Take the Start/Stop Poll: What Did You Start or Stop in 2013?

Submitted by Jean O’Grady, Library Director at DLA Piper

The Poll: Please take the brief (10 question) Start/Stop 2013/2014 Poll

I am a big believer in new beginnings. The dawn of a New Year always provides a good excuse to hit the “pause button” and reassess my trajectory both personally and professionally. I started 2014 with a good omen – being bumped up to first class on my first flight of the year. I will add it to my “good luck” inventory of the year – a list which I consult in those inevitable moments of psychic whiplash.

Knowing When to Stop. I am a big fan of Jim Collins author of the business classic “Good to Great.”

stoplight

He counsels that deciding what to STOP doing is as important as the projects which we START. It is so easy to continue doing things – because we have always done them. But managing change involves risk. You may take some heat when you stop or radically alter a service… it’s part of the job.

Decades ago I took one bold leap into the future. I decided to stop sending law reviews to the bindery. It was after most current law reviews were on Lexis and Westlaw but before the full archives and images appeared in HeinOnline. I could no longer in good conscience spend the firm’s money and staff time on this legacy ritual that was creating gilded buckram volumes destined for the dumpster within a few years. OK I can hear the snickers – what’s the big deal? Well I was at a rather …”scholarly/nerdy” law firm at the time – lawyers even wanted us to bind their private sets of law reviews from their alma mater… so my decision did raise some eyebrows. I was later reviled for suggesting that we should stop delivering the daily newspapers to every lawyers office (redundant, inefficient, not green.)

shepards volumes

I was pilloried for suggesting that the associates no longer looked at Shepard’s in print – a notion which I tested by putting rubber bands around all the volumes – to prove that this work had all moved online. But to the partners Shepard’s Citator volumes were so iconic that practicing law without these books was unthinkable. So we also have the unenviable task of building consensus around our changes. Luckily the “Great Recession” has had a remarkable impact on making lawyers more amenable to change, especially if you can show them the dollar signs. But there is no question you need to choose your battles, prepare carefully and assess the impact on lawyers – your clients when you introduce change.

Deliver More Value. The speed with which old processes and assumptions become obsolete is accelerating. We can only deliver more value by eliminating or streamlining the routine, the redundant and the unexamined.

The Wisdom of Colleagues. In the spirit of collecting the wisdom of colleagues, I thought it would be interesting to do a poll on what we started or stopped in 2013 and on what we plan to start or stop in 2014. What products did we stop using? what new ones will we adopt in 2014?

The Poll: Please take the brief (10 question) Start/Stop 2013/2014 Poll

The Survey will remain open until January 15th and I will report on the results. Thanks in advance to all participants.

Wrapping up 2013.

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Kate Greene Stanhope, Manager Library & Information Services, McInnes Cooper

 2013 is winding down and planning for 2014 well underway. Historically, end of year was the natural time to evaluate departmental performance and set new goals. However, in 2013, we seemed to be doing this weekly – daily sometimes. Our small Library and Information Services group has moved away from the emphasis on library as a physical space and is focussed on the information services that add value to our firm’s business. Research advisory and reference services are still in high demand, though their value is diminishing in the eyes of some. The recent transition to a sole source environment for online research has resulted in increased requests for assistance finding material previously available at our fingertips. This is not a bad thing, but achieving balance between active participation in firm knowledge and information management projects and availability for “just in time” research is challenging.

So, as I contemplate my 2014 Business Plan, I reached out to colleagues in other Canadian firms. They shared their thoughts on what kept them busy this year and what 2014 might look like. A few common themes emerged.

 Beyond legal research – The intersection of library and marketing:

More law libraries are collaborating with marketing, whether formally or informally, to lend expertise in the areas of Competitive and Business Intelligence. In the past year, our L&IS group has worked with Marketing to produce client and industry profiles and we foresee this continuing. Currently, we are trialling an online research product that will enhance our ability to turn these requests around more efficiently and without sacrificing detail (I learned a lot about CI in law firms at the CALL 2013 conference at a session moderated by Agathe Bujold of McCarthy Tetrault).  

 April Brousseau, Assistant Director, Library and Knowledge Management at Stikeman Elliot, shared that her group works closely with Stikeman’s marketing department to provide in depth company and industry research, and assists in the preparation of related materials for RFPs. Another colleague from a smaller firm notes that marketing related work now approaches 50% of his time and includes input into the use of social media, assisting in the creation and editing of visual advertising, and even assisting with the creation of individual lawyer strategic business plans.  Although this work often gets set aside when a lawyer requires research assistance, he delegates some research to students when things are really tight.

