Going for gold!

London 2012 closing ceremony fireworks

Given that the London 2012 Olympics finished less than a week ago, it would be rather remiss of me not to write a post for the On Firmer Ground blog that wasn’t somehow tied to the Olympic games.

Most people I’ve spoken to or talked to via Twitter have agreed that the 2012 Olympic games were the first games where social media, especially Twitter has had a huge impact. Spectators, athletes and commentators have all been seen using it and encouraging others to do so. Whilst athletes were for the most part using Twitter to respond to words of encouragements from their followers, they were also using it to encourage their fellow team. This is evidenced by the fact that there was a substantial increase in the number of Team GB athletes who joined twitter during the games, 53% of the team were on Twitter before the games and 74% after. Several athletes also gained a significant number of followers, especially Jessica Ennis and Tom Daley, the latter overtaking Andy Murray as the Team GB athlete with the most Twitter followers.

However this post isn’t about the great performance by Team GB, as much as I’d like to write about their gold medal winning performances. This post is in fact about Law Librarians and Law Libraries, not just going for gold but (if you’ll excuse the high jump and pole vault pun) once they’ve won gold setting the bar high. So what do I mean by that?

Lets think about the Olympics for just a moment. For an athlete taking part in the Olympics winning a gold medal is the ultimate prize and testament to the hard work and long hours of training they’ve put in. So what’s the equivalent for a Law Librarian or Law Library? Unfortunately we cant win gold medals, but I’d argue that we can demonstrate our value by winning awards, and there are a number to choose from. In the UK for example we have the Halsburys Awards which are run in conjunction with Lexis Nexis.

These awards recognise and celebrate the performance and outstanding service provided by Law Libraries. For me they’re unique for two reasons, firstly because they’re the only awards in the UK that recognise the value and importance of legal information services and secondly the supporting nominations are not from the Law Library but from the users. So that might could be anyone using the service from a Trainee right up to a Partner. It’s this aspect of the awards that I believe makes them so unique and demonstrates our value.

Whilst winning an award is a fantastic achievement the work a Law Library has undertaken to that point shouldn’t stop there. Mo Farah wont stop running 200 miles a week just because he’s a double Olympic champion. He’ll continue to train and make improvements to his running style and fitness, which will over time help him win (we hope) even more gold medals.

Similarily once a Law Library has won an award and set the bar high they shouldn’t stop what they’ve been doing, yes there should be some time for reflection and celebration. But the Law Library should carry on making improvements to the service and working closely with their users, it’s what won them an award in the first instance. This can certainly be done and the previous winners list of the Halsburys Awards shows that several Law Firm Libraries have won an award twice.

Of course if your Law Library hasn’t won an award it doesn’t mean the work you do isn’t of value to the organisation. It absolutely is and that is something that I think we all need to recognise, what we do will continue to have huge value within the organisations we work for. Winning an award tells the world how great we are and is something that we can advertise to all. So what are you waiting for, start training, set the bar high, be prepared for a long run, and win gold!

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