Member Profile: Luca Fois

Last year we introduced the first of our member profiles by interviewing the inimitable Roddy Waldhelm. Roddy has been an institution in the Scottish Law Library community for years so we were delighted to start this series with such prestige!

For our next profile post we were keen for you to meet a member of the SLLG committee, and who better than the newest person to join the SLLG committee, Luca Fois! Luca is the Sheriff Courts Librarian working in the Scottish Courts and Tribunals service. Although he’s been in post for almost 18 months now, Luca is still relatively new to the sector and so we thought his perspective would provide a new fresh take for those just getting to know our group and colleagues.


A portrait of Luca, a young man smiling at the camera. He is standing in front of rows of blue law reports which fill the shelves behind him.

1) How did you get started in law library work?

I have always been fascinated by special libraries, and when the chance to apply to a law library post has arisen, a couple of years ago, I just thought I should submit my CV. My main drives for this decision have been the challenges presented by the post, having to learn, basically from scratch, the whole Scottish legal system, having to transfer skills I learned in public and school libraries; I was also fascinated by the opportunity to learn new skills, especially hot to do a legal research, which sounded fun and at the same time quite obscure and esoteric; and the responsibility of driving forward a fairly new service, having the chance to implement new services and making the change happen. Then, I had also read the blog of a previous Sheriff Courts Librarian and was fascinated by the tales of her visits in the various courts in Scotland, so I was also looking forward to that, but we know how it ended.

2) What do you think is the best part of your job?

Being in close contact with all the people behind the scenes of the Scottish legal system, and sometimes even being able to contribute to it.  If I can mention it here, I also enjoy working with my colleagues, who are amazing and supportive!

3) What do you think has been your biggest challenge in the workplace to date?

Getting to grips with the Scottish Legal System. I had no legal background, and only a very vague idea of how the legal system works in Italy, so that has been a challenge. Lots of reading, courses on line and night classes did fit the bill, but I still feel like there is room for improvement, especially considering I have started this new position a few months before the pandemic. On the other hand, I did not have any preconceptions about how to do the job, so it’s also true I did not have to adapt to a new way of working, it was pretty new regardless.

4) If you were to tell a colleague about one aspect of your service that you think more people should know about, what would it be?

While I think most of our colleagues are aware of the research service we offer, it is also useful to mention that we are here to offer training session on our digital databases tailored to the users: and this is even more relevant right now that we have to rely greatly to online material. 

5) If you were on a desert island which book, record and luxury item would you like to have with you?

  • Can I bring a trilogy of books? If so, I would bring Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastard sequence. If not, Tales from the Inner City, by Shaun Tan.
  • For the record, OK Computer. Then I would have to find a CD player, or do we get an Mp3 Player?
  • I don’t know if it’s considered a luxury item, but I would bring a combination of luxury items a Switch with a solar power battery charger!

6) Which book would you be most tempted to steal from a library?

I know a few libraries here in UK have copies of early editions of the Decamerone by Giovanny Boccaccio, from XVI century, and it would be quite an addition to my books collection. When I was a high school student in Italy, I always enjoyed the short stories collected in this title by Boccaccio, even if not as much when I had to analyse them bit by bit, but then, when I reencountered this book again when doing a history of the book course at uni, I started re-reading it and was hooked. I have to admit I was also fascinated by the historical (and pecuniary) value of this book!

7) What is your secret superpower, and what would your superhero name be?

I bake tiered cakes and like laminating (as in pastry)? I do not want to have a superhero name with this skills, thank you. 🙂 Another superpower would be understanding quite a few foreign languages?

8) What is your favourite palindrome?

Tacocat!

9) Do you have any sage wisdom you’d like to pass on to the next generation of information professionals?

Keep on be informed around the trends in the library profession. Engage with the library profession and the librarians around you. There is a lot of knowledge and experience that you can obtain just from exchanging your point of view with your fellow colleagues, and, as you are probably aware, they are more than willing to have these conversations with you.


Thank you for sharing Luca. I can’t wait for the next SLLG get-together where you might bake us one of those incredible sounding tiered cakes!

If you would like to take part in our Member Profiles series or would like to nominate a colleague who works in the law library sector, please email SarahLouise on sarahlouise.mcdonald@ed.ac.uk. 

Keeping In Touch with SLLG

As the anniversary of the first UK lockdown approaches, the SLLG committee were reflecting on how tough a year it’s been for those of us working from home or on furlough. We considered how much we missed being able to see colleagues in the workplace face-to-face, and wondered how our wonderful membership have managed. If you feel like sharing something about your experience, we’d love for you to add a comment, image or note to our Padlet, which is like a virtual notice board for online post-its!

Using Padlet:

  • To add a new note, just click on the link above to be taken to the Padlet page, and then click the ‘plus’ button in the bottom right of the screen.
  • You can add text, give your note a title, upload an image or search for one on the web using the tools at the bottom of your note.
  • Feel free to add your name or you can leave it anonymous if you prefer! You don’t need to log in or register to use Padlet, and you can post as many times as you like.
  • While you’re there you can ‘like’ other people’s notes by clicking the small heart icon at the bottom of the note, or you can leave a comment.
A screenshot of a new 'note' tile on Padlet, showing space to write a message, add a title and icons to upload or find images online.

We’d love to hear what you’ve been up to if you’re happy to share!