 KM for Library & Information Services  

Legal information professionals continue to drive Knowledge Management within firms, but KM practices have relevance in helping us manage our internal know-how, specifically the collective knowledge amassed in the provision of research and reference services. Leveraging this knowledge through identification, classification, and retrieval of “frequently asked questions” can free up time to devote elsewhere. April’s group at Stikeman’s plans to enhance the database of reference question responses they maintain and my group continues to improve our use of Outlook categories to profile reference answers.  We are also looking for better ways to capture metrics about the kinds of questions we receive and the resources used to answer them (See Eve Ross and Bess Reynolds’ presentations Library Metrics and Metrics 101: Proving Your Value for detailed discussions of the value of metrics for information professionals).

 Prominent Roles in KM and Technology Projects

Fellow Nova Scotia law librarians Linda Matte (Library Manager, Cox and Palmer) and Cyndi Murphy, (Knowledge Manager, Stewart McKelvey and current CALL Past President) devoted significant time this year to projects which introduced new technologies to their lawyers practices.

 The cost of updating of print versions of Civil Procedure Rules (CPR’s) is a significant line item in many library budgets. With 30 subscriptions to manage, Linda sought to reduce these costs while still providing current, convenient access to this information. She investigated the use of iPad’s to access CPR’s and discovered that pdf versions of the rules, freely available online, don’t require wifi to use after they’ve been download. She tested the $5 GoodReader app to manage content (bookmarks, notes, highlighting), and found it to be very effective. The pilot project was optional and was implemented over 11 month, with an initial trial group of 10 lawyers. It was a success from the start and as word spread Linda eventually had 100% buy in, with savings approaching $18,000 by 2014.

 When Stewart McKelvey decided to deploy Recommind’s Decisiv Email Management software to better manage e-mail volume, Cyndi was a key member of the implementation team, along with a project manager, technical advisor, and a member of the Stewart McKelvey IT staff (a consultant was retained to assist with the planning and change management aspects of the project because of its impact on lawyer practices). Reporting to the Chief Professional Resources Officer, who was actively involved in the roll-out, Cyndi took the lead on liaising with the IT trainers to compile one-page handouts on the filing and searching features of Decisiv, created the portal page dedicated to Decisiv, and worked with the trainers to populate it. When Decisiv was rolled out to users throughout the firm, she assisted in conducting training sessions. Cyndi acknowledged that it was difficult at times to balance the demands of the project with her day to day work, especially with the travel required to the firm’s other offices. But, support from her staff and recognition from the firm of the role she played in the success of the project contributed to personal and professional gratification.

 Looking ahead, the dynamic nature of the work we do as Legal Information Professionals will probably be reflected in the changing composition of our groups. At Lawson Lundell, an innovative, team approach is described in the advertisement for a new position, Manager of Information Resources.  And, in 2014, my group will welcome the firm’s Conflict and Audit Coordinators as we become more involved in the life cycle of information within the firm, from new business intake to closed file management, and everything in between.

 Now, if I can just get that Business Plan done before Christmas Eve . . .

 

 

Renaming the Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section (PLL-SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL)

self-imagepost authored by Michael Ginsborg, Reference Librarian, Arnold & Porter LLP

In the Devil’s Dictionary, Ambroise Bierce (re)defines “lawyer” as “one skilled in circumvention of the law.” If Bierce were our authority in the matter, it would seem that a law firm librarian aids in circumventions of law. But as the Devil’s Dictionary makes clear, certain identifications carry a host of associations, whether or not within standard use. Given changes in our profession, what we call ourselves has become a renewed subject of interest.

In 2009, members of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) considered a change in name to the “ Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals” (ASKPro). The proposal was the result of extensive research by SLA. Although SLA members did not adopt the change, proponents advanced compelling reasons for it. They found that “libraries” no longer adequately represented the range and variety of their skills and careers, now often pursued without library affiliation. As a result, continued identification with libraries failed to convey their unique “strategic” value to their employers and clients. The SLA Board offered the proposed rebranding to more clearly communicate this value..

Jean O’Grady, PLL-SIS Chair, recently announced that the PLL Board will examine the merits of renaming our PLL-SIS, and the Board discussed the issue in the October 23rd Law Librarian Conversations. Jean advances equally compelling reasons in the context of law firms. First, PLL’s use of the word “libraries” reveals nothing specific about we do. PLL members provide a wide array of services, including “Competitive Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Knowledge Management, records, docket, web development, and other emerging digital roles.” As Jean observes, our roles have radically changed, reflecting “seismic” shifts in the legal industry. “Librarian” and “libraries” fail to convey how our new responsibilities and skills serve the goals of our law firm or corporate employers and clients.

