Inaugural Diversity Summit Announced: From Difficult Conversations to Collaborative Action

Two American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) sections are joining together to offer a summit focused on diversity, and on putting words into action.

———————————————————————————————————————–The Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals (PLLIP) and Black Law Librarians (BLL) Special Interest Sections are excited to announce the inaugural Diversity Summit: From Difficult Conversations to Collaborative Action. The year 2020 was one of upheaval and change, but the year’s events made it obvious that serious and important conversations need to take place regarding race, both in the world and in our profession. PLLIP Summits have historically been a place to explore ways to embrace change and we are excited to partner with the BLL-SIS to launch the first ever Diversity Summit, which was created to facilitate these discussions in order to find a call to action in which we can all take part.

The Diversity Summit will be held as a virtual event on Friday, February 26, 2021. More details about the day’s programming and the keynote speaker, Michelle Silverthorn, will be forthcoming.

Keynote Speaker: Michelle Silverthorn

Michelle’s Tedx Talk, How to stop talking about implicit bias and start talking about race.

Authentic Diversity: How to Change the Workplace for Good

How to Register: Registration is limited to AALL members. To register for the 2021 Diversity Summit, please visit the AALL registration page here. Registration for members of BLL, PLLIP, and any other diversity caucus is $0.  There is a promo code available on the site that must be entered using the online payment form to get that price. All other registrations are $10. 

Please note that once you register for the 2021 Diversity Summit through AALL, you must then also register for the Zoom meeting, which is available via the thank you page and email.

Registration deadline is February 12, 2021 with zero exceptions.

Legal Information Professionals: The Next Generation

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 25, Number 2 (November/December 2020), pgs. 13-14.

By Toby Brown, Chief Practice Management Officer at Perkins Coie, LLP

Change, change, change. Blah, blah, blah. How many times can we hear that the legal industry is going through dramatic changes? Frankly, I lost count about five years ago.

For your convenience, I will not drag you through the typical recitation of how things are changing. Instead, I want to talk about how you can actually be an effective agent of change.

What is emerging in the industry are new roles for law firm information professionals that actually enable them to participate directly in the delivery of legal services to clients. By that, I mean that these are client-facing roles involved in reducing the cost of delivering legal services to clients.

Now that we’ve set the focus of the story, let’s step back to where it begins so you can look for ways to get involved in this new world.

It All Starts with Conversation

The pricing function at law firms can and should be focused on meeting client needs. At its highest level, this means talking with clients about their pricing pains and goals. Many times, these conversations are explorations, helping the client better understand which pricing approaches will bring them more value and make them look better internally.

Over time, these new pricing approaches have led firms to realize that investments in efficiency-driving processes and technology accrue to the firm’s bottom line.

Guess what? We have already arrived at the point where it becomes obvious that legal information professionals are in a great position to help meet these challenges. Let’s walk down a path for how this all might come together in a practical fashion. We will of course, start with a client.

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Leader Profile: Leading with Wisdom & Insight

Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 25, Number 1 (September/October 2020), pgs. 24-27.

Emily R. Florio assumed the role of president for the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) in July 2020.   According to AALL’s announcement, “Florio, whose term as president officially began at the conclusion of the organization’s first Virtual Conference on July 17, is currently senior research services manager at Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington, DC. She has been a member of AALL for 14 years…Florio is a former president of the Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, DC (LLSDC), member and former treasurer of the Private Law Librarians & Information Professionals Special Interest Section (PLLIP-SIS), and a member of the Professional Engagement, Growth & Advancement Special Interest Section (PEGA-SIS). Prior to becoming senior research services manager at Hogan Lovells US LLP in June 2019, Florio was director of library services/research & information services at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP.”

