What is it about lawyers and librarians that we spend so much time thinking, talking and trying to change the way our professions are perceived? A search through the literature of both disciplines reveals what amounts to an obsession. I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised, given that “client-focused” is a key characteristic of both groups. We worry about how we are perceived because otherwise we run the risk of losing business. If we don’t articulate our value, we’re expendable.
Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns
At the end of September, four members of the Ontario Government Libraries Council (OGLC) presented a workshop at Showcase Ontario, the Ontario government’s enormous technology and information conference. The session was about how to use non-traditional media such as blogs and Twitter for current awareness, and included two practical case studies from the Office of the Fire Marshal and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Registrations for the session topped 400. Since then, various members of the panel have been asked to make presentations to other audiences, to contribute content to articles reporting on social media use in government, and . . . [more]
I always laugh when I see the seemingly inevitable use of “whither” in library-related publications. It just as inevitably suggests “wither” and reminds me that we are a profession at some risk. It might seem unfair to pick on word choice, but “whither” always strikes me as being out of touch.
Law libraries are at risk of becoming similarly out of touch. Recent research on behalf of the Special Libraries Association by Outsell, Inc. and Fleishman-Hillard suggests that special libraries may be out of step with their organizations. While SLA’s Alignment project is focused on positioning the association . . . [more]
“Digitization” is certainly a term to conjure with in libraries these days. A variety of reasons has motivated these projects. The physical degradation of irreplaceable collections is a considerable spur, as is the trend toward greater openness and improved access to information. The Library of Congress has been developing significant digital collections, including the American Memory project, Thomas (the legislative archive), and newspaper collections. In Canada, government and university libraries are looking closely at their holdings, with an eye to making rare materials available via the web. The Library and Archives Canada is also building digital collections of literary . . . [more]
The nature of current awareness is changing. It has become increasingly easy for us to read newspapers from other cities, to retrieve transcripts or recordings of television and radio programs. We can monitor the progress of legislative debate without the need to read every word in Hansard. The blogosphere is a source of commentary and analysis. The “current” is more like a tidal wave than ever before.
Librarians are used to providing media monitoring and environmental scanning services. We’ve gone from clipping the local paper and photocopying tables of contents to harvesting RSS feeds, searching global newspapers on the web . . . [more]
Last summer, I was asked by a client at a small administrative tribunal to help with an interesting project. Over the organization’s 20-year history, it had accumulated a number of “issues files”, which document the evolution of its thinking on a range of questions and problems which had arisen over time. The collection was a valuable store of corporate knowledge and history, but it was difficult to know where to look for a particular piece of information or to know what questions might be answered by using these files. Could we recommend a way of cataloguing the contents of these . . . [more]
My legal research career has taken me to several different settings in different cities or jurisdictions, and one thing I have found interesting is that there has always been a stronger emphasis on some tools in each of my workplaces. For this reason, I decided to write a series of columns that will address particular research materials or sources of law or legal information that, for one reason or another, I found myself using more in some settings than in others and that generally might be otherwise overlooked as excellent resources. This month, the column addresses law reform bodies and . . . [more]
“Will there be food?” is the usual response to any invitation to attend a library event. Attendance always seems to be higher if it is promoted as having refreshments. My column this time is devoted to the various ways in which libraries gain attention by literally dangling cookies in front of their audiences.
I remember putting together a library open house some years ago. I deliberately chose Valentine’s Day as the day of the event, which I called the Library Love-In (yes, I know). The invitation went out via e-mail, with the subject line: “Chocolate”. Attendance was remarkably good, and . . . [more]
Sorry if you thought I am writing a “Who does legal research anymore, anyway?” column this time. What I mean by the title, and what I mean to ask in the column, is in what settings and by whom is legal research done today, and whether the answers to these questions call for any action by legal research professionals. Those of us who carry out legal research or provide legal research instruction as a regular part of our livelihoods or occupations often think of legal research in what I think of as a more traditional context: the private law firms, . . . [more]
There are few members of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) who are unfamiliar with Karen MacLaurin. The lively Executive Director of Ottawa’s County of Carleton Law Association for the past 20 years, Karen has been a fixture at CALL conferences for more years than any of us want to remember. She has also been a key contributor to many CALL initiatives. The Copyright Committee, Vendors’ Liaison Committee, Courthouse Librarians’ SIG, as well as other groups, have all benefitted from Karen’s energy and experience. In 2007, Karen was the chair of the program committee for the Ottawa CALL conference. . . . [more]
This time around the Legal Research Unplugged column is a little less legal and a little more plugged-in than usual. As often is the case, I have been thinking about the way students and young lawyers carry out research and the way we teach or guide them in this (the “we” being the more experienced research lawyers, teachers, and librarians who are tasked with or take on the responsibility). However, this time around my thoughts have turned to research skill with tools other than the traditional legal resources, in particular, skill with the tools of a “plugged-in” researcher. Perhaps this . . . [more]
Summer is for weeding. The horticultural among us use the sunny days for tending to their gardens. The bibliocultural among us tend to our collections. This summer, as every summer, I read shelves, assessed collection strengths, and determined the fate of subscriptions and individual volumes – keep or chuck? Repair or replace? Track down missing volumes, or write them off? And I shifted, and I shifted, and I shifted. We’ve now got grow room in the areas that need it, and I got a great upper body workout.
Shifting books is one of those activities that permit contemplation. As I . . . [more]