Archive for the 'Communication' Category

The Value of Law Librarians

Law librarians know the value of law librarians, even when they struggle to articulate that value to others. It pleases us when someone aptly describes what we do; and it satisfies even more when that praise comes from a user. One such example comes from Judy Zimet, a law student coach, in a post, “All Hail the Law School Library Staff” on her blog.

Along that line, the next two issues of Spectrum will publish hybrid articles about helping law students understand the value of law librarians and how to most effectively exploit them. The July issue has Jennifer Pesetsky’s “Preparing students to be effective lawyers with a good understanding of research tools” and then in the September/October issue Jennifer Pesetsky follows up with “Preparing students to be effective lawyers with a good understanding of research tools.”


Highlights from the HALL Newsletter, March/April 2012

The March/April issue of the HALL Newsletter, the publication of the Houston Area Law Librarians, has recently been published. In addition to announcements and meeting minutes, the newsletter features how several Houston law libraries celebrated National Library Week this past April. Also featured is customer service advice from consultant JoAnna Brandi. In order to become and stay preferred by their customers (or patrons), Brandi urges businesses (or libraries) to continually practice being present with their customers and completely focus on their relationships, creating positive impressions for customers, and display patience to ensure customers’ goals are achieved. Brandi suggests these characteristics will lead to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Highlights from LLAW Briefs, Spring 2012

The Spring 2012 issue of LLAW Briefs, the publication of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin, has a number of interesting items. Especially notable is a review of the Library Technology Conference. Several sessions focused on methods of delivering library resources via mobile device—such as QR codes and mobile-optimized sites—and another discussed cataloging emerging technologies, like interactive e-books.

Another article notes that the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act may be introduced in the Wisconsin legislature in the near future. The AALL Government Relations Office and many members have taken an active role in promoting the adoption of UELMA. Finally, LLAW sponsored a law librarian career day for students and alumni from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The event enabled prospective law librarians to meet practicing librarians and tour court and firm law libraries.

Highlights from the MALL Newsletter, Spring 2012

The latest issue of the Minnesota Association of Law Libraries’ MALL Newsletter contains a number of announcements. Most notably, the Publications Committee is beginning a project to update a history of MALL and collect oral histories from both long-time and new members. This project is in preparation for MALL’s 60th anniversary in 2015. The Publications Committee also produces two online resources, A Guide to Major Law Library Collections in the Twin Cities and the Internet Guide for Minnesota Legal Reference.

A column on upcoming events lists a number of interesting professional development opportunities, including National Information Standards Organization webinars on acquiring and preserving e-books and making sense of usage statistics. The Association of College and Research Libraries is also holding webinars on virtual reference services and improving Google Scholar indexing of institutional repositories.

Law Library Lectionary

For additional background see my July column. The law library lectionary (LLL) provides a weekly outline for outreach activities:

  1. Teaching topics;
  2. Marketing tidbits about the library;
  3. Elevator speech topics;
  4. Messages for executives/decision makers in the parent organization;
  5. Scheduled events related to law libraries or.

Each week has a theme and each outreach activity touches on that theme. For example, National Library Week, the new term of the Supreme Court, Law Day, AALL annual meeting, income tax filing, significant events related to legal bibliography or research like the first treatise, reporter, regional reporter, legal encyclopedia, loose-leaf service, citator, etc.

Expanding on the outreach activities

  • Teaching topics suggest topics for presentations that last from 5 to 55 minutes about new research tools, new features, integrating technology in workflow, time management, analyzing results and websites for quality and currency, how to conduct and participate in a reference interview, leveraging library resources, etc.
  • Marketing tidbits cover factoids to share, questions to solicit information needs, content for blogs, newsletters, etc.
  • Elevator speeches for those 15 to 30 second opportunities to answer: ”what’s new in the library?” with suggestions of answers that might resonate with the questioner more than the “1,000 reference question answered this year.”
  • Messages for decision makers address keeping the library aligned with the institution’s strategic direction and reporting relevant, measurable activities.
  • Scheduled events would include what is happening in the various types of law libraries e.g. academic year calendars, summer clerk interview season, typical start & stop dates for summer clerks.  Other events might be the scheduled release of new editions or supplements, AALL deadlines for registering for an online educational program, submitting annual meeting proposals, Spectrum & LLJ copy deadlines, dues, annual meeting registration, etc.

