot of time passes almost without notice. Indeed, the past 12 years, spent writing about research strategies and resources, flew by in no small part because of the fun I had doing it. Yet change is the essence of the times, making 12 years rather a long stretch.

“Saying goodbye is never easy. I’ve enjoyed the generous support of Ballard Spahr for my creative endeavors. I’ve received much encouragement over the years from the legal community. My peers have kindly awarded my efforts.

“But the demands of managing a Web site increasingly took me away from my first love — providing library and research services to lawyers. Now I have an opportunity to return to working closely with Ballard Spahr’s lawyers and library staff. Starting today, I will be library manager, overseeing all services and assisting the director of the library.

“While the decision to close The Virtual Chase was not made lightly, I’m convinced it’s the best choice for both the firm and me. I will take down the site gradually over the next several months unless I find someone willing to archive it or continue its development. I anticipate that the site will be completely offline by no later than May 2009 (and quite possibly, sooner) except in the event of a new owner.”

Over the years since that first meeting with Genie in 1995, I’ve come to consider her a friend and her site an invaluable resource. I wish her the best in her new position, but I’ll be sorry to see The Virtual Chase go.

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