The 2016 Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals Summit – It’s Time to Make a Strategic Impact


by Jeremy Sullivan, Manager Library Research Services at DLA Piper LLP and Co-Chair of PLLIP Summit

Private law librarians and information professionals have a long history of bringing new technologies and processes into their organizations, with an eye to enhancing service and improving client support. From the early adoption of online research platforms, to the implementation of knowledge management solutions, and through the manipulation and repurposing of big data, information professionals have a proven track record of providing practical and innovative solutions.

The question that the PLLIP Summit will strive to answer is “What’s next?” Now in its sixth year, the 2016 PLLIP Summit has the goal of taking what we have done, what we know, and who we know and putting it all to strategic use in our organizations.

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5 Tips to Make Your Outreach Efforts Stick

Guest post by Michayla Sullivan, Bose McKinney & Evans, LLP, Knowledge & Research Services Specialist

As law firms continue to look for ways to cut budgets, it is important that all employees add value to their firm. Firm librarians can do this most efficiently by leveraging their research experience to assist attorneys on cases and business development. In order to provide this assistance, librarians must first persuade attorneys to send them research requests. In many firms, whether due to lack of awareness of the full scope of library services or forgetfulness of those services’ existence, many attorneys do not utilize their libraries’ research services as often as they could.

Firm librarians can address this under-utilization by conducting library outreach within their firms. There are several methods law firm librarians can use to gain and retain research requests that require little time from the attorney while maximizing the amount of attention gained for the library’s research services.

Stickiness of Everyday Promotional Materials

Every single item that passes through the library to an attorney is an opportunity for outreach. Thus, every routed current awareness publication, book delivered to an attorney’s office, and document written to an attorney that comes from your library should have a sticker containing the library’s interoffice contact information. The sticker message can directly call to attorneys to “Save time!” and “Send us your research questions!”

The stickers can be created using Canva, a free online tool for creating graphics, which can then be imported into a Word label template. Thereafter, simply print, peel, and stick the labels on as needed or add a digital image of the sticker to the footer of every email sent out. Doing so provides continuous and consistent library promotion, which may result in immediate research requests when the attorneys see the stickers reminding them of the information services offered. The value added from time spent on the research requests generated can more than make up for the initial time spent creating the stickers.

Occasional Promotional Materials

Utilizing promotional materials that require a little more time and attention from attorneys and distributing them on an occasional basis are another great way to promote services. Creating a flyer with longer descriptions of the types of research services provided and examples of actual research questions you’ve successfully addressed is another option. This helps provide attorneys with a better picture of the types of complex research handled.

Getting to Know You

Making yourself more visible will help your attorneys remember to use your services. A personal conversation about your research skills will often be more memorable than a flyer. Utilize interoffice mail delivery as little as possible and instead personally deliver items to the attorneys.

Given the large volume of materials that need to be delivered, it is not likely feasible to hand-deliver everything. Just do what time allows, and if the attorneys seem amenable to a little conversation when you make the deliveries, take the opportunity to talk to them about ways you can assist them with research, as conversations may reveal that attorneys are unaware of the variety of information needs with which you can help them.

Remember the Paralegals

It is not just attorneys who can benefit from your research services. When they do not have time to address a research need, attorneys will often push these tasks to their paralegals. Like attorneys, paralegals are often short on time. Librarians can help alleviate this burden by taking on some of their research tasks. Make special efforts to reach out to your paralegals and you will likely find they are pleased to hear how you can assist them. Value added to a paralegal’s work is also value added to the firm overall.

Put in the Time Again and Again

The above efforts require both time and repetition, as many attorneys may forget the research services offered even after they have used them. Given this never-ending time commitment, how can an already busy librarian find time for outreach? Just do what you can.

You do not have to deliver everything to every attorney in your office. Perhaps you can deliver only to attorneys you have not seen in a while. You do not have to create new stickers and flyers all the time. Just expend time creating them once and then occasionally refresh the design by making a few changes to the message. Only you can judge how much time to spend on outreach, because you know your law firm and its library best.


Collection management 2016: from anecdotal to analytic


By Sarah Lin, Library Systems Librarian at Reed Smith LLP

If you attended SLA’s recent Lawmaggedon webinar, you may have heard Jean O’Grady reference the term  ‘anecdata’ — usage data based on the anecdotal, in the absence of any hard (or soft) usage data.  I have seen the anecdotal trump data over the years: most notably a strong protest against a cancellation, only to find a thick layer of dust in front of the item in question.

Of course, our print collection continues to decline and so many technical services tasks now revolve around digital materials, but the physical books are still here.  When faced with competing budget priorities, how do you know what you can really cut?  I’d like to offer a few suggestions to discover real data regarding print usage.

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Contemplating a Name Change


Change:  A Constant Refrain

By Andrea K. Guldalian, Research Librarian at Duane Morris LLP

Over the years, American Association of Law Libraries’ members and presidents have ruminated on the growth and evolution of law librarianship, and on the internal and external forces affecting our profession.  These AALL advocates have called for the association’s members to look forward, to adapt, and to be proactive in addressing the challenges facing the legal information profession.  Law librarians answered that call by shapeshifting into knowledge managers, competitive intelligence professionals, information specialists, and research analysts, among other roles.  However, many of us maintain that, despite new titles and new roles, we are still essentially librarians, putting valuable and timeless librarian skills to good use organizing, finding, and disseminating information, regardless of format.

Have we finally reached the tipping point though?   In the face of all the changes, does the librarian name still properly convey all that we contribute to our organizations, and all the roles that our positions encompass?  Or are the cumulative changes to our profession so great that a new, broader name for our association is warranted?   Well-informed, reasonable minds will differ on this point, and American Association of Law Libraries members will have a chance to vote on a proposed name change beginning tomorrow, January 12, 2016.

As we mull over whether Association for Legal Information appropriately represents our soon-to-be 110-year-old association and its members, we thought it would be worth reviewing some of the myriad reflections on our ever-changing profession and professional environment.

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Keeping the Conversation Going: Session Summary from AALL 2015, In the Wake of the Kia Audit


As we get to the end of fall, it seemed timely to revisit associate and law student training topics discussed at this summer’s AALL Annual Meeting and see if anyone had implemented new associate training initiatives or new approaches to legal research classes this fall. The post about the Attorney Research Skills session is available here

By Debbie Ginsberg, Educational Technology Librarian at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law Library

“In the Wake of the Kia Audit,” a 2015 AALL session, focused on the importance of technology skills and training programs for law students and new lawyers, and on how librarians can be a part of the process. 

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