Speed Networking, 28 January 2015: Notes.

This is a summary of the short discussions which formed the SLLG 2015 speed networking meeting.

Many attendees commented on the interesting questions posed this year and the answers we all gave certainly backs this up as being one of the most valuable networking meetings yet for the group.

Thanks go to all the committee for running the event and noting down the discussions.

1. Professional Development
Do membership organisations such as CILIP, BIALL and SLLG represent value for money?

Value to a membership organisation was considered best measured in contact and networking opportunities, professional development and financial costs. Often the value of a membership organisation changes depending on variables of career progression and employer requirements.

SLLG was praised for its specific worth to law information professionals in terms of contacts and relevant training events. It was highlighted that membership costs are affordable.

BIALL was well thought of for its relevance to the law information profession and considered the most ‘official’ body for law librarians. It was thought to be London-centric for training and networking. The BIALL annual Conference was seen as a main reason for membership outside London.

CILIP’s value was in its structured approach to the information profession. It was also noted that it has local branches which help make it less London-centric. Many employers see a CILIP membership as a mark of quality. For members, CILIP is a status. In both cases, CILIP accreditation can be used in salary negotiations. There was concern the practicality is something different, where CILIP is less relevant to law information professionals. There are few training courses offered. The worth of chartership was also questioned. It was noted the membership costs for CILIP are very high for the benefits it offers law information professionals.

SLA was considered very expensive to join. Events tend to be free meaning less incentive be a member.

Other membership organisations, such as SWOP, were not overly discussed.

2. Marketing your service
With a recent UK Government commissioned report recommending public libraries imitate chain coffee shops, is there something different you’ve done to promote use of your library or information centre?

There were various methods revealed for promoting a law information centre including:

  • Dedicate a week to marketing the resources using posters and training hours
  • Offer wine, sweets or other bribes to visit a resource
  • Develop branding and a recognisable style for communications
  • Provide one-to-one support and tailored marketing
  • Be visible and engage with users outside the “library” space
  • Market the venue rather than service
  • Create a relaxed environment with refreshments and music

There was some discussion as to the need for marketing at all when the user base was in situ (such as within an academic setting).

3. Professional use of social media
Do you use social media [Facebook, Twitter, blogs] for work? What are the advantages & disadvantages of using social media in the workplace? Who are the best info professional bloggers and tweeters to follow?

The majority of attendees had access to at least one platform of Social Media either through work or personally. A number of library, librarian and sector information twitter accounts / blogs are followed by attendees.

The popular feeling was social media remains a distraction from work more than a workplace resource. It was generally accepted Social Media only benefits those who are prepared to invest time focussed in posting and monitoring it. Most attendees in their daily work felt they were too busy to commit to this. There was a suggestion that blogs never attained their promise and are now dying out.

Overall, Law Firms and legal institutions are still hyper-sensitive about what information relating to them is broadcast. Some workplaces have monitored, restricted access or outright bans on the use of Social Media on the premises.

There was a sense of reticence about posting information. Most felt they had “nothing to say” or were happier to avoid potential social media pitfalls.

The SLLG Twitter account and ELISA Blog were given as good examples of Social Media. The platform, MOOTUS, was given as a social media platform to look out for in the future.

Social Media was seen as a tool to:

  • Grow professional support networks
  • Gather up to the minute information
  • Be more recognisable for users to engage with
  • Promote a service or event

Attendees were also mindful of some dangers of social media and prompted caution:

  • Follow the employer’s Social Media policy
  • If there is no Social Media policy then offer to help draft one
  • Understand, enable and check privacy settings to suit your needs
  • Privacy settings are no guarantee of controlling the “reach” of posts
  • Consider exactly what information is being disclosed and self-censor
  • If a post is negative about an employer or colleague: do not post
  • Be aware that blogs and other information on Social Media may be inaccurate

4. User feedback
How can you better gauge user satisfaction with your library/information service and is there a way to increase responses?

Questionnaires, surveys and training feedback forms were the main ways to gain user satisfaction information. No one was using metrics or tracking “clickthroughs” of usage.

Having a good relationship with the target of the survey and gaining their support was the most important aspect in getting valuable responses.

It was agreed good survey design is crucial to getting responses.

Successful responses come from a reply form which is:

  • Clear in its aims to the respondent
  • Easily accessible
  • Precise in its questions
  • Requiring of only short, efficient answers
  • Tested before sending

Feedback can also be incentivised with a prize draw entry or similar.

Follow up reminders to complete the form are also useful.

Responses tend to increase when there is a belief a response affects change.

It was noted people are more likely to respond when giving a complaint and no feedback can be good feedback and, in this regard, any good feedback must be kept.

5. E-books
“Preservation is the ‘global warming’ issue for e-books”. Discuss.

The main theme coming from this was how much access control an information service has to keeping an eBook. A secondary concern was for the realistic longevity for eBooks.

What if the publisher withdraws the material? How long will a publisher archive old editions to purchase? What if a publisher or provider goes bust? Will IT continue to support older formats already purchased?

Preservation was also considered in the permanent record of a book’s existence. Would the record be deleted if the eBook is? What is the consequence if it is?

Specific questions were raised about how an e-book may be cited in court, knowing what the edition is (particularly with contracts) and how easy an eBook is to read.

A wider theme of licensing also brought out the view an eBook is much less mobile than a physical book for the sharing needs of a library. Physical books, too, will not become obsolete and remain more useful in the long term of library holdings.

There is a need to know more about the National Library of Scotland’s activity with digital preservation. Most attendees were aware Legal Deposit is gradually being transferred to electronic depositing and the British Library now allowing eBooks to be added at chapter by chapter level to its servers. This also raised concerns with issues relating to how these materials are searched for and used.

There was a feeling that eBooks are the inevitable future and law information professionals will have to find easier means to relate to them.

6. Final fun Question
If you could employ anybody, past or present, to work in your library who would you pick and why?

While some attendees wanted to employ someone with the correct qualifications, there were other less MSc qualified suggestions.

Top of the film star choices were:

  • George Clooney
  • Eva Green
  • Johnny Depp
  • Bruce Willis
Eva_Green_(Headshot by Dan Shao)

Can you point at a book, any book? Close enough. You’re hired! Eva Green (Headshot by Dan Shao)

Fictional characters were also considered:

  • The Tenth Doctor (with an enquiry solving time and space travelling TARDIS)
  • Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory

Historical figure choices included:

  • Sir Walter Scott
  • Sir George Mackenzie

A few practical choices were:

  • Another member of the SLLG
  • Someone tall
  • A previous librarian of the library

It was decided a cat would not be good for users with allergies, Sherlock Holmes lacked the people skills for a librarian, and Brian Blessed too LOUD!

Well done to all those who took part this year in giving such good answers! Next year we hope to see you all again as well as more new faces at the 2016 Speed Networking!

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