New Law Librarians’ Institute

My sense is the the inaugural New Law Librarians’ Institute last week in London, Ontario, sponsored by the Canadian Association of Law Libraries/L’Association canadienne des bibliothèques de droit (CALL/ACBD), was very successful.

It was a 5-day event, with sessions on substantive law led by various University of Western Ontario law professors, combined with sessions by various law librarians, including me.

Sessions included, for example, a Thursday morning session by Professor Sam Trosow on property law for law librarians (including a session on copyright law), followed by a session by UWO Law Librarian John Sadler on researching secondary legal literature. There was then a session in the afternoon on Quebec civil law followed by a computer lab session with hands on practice, with both John and librarian Elizabeth Bruton, also of UWO, leading the various hands on sessions. Others days had other substantive law sessions led by law profs, with other law librarians discussing different aspects of law librarianship.

On the Friday, I presented on the topic of Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession, espousing my views that knowledge management is fully integral to (and ideally fully integrated with) the practice of law librarianship. Aside from discussing the importance of knowledge management within the legal profession, a theme I focused on was the evolving nature of legal knowledge management by updating, in part, the 7 faces of legal knowledge management from my previous paper on that topic.

I was impressed with both the quality of students (around 20 enrollees from as far away as the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Massachusetts) who represented a wide variety of law libraries (private law firm, courthouse and academic) across a fairly wide range of experiences. Although a few of the attendees had specific experience with knowledge management, many had not, and my hope was that I was able to convince them that they all had opportunities to augment their skills by bring knowledge management principles into their daily work as law librarians.

Following my session was a wrap-up panel with John, Elizabeth, me and Gail Brown, a courthouse law librarian from the Middlesex Law Association. Our goal in part in that session was to provide attendees a sense of the working environment in all three types of law libraries. Discussion turned to the job market and advice when interviewing. I am not sure I was entirely happy with my advice, which centered around several things: show confidence, leadership, and an entrepreneurial spirit; and be prepared by anticipating what the employer is looking for – even if you are not asked to prepare a lesson plan or sample research guide, I think it shows initiative to bring examples of what you have done or what you could do for a new employer, depending on the circumstances.

I had to laugh when one of the attendees said that I appeared much less stodgy in person than I did in my SLAW posts!

Although CALL/ACBD will formally evaluate feedback from attendees and make decisions on offering the Institute based in part on those evaluations, my hope is that the program will be offered again, if not annually, at least periodically, and perhaps in rotating locations. One of the attendees, who came to the Institute from the United States, commented during the wrap up session that the Institute was one of the best courses she had attended, compared even to those that are offered in the States.

John Sadler and his team (and CALL/ACBD and its Education Committee) are to be commended for this initiative.

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