Key Messages From CALL/ACBD 2014: The Role of Law Library Professionals

I am still thinking about the messages that came out of last week’s Canadian Association of Law Libraries conference. So much of it revolved around the role of library professionals. Some of my key take-aways from my week in Winnipeg:

  • Things continue to change. Business as we knew it has been permanently disrupted. Lawyers, law firms, legal organizations and law libraries need to change or they will be left behind.
  • Lawyers do not hold all the answers; library staff (who are more familiar with process) could have many of the answers, and there is an opportunity to get involved at the organizational level. We need to speak up and be heard. Moreover, we may be key to the success of legal organizations such as law firms. We need to shepherd our organizations towards process improvement.
  • Titles such as “librarian” and “library technician” are tied to a place, but we are more about service than place. Depending on the culture of our organizations, we may need to change our titles to help our stakeholders and clients understand what our (evolving) role is.
  • Our services are not tied to a place. Our “three-foot radius” of service goes wherever we go (thank you for the concept, Greg Lambert!). We can be creative and take that three-foot radius of service anywhere with us, where it is needed most.
  • If it were up to our stakeholders, all paper would be discarded. Library staff are concerned about the legacy of information. What will be its disposition? Where will it still reside if discarded by everyone? The law in Canada still needs us to help ensure we do not forget.
  • No matter how much I learn about the effect of residential schools in Canada, the stories that came out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are no less moving. I thank The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair for speaking to us with openness about the Commission and its findings. We still need our Federal Government to release 2 or 3 million documents to the Commission. Again, library staff in Canada have a responsibility to help retain and make accessible the documents that others would prefer to discard. We can also play a role in ensuring the messages that came from the Commission’s work are heard.

While I can’t replicate how moved we all were listening to Justice Sinclair, here are the videos he shared with us:

Northern National Event – Its About Courage. from TRC – CVR on Vimeo.




There will be coverage soon posted to the CALL/ACBD website. I also recommend checking out Michel-Adrien Sheppard’s Library Boy blog for some great coverage of individual sessions and events. And see the tweets–we used the hashtag #CALLACBD2014.

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