Emily R. Florio found herself on the path to law librarianship as many do, by accident. “My mom is a librarian, so I grew up familiar with public libraries and elementary school libraries,” notes Florio. “But when I was finishing library school, I was applying for a job—any, any, any job—and I ended up in a law firm and haven’t looked back.” She became a member of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) in January 2006 and has since been very active on committees, special interest sections, and within her local chapter. In her new role as president, she hopes to continue to move the legal information profession forward, to increase engagement with members, and to bring new librarians into the profession. She further plans to grow AALL’s eLearning platform, as well as to provide members with the right education and tools to become leaders within the profession.

In 2004, Florio received her BA in English from the University of Vermont before moving to Boston, Massachusetts, where she obtained her MLS degree from Simmons College. Her first official, though not professional, job was at a small law school in Boston doing interlibrary loan and document delivery, while she worked toward her degree. She began her career in Boston at Fish & Richardson, where she held various positions, resulting in the manager of libraries and library information systems role. “It’s funny, I think probably a year and a half in I was looking for other work because I was bored,” said Florio. “But my boss at the time started giving me other opportunities that were far more interesting and allowed me to learn and continue on. And that led to my first promotion. After a while it was time to move on from that firm and that’s when I moved to DC.” She then moved to Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP, an intellectual property firm, as the manager of library services, before expanding her role into directing all aspects of the research team, including budgeting, staffing, and training, along with leading the firm’s intranet redesign project. She then became director of library services/research and information services before moving to her latest role in July 2019. Florio is currently senior research services manager at Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington, DC, a global top 10 law firm, where she leads the implementation of the global Research Services strategy within the Americas. She has been a member of AALL for 14 years and has served on several committees, including chair of the Appointments Committee and Executive Board Strategic Directions Committee, and as a member of the Executive Board Finance & Budget Committee. In addition, Florio is a former president of the Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, DC (LLSDC), a member and former treasurer of the Private Law Librarians & Information Professionals Special Interest Section (PLLIPSIS), and a member of the Professional Engagement, Growth & Advancement Special Interest Section (PEGA-SIS). In 2015, she received AALL’s Emerging Leader Award. Here, Florio discusses her goals for the coming year, how COVID-19 has impacted her professionally, and how she stays engaged within the profession.

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Providing Career Growth at All Levels of the Library

By Allison C. Reeve Davis, Library Manager, Littler Mendelson

Reposted with permission from PEGA-SIS Blog.

Three years ago, we started discussing ways to provide career growth opportunities in Littler Mendelson’s library. As our library grows, new positions are often entry-level. Promotions to more advanced positions come along less frequently, even when a dedicated employee has learned, grown, and proven their skills for advancement. Here, we provide tactics for retaining valued employees and offering career growth, even without the availability of senior librarian positions.

The Problem

Over the years, law librarians have expressed concern and discouragement with the lack of senior librarian positions available in the job market. The danger for managers and directors is that they will lose their best talent to senior positions open at other institutions. Effective leaders provide their staff with professional development opportunities, challenging projects, and rewards for succeeding in career growth. Finding a solution to the conundrum of limited promotional opportunities for rising star librarians requires creativity and assessment of the library’s goals in advancement of the firm’s mission.

The Solution

Career advancement opportunities will look different at every institution. Our project may not fit everyone’s needs exactly, but the foundations hopefully provide all library leaders with a jumping off point.

Evaluation of current roles and the skills and tasks necessary to complete them is the first step. We looked at projects and tasks completed by all of our Assistant and Research Librarians and listed out the requisite skills employed. This was accomplished thinking in terms of job descriptions. For example, familiarity with legal research databases allows librarians to pull requested documents and train users on using the tools. Expertise with legal information sources expands the research and analysis capabilities necessary for a librarian to perform advanced legal research projects.

With all of the library’s work laid before us, we identified projects that wouldn’t necessarily require the expertise of a Research Librarian but that need expertise beyond an early-career employee. Those we designated as mid-level, or transitional skills: ones attained after an Assistant Librarian has mastered more than entry-level skills, but when they do not have enough experience to move into a more senior position. We also evaluated the extraordinary projects and contributions of Research Librarians, asking ourselves what it looks like when a Research Librarian has performed beyond their job description.

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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.