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


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 professional capacity is what SLLG members are best at, and what they – using the asset of the SLLG – must continue to do.


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 book 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, we were left to 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.

Understanding the General Data Protection Regulations – FutureLearn course

A discussion of data protection and the course that taught it, by Christine Macleod.

I have just completed the free online course on Understanding of the General Data Protection Regulations course presented by FutureLearn. This was a self-paced, four week course, taking approximately 3 hours per week. The GDPR course is compiled and presented by staff at the University of Groningen.

I was interested in doing this course for three reasons.

  1. The SLLG committee needs to know how to apply these regulations to the SLLG membership data.
  2. As a member of the public (a data subject) I was curious as to what my rights are, and how to protect my privacy.
  3. How does the GDPR apply to my professional work

I completed a previous FutureLearn course on Genealogy by Strathclyde University, so knew roughly what the format would be – articles, videos, interactive comments, quizzes and exercises. There are also additional resources – links and articles you can read on particular topics if you want to research a topic in more depth. After each section you tick a box to confirm you have completed it so you know exactly where you are and how much more you have to do.

The course is interactive and it asks you to write comments on specific questions, like what do you think about privacy and data security. You can read comments from others on the course, and they can “Like” your comments etc. so discussions can start up. Throughout the course there are links to the regulations themselves if you want to read the actual documents or relate the concepts to the particular articles within the regulations.

The new GDPR come into force on 25 May 2018 and any company or organisation (governments, councils universities etc) in the EU that collects and stores data on individuals will have to be compliant with these Regulations by then. It also affects companies outside the EU if they hold data on EU resident

The course covers a variety of topics, from basic GDPR concepts, to processing principles, rights of data subjects, obligations for controllers and processors, enforcement mechanisms and liability and sanctions. Each section in explained in articles and videos with reference to supporting materials

Week 1 Is an introduction and is designed to make you think about why and what you need to know about the new regulations and the processing of personal data e.g. What are privacy and data protection? It uses the Google case as an example which I found interesting it connects you to a real case, and goes back to the case throughout to provide a live example.

It then outlined the basic fundamentals of GDPR, Data protection principles, consent and minors, including definitions and the different roles – controllers, processors and subjects, data protection officers DPOs – the basics of what you need to understand to make sense of the regulations.

There are 6 main data protection principles which form the basis for privacy of information and data protection. I have listed them here as they are the backbone to the regulations, so are important to learn and understand.

  1. Lawfulness, fairness and transparency
  2. Purpose limitation
  3. Data minimisation
  4. Accuracy
  5. Storage limitation
  6. Integrity and confidentiality

These principles are held together by the principle of Accountancy. The Controller shall be responsible for compliance with the principles

Week 2 was all about the rights of data subjects which I found very interesting. It looked at transparency and modalities (the mode in which something is experienced eg – written, spoken, email, by phone etc) and how information about you is held, what is done to it and how to complain; the need for transparent, understandable, language, and any processes must be simple to undertake.

The sections went through the various rights and their exceptions


The Rights to :-

  • access and rectification
  • object and restrict processing
  • erasure (without undue delay) (except for public interest/health, legal claims etc.)
  • data portability (copy supplied is in a readable format
  • how to complain even/especially if data is processed automatically
  • judicial remedies
  • to be represented
  • compensation for material or non-material damages

These are all rights which we as individuals will have, and I feel it is important that we know what our rights are. Many of the comments in the discussions were about how you are asked by your phone to allow access to your emails, photos, location etc. and how there seems little option but to comply.

Week 3 covered the obligations of controllers and processors – who these groups are, where they overlap, what they are accountable for and to whom. It also looked at the appointment of Data Protection Offices and Data Protection Impact Assessments,

Part of the Controllers obligations include achieving data protection by design and by default. By design – data protection has to be built into systems from the start. By Default – data collections must only contain the minimum amount of data required for specific purposes, and only for a specified amount of time.

Week 4 was about GDPR enforcement and compliance, which looked at the co-ordination, powers and roles of the various authorities, such as the National Supervisory Authorities and the European Data Protection Board. It also looked at the tools available to companies and organisation to help them comply, such as certification mechanisms, codes of conduct, and binding corporate rules. It touched on cross-border data transfers, and finally the liabilities, responsibilities and penalties and sanctions of data controllers and processors are subject to if they do not comply.

Through-out the course you are asked to think about how these concepts apply, what impact they have on you personally, whether you think sanctions will actually work. This method involves you and keeps you interested and engaged, and helps you learn. I do feel I now understand what the GDPR is about and how it applies to me in my life and in my work. I have also been asked to share my new found knowledge with my colleagues.

I found the course great at presenting the information, starting from the general to the specific.  It was stimulating, interesting and very pertinent to me both as an individual, and as a SLLG committee member. It made me aware of how I can protect and access my personal data. It also made me think about what the SLLG committee needs to do to protect members’ data. It was in-depth enough to generate more questions (How will the right to be forgotten be applied? Can we have privacy and protect national security?), and stimulated an appreciation of the issues surrounding data protection and privacy in today’s society which is so steeped in social media.

There are lots more interesting courses available on FutureLearn, including several legal subjects eg. “Law for non-Lawyers” and “Maritime Law” , courses useful to chartership “Learning online: reflecting and sharing”, and just interesting subjects like geology and moons – go look and learn!