Necessary steps, but not necessarily sequentially:

  1. Identify the names/themes for the weeks
  2. Solicit authors, contributors, editors while building on the crowd-sourcing idea.
  3. Consider whether the LLL must be completed before sharing it in the community.
  4. Is it an AALL member benefit and kept in the member only area or available to anyone?
  5. What to use to collect the suggestions?
  6. What format to electronically publish the LLL?
  7. What are the desired characteristics of the format? Static or dynamic? A wiki or a blog? A FaceBook-like page?
  8. Could we collect or link to the training materials posted on library web sites or content created by the various SISs and chapters?
  9. Who’s responsible? The AALL Publications Committee? A single person serving as whip/cheerleader? Spectrum? A new committee? (Such a committee might be comprised of carefully selected exemplars by library type/library function who offer their best advice, past presidents, some retired librarians, and newer law librarians.) Could it be crowdsourced?

10.  Is an editor needed for consistency in quality & format?

11.  How about a cataloger/classifier, indexer, metatager? to organize in consistent structure?

12.  How to capture ideas from each library type and from law librarians running the full range of experience and age.

13.  How to promote the collection and then the existence of the LLL?

14.  What about roll-out? Does roll-out wait until the LLL is complete? Or, is it rolled out as it Is compiled? Should there be a phased development and roll-out?  First a quarterly edition, then a monthly edition and then weekly edition?

15.  Could it use a rapid research and deploy approach like the Smithsonian Commons?

Please share your reactions, questions and suggestions for content of the LLL on the blog.

Professional Development – Better Interviewing

Here’s a web based opportunity for both interviewers and interviewees to become more effective using today’s techniques.

Taking a Different Look at Your Career? Be Prepared. Suceed.

People seeking new and different career opportunities must re-think old strategies and embrace new career-shaping strategies to succeed in today’s economy. Join the upcoming AALL webinar, Preparing for the Next Step in your Career, on June 26, at 12 p.m. Eastern, to learn valuable information from an expert in the recruitment industry and an expert in law libraries/legal information:

  • Close skill gaps and cultivate your talents
  • Market your resume and abilities
  • Succeed in a competency/behavior-based interview

Register by June 22.

Communication Etiquette

A witty and engaging piece by Monica Hesse, “Text is Cheap” in today’s Washington Post explores the options when your lunch partner begins texting during your conversation.  One option she doesn’t discuss: agreeing to groundrules at the beginning of lunch: “no texting or email until . . .”


FUD – Fear Uncertainty & Doubt

When I worked in a law firm in an employment-at-will state, I approached each day believing I needed to prove my value again to a different group of customers/clients/users/partners. So, I always watch for new useful collections of pointers: “Networking is key to navigating recession” by Ari L. Kaploan in the 3/2/09 National Law Journal and “Take Proactive Steps to Avoid a Layoff” by Stacy Humphries and Elaine Makris Williams in the 3/2/09 Texas Lawyer are two such collections. The short version: figure out how to add value to decision-makers and polish your resume.

– Mark

Tweeting in the mainstream media – 3/9/09

Twitter was in the media on Monday. The Wall Street Journal carried “How to Twitter” by Julia Angwin; a fun how-to guide reminiscent of Julie and Julia by Julie Powers. The Washington Post had “Firms take to the Tweetable Business Model” by Kim Hart; a good overview of training programs for employees and using Twitter for business intelligence research.

I’ve not quite figured out how I might use Twitter in a public law library. I did however learn of a library that sends an RSS feed of books that are returned from circulation. Subscribers to the feed can follow a link to the online catalog and place a hold on the book.

– Mark

Learn to Say No

Sometimes librarians must say “no.” Despite our strong service orientation there are limits to how much we can “do more with less.” “How to Say ‘No’ to a Partner” in the 2/27/09 issue of the Legal Intellinger offers some excellent suggestions.

– Mark

March 2023

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