At Minneapolis Central, part of the Hennepin County Library system, 2011 was pretty much business as usual again. I continued to do my “patent talk” once a month. Attendance is smaller (4-5 people) now than when I started do it back in 1994 (12-15 people), but those that do attend tell me it’s been very helpful and a great place to start with the patenting process.
We also continued to partner with a LegalCORPS, a group that provides free legal assistance to eligible small businesses and non-profits, to present a quarterly class “Traps and Pitfalls in Intellectual Property” lead by a patent attorney.
LegalCORPS formed a unique program with the USPTO for low-income inventors. It’s the first-of-its-kind program in the country. USPTO Director David Kappos, while visiting the Twin Cities, was impressed with the dedication of the local IP community and got the program off the ground. As people discover it I’m sure it will increase traffic to the library.
The theme of National History Day for 2011-2012 is “Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History”. Hennepin County Library has several “History Day Hullabaloos” between December and March each year where the students can confer with volunteers from the Minnesota Historical Society and University of Minnesota students to help them develop their topics. Each year I remind them how patents can be used at primary sources for their topics if appropriate. This year I helped students find patents for pacemakers, typewriters and Mercedes-Benz autos among others.
A thanks goes to my supervisor, Helen Burke, who fields the more difficult patent questions in my absence. She always makes sure I have the time to do my duties as a PTRC representative. During 2011 my colleague Carrie Brunsberg, who also tackled patent and tm questions, took a new position at a community library. Now, instead of patent talks she does story times for children.
At the 2011 Training Seminar I was elected Vice President of PTDLA.