Second, law firms with libraries are rapidly reducing their print collections and “embedding” librarians in practice groups. In fact, at least one AmLaw 100 firm has no print collection, and smaller firms, like this one, have done likewise. Available data – as in this presentation by Bess Reynolds – clearly show an accelerating trend toward digitization. So it can be persuasively argued that changed circumstances warrant a new organizational name without the reductive and outdated connotations of “libraries” and “librarians.” Carol Ottolenghi describes a familiar connotation in her article about naming those we serve as clients. If called “patrons,” some users “initially think of us as ‘clerks who like books.’” Changing PLL’s name could also help reverse such unwelcome perceptions.

The PLL Board has invited us to offer our comments. I find myself rather conflicted over the Board’s proposal, in much the same way that one SLA member said she was over ASKPro. Why? On the one hand, law firm clients and attorneys will continue to misunderstand what we do if we bill our time as librarians – a point that Jean makes in the Law Librarian Conversations program. On the other hand, the symbolism of “libraries” and “librarians” still matters. Indeed, it has assumed greater importance in our era of digital transformation. Among senses in which we still “like the books,” we believe copyrighted works deserve the widest dissemination among our clients. The words “libraries” and “librarian” suggest that we care about sharing resources and expertise, and maintaining a right of access as close to ownership as possible. They suggest that we favor the continuing availability of interlibrary loans and that we oppose digital licensing restrictions impairing access rights. And they suggest that we belong to a collective enterprise that sustains the indispensable benefits of these unique forms of sharing and preservation for future use.

My ambivalence has no ideal remedy. The nearest approximation to a remedy falls consideration short, but I cannot think of a better alternative than to offer a “hybrid” idea for rebranding. For example, the name “Private Law Librarians and Allied Knowledge Professionals” (PLLAKPro) comes perilously close to sounding like a Dickensian Office of Circumlocution. Whatever name emerges, perhaps PLL-SIS can accommodate a hybrid, emphasizing the primacy of librarians, so that we can continue to signal the ideals of librarianship.

MOOCS: What’s in it for law librarians?

Katie Thomas, Law Librarian, Toronto, Canada

Web: http://katiemthomas.wordpress.com

 “With a MOOC MOOC here,

And a MOOC MOOC there,

Here a MOOC, there a MOOC,

Everywhere a MOOC MOOC…” *

 Law librarians have many options for professional development opportunities. Annual conferences, meet-up groups, webinars, twitter chats, and collaborating with colleagues are just some of the eclectic ways we can keep our ear to the ground. But what about MOOCs (massive open online courses)? What’s in it for librarians or better yet, law librarians? I thought I would find out.

 What’s a MOOC? The idea has been well covered in the professional press and I encourage you to plug the term into your favourite search engine.  As a starter, you may want to read Susan Munro’s piece entitled MOOC, Distance Education and CLE or Judith Gaskell’s MOOCs: What are they good for?, both posted on SLAW.

 This post focuses on the professional development opportunities offered through MOOCs for librarians. I am not so much interested (at least just now!) in how librarians can provide support for MOOC learning to our clients and students as a considerable amount has already been written in this area, especially in the academic librarian literature. And, as Susan Munro and others have pointed out, there is no lack of topics to address. Quality of the educational experience, student engagement, student-teacher interaction, the business model behind the phenomenon and librarian support for the MOOC are just some of the issues that can be explored. 

 So where to start? Well, that’s the thing. There is no “official” place to start looking for MOOCs, never mind just the “librarian-ish” courses. Yes, you can plug the term library, librarian, information, metadata, legal etc. into any of the MOOC websites like Coursera or edX, but expect mixed results.  An aggregator such as ClassCentral helps, but it does not pull some of the iSchool courses I will describe below.

 I began with the article entitled MOOCs to Watch written by librarian Courtney Brown. She provided a helpful list of courses that would be of interest to librarians. They are primarily technology related such as Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps.

 iSchool MOOCs which have received rave reviews (based on the website comments and speaking with colleagues who have enrolled) include the New Librarianship Master Class open online course taught by Dave Lankes at the Syracuse University iSchool. Professor Lankes writes that “Through this course, [librarians] will learn how to better capture, store, and disseminate the conversations of their communities.” The videos, slides, readings, and structure have remained available for free on the website but you will first need to register with the provider COURSEsites. By the way, the first MOOC offered at the iSchool was A Brief Introduction to Data Science with R and a second is planned for autumn 2013 entitled Applied Data Science: An Introduction.

 Over at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Dr. Pomerantz at the School of Information and Library Science has been teaching the MOOC, Metadata: Organizing and Discovering Information, again to rave reviews. It is being offered again for the fall of 2013.

Then there is the Hyperlinked Library MOOC at San Jose State University SLIS, which explores how libraries are using emerging technologies to serve their communities. Last I checked, the course had reached its full capacity of 400 students! It is clearly filling a niche for professional development for librarians.

In Canada, Wendy Newman at the University of Toronto iSchool is very excited to be offering, in the winter of 2014, a MOOC on Library Advocacy through edX.  She says, “The MOOC description is not yet fully confirmed, [however]…it is a 6-session adaptation for a wider audience of my regular credit course.” Keep your ear to the ground for further updates.

