SLLG guided walk, 18th May 2018.

colourful old town building

Hidden colour.

The SLLG arranged a guided walk for members and friends. It also arranged some lovely sunshine to walk in.

World's end close

The World’s End is named after the World’s End Close next to it. Who knew?

David Ireland, tour guide and solicitor, led 9 members and 2 non-members up and down and over and under Edinburgh’s Old Town on an exceptionally pleasant and informed route on Friday evening.

Assuming most of us were aware of the main historical places and stories of the Old Town, David steered us through to some of Edinburgh’s lesser noticed historical buildings and details.

Taking us down dark closes to reveal once grand music halls, stopping at a stately home Deacon Brodie worked in (and burgled), and reminding us to look around our surroundings, David gave a sense of discovery we probably didn’t realise we had for places most of us feel so familiar with.

backstreet beauty

SLLG takes members down all the glamorous avenues

For just over 2 hours, a stroll in the warm sun to places not normally afforded a second thought to explore, and learn how they helped shape the more famous history of the city, was a delight.

Always quick to point something out with a flourish that which we may not have consciously noted, David was excellent company.

David even managed to add in a legal element, marking out where Lord Kames once resided. And, of course, there was something for us librarians too.

 

 

printing press sign

The site of Scotland’s first printing press, 1508.

As the sunshine extended our shadow’s legs, the recognisable streets also took on more alien characteristics. A turn down a small run of spiral stone steps under bridge was transformed by a girl with a guitar using decorative LED lights and incense burners, into a tiny late night live music venue.

With the Old Town now in full swing for the weekend, our walk ended next to the hostelry, appropriately enough, The Last Drop.

A good evening was had by all.

not all who wander are lost

“Not all who wander are lost” : some are on a SLLG guided walk

Many thanks to David for his entertaining and thoughtful guidance. Our appreciation also to all those who could make the walk. Finally, thanks to our members David and Sharron for allowing the use of their photographs of the event.

 

 

 

 

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AGM: 3rd May, 2018

24 members attended the group AGM this year in Edinburgh. We enjoyed a business meeting where a new membership category was approved, but not as much as we enjoyed speaking with a rare books conservator in a “show & tell” of rare books and conservation materials after it.

Riddles Close

Riddles Court was the venue for the 2018 AGM.  The late 16th century merchant’s house and courtyards have been recently restored to full beauty and provided an apt setting for a meeting (a shush?) of librarians.

Gail, events manager for the building, welcomed us all with a little introduction to the rich history of the rooms as well as the building’s more recent use as a venue from conferences to parties.

And with that, the committee welcomed members to the meeting at 4:15.

Geddes Room set up for AGM

Geddes Room ready for the AGM

AGM

The business meeting was brief. The highlights of which were:

  • The membership approved a new category of membership.

“Supporter membership” is intended to suit those who wish to benefit from (or support the aims of) the group but are highly unlikely to attend events for reasons of geography or professional interests outside the Scots law information sector. This membership level will allow full access to the benefits of the group. Unlike full membership, it does not include rights to raise or vote on group business. Currently this membership is set at 50% of the full member annual subscription.

To find out more about this new category and all the benefits of joining, please visit our website’s Membership information page.

  • The membership ratified our new look committee continuing into 2019.

Faye accepted the invitation to become convenor from David, who steps down from the committee entirely.

Heather McIntosh accepted the invitation to become secretary, from Faye.

Rona remains treasurer.

Debra returns to the committee from maternity, just as SarahLouise leaves on maternity.

Christine remains on the committee.

With the departure of David, there is one seat on the committee vacant for any member who wishes to be part of making the group work for the membership.

David reminded members how important the SLLG is. Sharing, engaging and supporting in a professionally capacity is what SLLG members are best at, and what they – using the asset of the SLLG – must continue to do.

NETWORKING

conservation materials for AGM

rare book for AGM

Louis Valentine, Carronvale Bindery, set up a table of rare books, conservation utensils and binding materials for us to investigate, once the AGM was over. Louis was happy to answer repair and binding questions with these examples to illustrate the methods used. This was much appreciated by all members, few of whom to the extent they forgot there were refreshments laid out in the adjacent room.

Room for tea and biscuits

After the meeting was formally closed at 5:30, some of us were left explore the rest of the building. What SLLG member among us could resist looking into the Library Room! Indeed, even Louis ventured with us to see the WC with its own fireplace and kitchen range for baking bread.

Many thanks to all those who attended our AGM, Advocates Library for loaning rare book examples, Louis for generously giving of his time, and Riddles Court in hosting us.

Book sculpture at riddles court 1

SLLLG: Scottish law library leaders group?

The SLLG Twitter account, @scotlawlibs, regularly posts items it finds on the reasons law information professionals bring value to those using information services. Yesterday it posted 3 links to articles from “library twitter” based around the idea of management, leadership and self-care in the workplace. SLLG members might find these of interest.

Remy Maisel writes in What Management Skills Do You Need to Run A Library? that, like all professional occupations, a Librarian is expected to accomplish some tasks recognisable in management roles. This is despite evidence suggesting few enter the Library sector to be managers.

The article states every successful information professional has good communication skills. These skills are also the main basis for much of everyday successful library management.

Some argue that communication skills and the ability to delegate are more important characteristics for a manager to possess than experience, though experience is beneficial.

The article continues with highlighting  management aspects such as planning, organising and directing, and service promotion stemming from the initial skills associated with communication.

The article suggests focussed networking is key in benefiting both the individual and the service.