We’re also keen to get a SLLG Whats App group set up, so if you think you’d like to have informal chats and are a keen Whats App user then please let us know, either by emailing (committee@sllg.org.uk) or by leaving a comment on this post with your name. We’ll get in touch with you privately for your contact information to add you to the chat.

If you would like to stay in touch with people from the SLLG but don’t like to use apps or social media, that’s no problem! Just leave us a comment or drop us an email with how you like to be contacted and we’ll arrange to buddy you up with some colleagues in our network for regular check-ins. We’re looking forward to hearing from you soon!

SLLG AGM September 2020

2020 was a year of stress and strain for everyone. It was also the year when we all had to get used to very different ways of working and the SLLG was no different! Instead of meeting in Edinburgh or Glasgow for the first time we held our AGM virtually over Zoom, with members joining the meeting from Glasgow, Edinburgh and as far afield as Peterborough, without leaving the comfort of their sofa.

Members who arrived early were able to chat and catch up before the official business of the meeting began. 11 members were in attendance. With few technical hiccups the meeting got into full swing. SarahLouise welcomed everyone. After the apologies, the minutes of the last meeting were approved with no matters arising.

In summarising the Conveners report SarahLouise talked about how hard 2020 has been for every one and the hope that we would find a way though this together. She talked about the events that the SLLG held in 2019 and 2020. Saying that although in recent years the group had based more of its events in Edinburgh there had been the hope in the coming year to move more events to Glasgow or elsewhere. With Covid-19 still being a big part of everyone’s lives it looks like most of the group’s program for the coming year will be online instead.  

Appreciation was shown to Lorna and David, the great team behind our Twitter account. This came with a call to all members to send in any thoughts about content for the SLLG Blog.

SarahLouise paid tribute to Faye, who stepped down as convener in 2019, as well as departing committee members Julie and Kayleigh and lastly Debra who stepped down from the position of treasurer. She warmly welcomed Luca as the latest member to join the committee, and ended her report by thanking everyone who has contributed to the working of the SLLG in the last year.

Rona gave a quick finance update. SarahLouise presented a review of the SLLG’s Twitter activity since the last AGM, submitted by David. Details of both these documents can be found in the member’s area of the website. All the roles on the committee were confirmed for the coming year.

Sadly because of the circumstances of the time after the business portion the meeting ended; we didn’t have our now traditional talk or demonstration from a guest but instead kept the meeting open for anyone who wanted to chat and catch up with people they hadn’t seen in a long time. 

Our thanks go to Heather for acting as the technical administrator for the AGM. On behalf of the committee I hope to see you all later this year for the SLLG’s 2021 AGM.

Katharine Calder, SLLG Committee

To watch a recording of the Zoom session please log in to the Members Area of the website and select Member Papers and then Meeting Minutes. You will also find copies of all documents used and referred to during the meeting in this location.

SSNaP Reopening the Libraries: 6th August 2020

Although we haven’t been our usual active selves in 2020 I am pleased to report that we ran one of our famed SSNaP sessions on the topic of reopening the libraries in August. We felt it was important to share ideas of best practice and also to stay in touch with colleagues from different areas of the sector to see how they were dealing with the challenges of the year. Six members met on Zoom to discuss how they were managing.

In some ways our return to work was very similar, and in some it varied greatly. Our colleagues from firms and members’ libraries have been working right through lockdown either remotely or at a greatly reduced office capacity and were making plans to return in a staged manner, whereas others had gone entirely online and had no plans to return to the physical library workplace for quite some time.

Many legal institutions still rely heavily on print resources even during a pandemic! (Image from libreshot, creative commons licensing)

A common theme was that of personal responsibility. Most of the people present agreed that it is extremely difficult to manage the desire to complete work professionally while balancing this with averting risk either to themselves or to service users. If masks are not mandatory in the workplace it can be difficult to distance particularly when library and information services may not have much designated physical space in a small firm, or when required to hotdesk.

We spoke about the practicalities of Click and Collect services, sanitising and quarantining materials, and how difficult it is to manage resources in some workplaces which are so rooted in the tradition of print (and delicate print at that). We discussed how our usual routes for interlibrary loans had almost entirely collapsed due to the lack of availability of print loans, and our concerns for the production of print material such as looseleafs if nobody will be able to borrow them for the forseeable future.

However we did manage to find positives in some of the chaos of the previous few months:

  • Many workplaces were adapting quickly to more flexible working, such as allowing staff to adjust hours to account for busy periods for public transport
  • Universal acceptance of online meetings means working between different sites is much easier , for example in the case of firms with offices located in both Glasgow and Edinburgh
  • Some opportunities have arisen for staff to take on responsibilities in new areas while working from home

At the time of our SSNaP we felt that we were over the hill of lockdown so the initial panic of the pandemic had abated, but that the difficult circumstances restricting our work remained. As I write we have tier systems with different restrictions for different areas of Scotland and although much of the work that was put on pause has now resumed, unfortunately we are still dealing with the fallout. Guidance from our professional body has not really been specific enough to help with our often traditionally minded sector, and we felt that the next steps from SLLG should be to gather resources relating to the our own circumstances. As such that’s what we’ll be focusing on in the coming months – gathering advice and developing strategies for how to safely resume our in-person services in the event of future lockdowns, and pulling together information on what we’ve learned about our services for the past year.

If you have any comments or thoughts on the reopening of libraries we’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment on this post, or you can contact us on committee@sllg.org.uk.

SarahLouise McDonald