Current Awareness SSNaP – 27th June 2017

A small but perfectly formed group of four SLLG members attended the fourth Short Skills Networking and Presentation event hosted by Lorna, Head of Research & Information at Shepherd and Wedderburn, on the topic of Current Awareness.

Lorna began by describing how she used to manually produce briefing material for her colleagues. This method involves a member of staff reading through materials and compiling information to be sent out by email directly. Attendees agreed that this can be very time consuming but does have the benefit of keeping the librarian well informed. We discussed the sustainability of this approach as demand might grow beyond what is possible in the time allowed, especially if trying to deliver custom news to different teams within an organisation.

Tools such as Westlaw Current Awareness can make the creation of briefings less onerous. Some librarians have worked collaboratively with their IT department to create databases which allow them to subdivide news articles using tick boxes and keywords to categorize news which would make the compilation of digests for different teams much easier.

Lorna has been using LINEX for the past five years. Time has been spent populating the resources list to ensure all the usual legal news and publications sites are regularly checked for updates. The platform makes good use of RSS feeds to get the most up to date information to the people who need it; by working with their in-house IT team the library services team have managed to combine their intranet distribution lists to ensure people receive only relevant information based on topics they select themselves.

There are drawbacks to using an externally hosted service: price is a consideration (especially if charged by user or by alert) as are developments to the platform itself. Lorna had been very happy LINEX but the provider is developing a new interface (Vable, now in the beta testing stages) which might not provide the same functionality. Automation also presents problems – it takes time to set up and monitor new alerts to make sure they provide useful information, irrelevant news can slip through, and old or broken links must be weeded out regularly.

We weighed the options and agreed that there is not yet a one-size-fits-all approach to Current Awareness. While an automated service may seem like the easiest option to manage and run, the benefits of a small customised email issued on a regular basis may outweigh the cost of the former, and finding a system that works for you does not mean that there can’t be improvements made further down the line (or that you may want to revert to an earlier model).

We’d like to thank Lorna for hosting such a comprehensive and interesting discussion. We all left with a great deal of food for thought and a keen awareness of the importance of Current Awareness!

Lorna welcomes any questions or comments via the usual channels.

Key takeaways:

  • Current Awareness is a great way to expand your remit and can demonstrate that while, yes, many resources are online, the right skills are required to gather, digest and (legally) disseminate the news that matters. We happen to possess these exact skills!
  • It’s not all about online, though. Many hardcopy resources are neglected unless they are brought to the potential reader’s attention. A brief outline of a hardcopy article – or even just a title – can pique interest and result in better use of paper “assets”.
  • Before commencing or changing a service, it’s a good idea to conduct a rough audit of your organisation’s internal communications. Are there opportunities for collaboration, eg with business development, IT, legal analysts, PSLs? Buy-in from other teams may help your business case for Current Awareness software. Why not use the SLLG discussion board to request examples of business cases other members have submitted?
  • Communication is really key – none of us like it when a service suddenly changes and we haven’t been informed. Ongoing evaluation of a new current awareness initiative will also help to refine your output.
  • Small details matter too – recipients might be loath to open an attachment and therefore more likely to read on if the content is in the body of the email. Ask, “Do you read this and is it helpful?” If you’re discouraged from sending out surveys, anecdotal feedback is just as useful.
  • You can use your intranet or wiki to authenticate access to a content aggregator and allow users to control settings. If your IT department oversee a SharePoint site or similar, discuss options for RSS, and ways to make archived updates retrievable.
  • Most people welcome anything that saves them time and unclutters their inbox. After all, the library has registered for alerts and Feedly so they don’t have to! Some SLLG members also use current awareness roundups to advertise new books and share general library updates, further reducing email traffic.
  • Previously, in a team of lawyers, each person might have received different alerts from various websites. Now, if everyone in the team receives the same email, one lawyer isn’t then required to share it with colleagues or keep it to themself, assuming that it’s common knowledge.
  • Let’s face it, a useful, useable and regular communication to your users is the perfect advert for your service, staff and expertise.

If any member has ideas for SSNaPs they’d like to see in the future please get in touch with the committee. We would like to run more events that you’d like to attend, so do let us know if there’s somewhere you’d like to visit or a topic we should cover.

Library skills CILIP infographic: a law librarian context.

This is the skilled workforce inforgraphic taken from CILIP’s Public Library Skills Strategy 2017-2020.

CILIP public library skills figure

CILIP infographic for library workforce

 

Law librarians will recognise their skills and relate to activities in more than one segment. Indeed, this entire “workforce” of front-line service provider, specialist, leader and manager is often found in an individual law information professional.

It tends to go unsaid, and occasionally unnoticed, so thought a typical Scottish summer’s Monday morning is a good time to share this with SLLG members.

“More pure thought less word search” – SWOP event with talk on the lawyer’s use of a law library, given by Lord Carloway

For SLLG members and lawyers, this posting is especially informative because of the full text link to Lord Carloway’s talk on the lawyer’s use of print and online resources in the law library: past, present and future, presented at the SWOP event.
Click on ‘view original post’ link below.

SWOP Forum

There was  a good turn out for our SWOP meeting at the Supreme Courts yesterday.  We were delighted to welcome Alison Young from the Mitchell Library in Glasgow to the meeting as well as Kelly, Sarah Louise and Rebecaa from the  library service for the Scottish Courts.

supreme courts

Attendees enjoyed a tour of the Courts’ buildings which included the original cells, now used for storage and the ‘piano store’ which as well as a piano housed a coffin!

Jennie Findlay, Scottish Courts Services Library Manager, was our guest chair and introduced Lord Carloway, Lord President of the Court of Session.

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His speech reflected on the fact that the Scots Legal System is based upon principle and not precedent  and whilst databases certainly aid research they must be used with caution and not replace research of core works and texts by legal greats. He has kindly made his speech availablefor those unable…

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SWOP chats with the Scottish Law Librarians Group

Thanks to SWOP Forum for inviting a guest post from SLLG. SLLG Blog has reblogged as it believes SLLG members will also find interest in it as it highlights why members should continue to support colleagues and champion the SLLG. Please click on the link below for the full original posting.

SWOP Forum

Shasllgcrest - Copy (2)rron Wilson recently chatted with her Advocates Library colleague David Brown about the role of Professional Groups.  David is a Committee Member from the Scottish Law Librarians Group (SLLG). This is what David had to say…….

 CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR ROLE?

I am the Senior Bibliographic Services Assistant. I’ve worked for the Faculty of Advocates for 14 years: beginning as a book cleaner, then as a support assistant (loose-leaf updating and shelving) in my first year. I really enjoy my current post and working in the library.

My main responsibilities are:

  • Cataloguing accessions and maintaining the records of the library catalogue
  • Managing the space and physical stock in the library
  • Administering conservation and preservation of the rare materials
  • Project managing an annual book cleaning programme

Like most law librarians I find myself involved in various functions of the library: from regular covering of the enquiry service…

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