Three things are converging for me today on the theme of law librarian visibility. The first: On Firmer Ground – a blog promoting the value of law firm librarians – has revived; the second: I am preparing to attend the Canadian Bar Association Legal Conference in Calgary on behalf of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in August; the third: a look forward in my calendar to Thursday when I will be at the Edmonton Law Libraries Association HeadStart program.
At their core, a reason behind all of these activities is to raise the profile of law librarians with stakeholders. In some cases, HeadStart for instance, there are other goals at play, but demonstrating the value of law librarians, promoting our profession and our place in the legal arena is an important and acknowledged element. It is important to me. Personally.
As I write this, I am asking myself why I take law librarian visibility – the perception that others have of the value of law librarians – so personally? Is it equivalent to a lawyer cringing over a lawyer joke? Is it that I see the effects on my professional colleagues when their jobs and collections are reviewed with an eye to decimating cost cuts? Perhaps it is the place that legal information (access to it as well as maintenance of it) plays in our democracy. Or is it the idea that without libraries, information that is necessary to enhance the human condition will be lost, and, if information is not retained in coherent context, it becomes just data.
All libraries, including law libraries, hold stories. Law librarians collect the stories and keep them safe and available for defining new stories. It is no surprise to me that 2 of the 4 known copies of the Magna Carta are kept in the British Library. It would be a different world without that story.