How Do You Keep Up?

Today I participated in TALL‘s annual visit to the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto to talk with students about membership in the Association (and in CALL while we were at it), a potential career in law librarianship, and how to get their foot in the door for first jobs.

After the session, one of the students asked a couple of us how we keep up to date with legal research; what tools we use for current awareness. I had to laugh, since this has changed dramatically for me. I used to read every advertisement and journal that came across my desk. Over time it just became too difficult to read everything. I have since come up with a number of alternative strategies.

But before I divulge my style of keeping up, I’m wondering what you do? How do you stay up to date in the legal research profession? What are your favourite current awareness tools and strategies? I encourage you to post a comment and share!



  1. Following information using Bloglines has made a HUGE difference in my work life. It allows me to filter information in myriad ways and according to on my available time and varying priorities.

  2. That is great, Heather! I suggested to the students that they, too, might want to start following some blogs and other feeds (such as news and government websites) through an aggregator.

    Ironically, it is not something I’ve been in the habit of doing myself. I tend to do more of a random surfing of the net, and reading a set list of feeds (no matter how long and varied the blogroll) just seems somehow counterintuitive to me. But I may give in and start doing it….there are just so many great blogs to read, and I really really like the idea of checking an aggregator first thing in the morning, with a big mug of my favourite morning beverage…

    Anyone else??

  3. This is a question I’ve been thinking about recently, the stack of journals on the corner of my desk is far too high to consider it a viable means of keeping up. I find interacting with my colleagues be it in person or electronically to be a viable means of keeping up. In the academic environment that means that I try to find out what my colleagues are doing when I see them in committees in addition to the established means such as conferences. Electronically, that means blogs such as this and finding the right balance in listservs. However, I simply don’t have enough time in my day to “surf” so aggregators do become useful, but again there is a danger of information overload. Lately, I have been trying to set aside a certain portion of my day for “current awareness”. Which means following up on information that I have gleaned from the areas mentioned above. My own personal conclusion in all of this is that I have to eliminate some of the daily minutiae, that we can become focused on all to easily, and focus on the big picture issues. As a Librarian that is easier said than done.

  4. 6 months ago I had an in-box that was 2 feet high. Seriously! I will have to dig up my photo on Flickr to show you. Now it is down to a more reasonable height.

    My solution was to:
    (1) remove myself from all routing lists, with perhaps one or two exceptions; and
    (2) have the person opening the mail throw out all direct mail advertising and catalogues from the major publishers.

    My reasoning:
    – any “must read” articles will eventually be pointed out to me by others. My exceptions are association publications since I sit on the executive committees for TALL and CALL. Those newsletters/journals I look through the moment they come out, and earmark for reading later. Also, these are a big reason why I sign up for associations, so it would be silly not to look at them.
    – publisher catalogues I use on the website, since they are more current there anyway.
    – direct mail advertising from the major publishers is a lot of duplication of information I am given by sales reps, either in f2f meetings or email sales pitches. I let the sales reps know I am not looking at this bumph so they can keep that in mind. I actually find this to be a more comprehensive method of keeping up with new publications, instead of piecemeal relying on advertising.

    Reducing how much mail I need to sort through means I have more time for web browsing my favourite sites and following the links. I earmark things in my linkblog for later reading.

    When I’m home bored the occasional evening (usually Saturday nights!) I surf around, revisit some of the sites I marked in my linkblog. It’s a good thing to do while half-watching all those reality TV programs: The Apprentice, America’s Next Top Model, The Amazing Race, and (my favourite) What Not to Wear. Heh.