Steven Bell takes a rather counterintuitive tact in his What Not To Do: Tips for New Library Leaders, for those just starting out with leadership responsibilities. Here, Bell suggests that there are expectations attached to leadership. Bell states that mistakes offer valuable lessons.

It certainly helps to learn what to do to get it right. New leaders also benefit from learning basic mistakes they need to avoid, but they hear about the latter less than needed.

He expands in his article on what he considers are what-not-to-dos:

  1. Not “giving up” your old job and still focussing on the service provision you’ve left
  2. Launching initiatives attached to no specific problem
  3. Finding positions for ex-colleagues or friends
  4. Over-promising, under-delivering

He also links and makes reference to more “not-to-dos”.

It’s not all negatives though, and Bell provides some constructive tips. These include communication with stake-holders, becoming aware of the wider institution and networking with fellow library leaders. This final point, he says, can help alleviate some of the stress of leadership.

I learned that most of my peers had similar issues, concerns, and stressors. I came away feeling more confident that I could do this job.

Steven Bell has written on the subject of leadership in libraries from different angles in a few posts, which members may find of interest.

A far more general article on stress in the workplace was linked to by SLA New England. How to Recognize Burnout before You’re Burned Out by Kenneth R. Rosen, in the New York Times. Stress and tension is something which affects all jobs, including law librarianship.

Rosen identifies some “common work stressors” such as unrealistic deadlines, changes to processes, added responsibility beyond initial scope of role (when leadership is an unwanted by-product)

…we are not meant to be in that high-stress mode all the time. We got lost in this idea that the only way to be productive is to be on the go-go-go mode.

Rosen then offers some ideas to “combat burnout at work” including taking time off, making the workspace more comfortable, having a hobby or activity to look forward to outside work, and finding someone trusted to talk through the stressors and perhaps agree possible resolutions.

So, again, communication and networking. Communicating as our skill, and networking as we do in the SLLG.

Whether any article has its flaws, or is far from the definitive word on what is Library Leadership, is up for debate. And that’s good because it furthers the subject for us in considering ourselves as leaders or potential leaders in our roles. Stimulating deeper readings and thoughts in this area is a positive to understanding when we are leaders and when we wish to take a step back from leadership.

Although, they or other studies can’t hope to explain why good library leadership is sometimes simply sticking a blow-up dinosaur in the library.

Inflatable T-Rex

What do you think are leadership facets we see in law librarianship? Are we all leaders to some extent? Do we want to be viewed as leaders? Feel free to add to the comments box below.

The Sheriff Court Library Service: Visiting Courts

The Sheriff Courts of Scotland have a new library service. Assistant Librarian Julie McGregor kindly agreed to tell SLLG about some of the early challenges of setting up a multi-site service.

The Sheriff Court Library Service was officially launched in April 2017 to provide a library service for all 38 of Scotland’s Sheriff Courts. As part of the SCTS Library Service, the Sheriff Court Library Service mirrors that of the Supreme Court Library Service. The service centralises  the purchase and management of library materials for all sheriff courts, provides an enquiry service and offers training in e-resources to the judiciary and court staff.

The plan 

Although we are based in Edinburgh, it is vital that we visit all the courts to meet staff, assess and record stock and catalogue. Introductory visits to at least one sheriff court in each of the six sheriffdoms were made during summer 2017 but more detailed visits to all courts were then planned for autumn.

The visits

We opted to go to the far flung courts of Grampian, Highland and Islands in October and November before the weather became too troublesome. We worked out that three courts per trip was a realistic plan. Fort William, Portree and Lochmaddy became our first trip and took four days. A couple of weeks later we jetsetted off for three days to Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Lerwick. Two full days in Perth were also fitted around the two big trips.

The challenge 

Our big challenge when preparing for these visits was to plan routes that would cover the courts – all by train, bus, ferry or plane. We also had to fit in with courts that only sit every 2 or even 4 weeks. It felt quite strange being given the key to a sheriff court and just letting ourselves in. What and how much library stock would we find? What condition would it be in and where would it be stored? How are the materials being used? Are Sheriffs and staff in smaller, more remote courts relying on print material or accessing it all online? Would we have enough time to weed, reorganise, record and photograph the stock? Would we have time to visit Orkney and Shetland Public Libraries?!

Observations and reflections

  • Larger courts have a dedicated library room but most courts have library material in various rooms such as Sheriff’s Chambers, on the bench, in solicitors’ rooms or sometimes even in Witness Rooms. Every court seems to have a grand old collection of Public General Acts – although these are now easily available online we left these for display purposes.
  • It’s important to plan but be flexible. We were able to complete our work in some courts; in others we had to fit work around the running of the court and may need to return.
  • The sheriffs and staff we met use a combination of a small number of textbooks and online resources. Both court staff and sheriffs may work in more than one location so it’s not practical to carry looseleafs, books etc. between the courts.
  • Meeting and chatting to the staff in the courts has been a valuable and enjoyable experience. The smooth running of the library service relies on the relationships we build with the staff in the courts. It has been good to put faces to names and we found that our colleagues in the courts we visited are very pleased to have the support of a library service. Having met us they are more likely to get in touch with us for help.
  • Orkney Public Library and Shetland Public Library are worth visiting!

We documented our trips on twitter under #shedlibsontour so watch this space for the further adventures of the Sheriff Court librarians!

Sheriff Courts image

Clockwise from top left: Sheriff Courts of Lochmaddy, Aberdeen, Fort William, Portree, Kirkwall and Lerwick. Photos courtesy of SCTS and J.McGregor.