And what of MOOCs for law librarians? I did not find any that were purposely geared to law and librarians. There are courses on environmental law, criminal law, English common law, constitutional law and more. I think Wendy Reynolds raises a good point when she surmises in a comment on SLAW that, “I also wonder about the value of MOOCs in helping librarians gain exposure to other disciplines and emerging ideas. Are employers willing to treat these programs as “real” learning? Does it matter?” We should be exploring new ideas and thinking outside our box. So yes, as to MOOCs, there’s lots “in it” for law librarians.

Finally, if MOOCs have caught your fancy, you could attend the symposium Pushing the Envelope in Education: Roles for Libraries — MOOCs, eLearning & Gamification taking place in Toronto from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, 2013 at the University of Toronto. A session on MOOCs for Librarians will cover how to plan and implement a MOOC for the library community. Also, you may want to follow up on any archived materials available from two previous conferences MOOCs and Libraries: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (July 2013, London, UK) and MOOCs and Libraries:  Massive Opportunity or Overwhelming Challenge? (March 2013, Philadelphia, PA).

In researching this paper, I found that the only MOOCs being offered, at least through iSchools, are those that are described above. If there are any I’ve missed please let me know! It would be great to see more. It would also be good to have a repository listing of iSchool MOOCs somewhere. Is this being done? Lots to think about. I think I hear a follow-up article being written!

*With sincerest apologies to Old MacDonald.

Are Law Librarians Experiencing a Self-Image Crisis?

self-image

Kreig Kitts, Reference Librarian at Crowell & Moring LLP (kkitts@crowell.com)

How often does this happen: Checking your email in the morning, you see that a colleague has endorsed you on LinkedIn. With great excitement – level of excitement may vary, depending whether you’ve had breakfast and coffee yet – you open the email, and your excitement dies down. Once again, you’ve been endorsed for your most mundane skills – your ability to use a product. Interlibrary loan? Copy cataloging? PACER? Is this what you’re known for? Is this what you want to be known for? If you answered “no” to that last question, then why are you advertising it on your profile?

Librarians everywhere have been going through a self-image crisis lately. A few years ago, the Special Libraries Association had a members’ referendum on changing the name to take out the word “Library”. This year in Seattle, the theme for the American Association of Law Libraries annual meeting and conference was “Reconsider Your Value” (a double-edged sword of a theme if ever there was one). Especially in the private sector, many librarians have had their titles changed, sometimes at their own request, to “competitive analyst”, “information specialist”, and other variations to try to shake up the perception that they’re clerical workers. Professional credentials work their way into email signatures, because when in doubt “Chris J. Doe, M.L.S., J.D., M.B.A., C.K.M.” is sure to impress.

So back to LinkedIn, the platform on which we list our professional skills. Due to my frustration at getting endorsed over and over for my ability to use a resource, and I don’t mean something kind of cool like using a Bloomberg terminal or really cool like a Taco Copter, I took action. With a bit of housekeeping out went Lexis, Westlaw, Pacer, Interlibrary Loan, and pretty much anything else that was on an exam during my first year of library school. In went Company Profiling, Competitor Intelligence, and many other valuable things I do and for which I prefer to be known.

LinkedIn makes it easy to edit your skills at http://www.linkedin.com/skills. You can even find skills with certain keywords, and better yet, related skills. For reference librarians, you probably perform in-depth company research, either for competitive purposes, due diligence, or litigation. If you don’t already analyze the information, you might start and then add it to your LinkedIn skills. For technical services and acquisitions librarians, look at your involvement in budgeting or user experience design. Look at yourself, your work, and your value, and look at how you can best showcase it.

Moreover, LinkedIn is not just for job networking. Have you connected with people at your firm? With professional colleagues who are involved in programming? Professors from library school or law school who might be looking for guest speakers? You don’t need to be “on the market” to benefit from putting your best professional face forward.

And once you start changing how you describe yourself in one area, you might start doing it elsewhere. When people learn you’re a librarian and say “so you organize the books” or “you do research”, maybe you’ll reply “I also perform corporate research and analysis”.

I already hear the objections as I type this. “We do this already. We need to educate our users about what librarians do.” If you’re altruistic, then consider this part of the education. If you’re not altruistic, then consider this a way to educate people about what you do.

This isn’t just about jazzing up a profile so everybody will think you’re amazing. Going past the general buzzwords takes some reflection, not only about the kind of professional you are, but the kind of professional you want to be. If you haven’t given that much thought, now might be the time to think about it. Plot a course of action, and determine where you are now and where you want to ultimately be. What do you do? What do you do well? What do you do really well? What are you known for? And most importantly, what do you want to be known for?