SLLG SWOP Networking, 25th January 2018

SLLG and SWOP leaflets (credit S. Wilson)

SLLG and SWOP leaflets (credit S. Wilson)

SLLG and SWOP held a joint networking event for their memberships.
Official Publication information, law librarianship and shared professionalism (and the crisps afterwards) were the topics of the day. Here is a summary of discussions.

17 attendees from SLLG and SWOP were welcomed to the SSC Library for a late afternoon of networking together. Based on the SLLG popular “speed” format, 6 questions were introduced to the tables: 1 every 6 minutes. When the bell rang for a question, those designated “Movers” moved to the next table to form new discussion groups.

1. Are people using anything for remote training, or creating training sessions for an intranet?

Regardless of it being “live” or remote, the delivery needs to be best suited to the training. Tailored personal training is best done in real time. For general “how to”, or inductions, pre-recorded content can work better.

Blogs, Google Docs, Totara, Blackboard, Jabber, Mentimeter, Captivate, Camtasia, YouTube, SharePoint, WebEx and Skype were all mentioned as platforms for remote training, so there’s no shortage of known options to consider.

Considerations of using those included:

  • IT requirements to access training (workplace access?)
  • How the training is best delivered (i.e. video, written, interactive…
  • Size / location of user group requiring training
  • Will it improve training for anyone with reduced mobility or with a condition such as autism?
  • Ways to keep the training current and reliable
  • How to monitor the training using feedback and follow ups to establish evidence of its worth and, crucially, develop it

MOOCS were mentioned as an area where information services could direct their users towards, albeit external, training.

The Scottish Government Library Blog was cited as a good example of the possibilities for remote training. The Scottish Courts Information Service is extending its training and considering online video tech to reach geographically distant service users.  SWOP, too, is looking to establish e-learning resouces for Official Publications through collaborating with public libraries.

2. What do you want from a professional organisation?

Those employed in law and government information sectors are fortunate to be able to look to a variety of professional organisations. A membership to one does not preclude the need or desire to be a member of one or two more.

Relevant networking, CPD potential and support are the most sought aspects in choosing a group.

Further specified aspects were:

  • Locality of events
  • “Goodwill” between members
  • Bursaries
  • Social media presence
  • Job vacancy news

There was some detailed discussion of particular groups.

SLLG was praised for holding events which allow networking and for enabling members to contact one another. As a smaller group, the SLLG is noted to offer good chances to get involved with committee participation and gain skills such as event planning and website administration.

SWOP offers great informality of no fixed membership. This creates a wider mix from sectors and innovative engagement of members.

CILIP is seen as the most “professional” group with advanced CPD structures covering the widest range of the information sector. Overall, CILIP can be seen as a high cost membership for its law sector members.

BIALL is viewed as having a lot of potential in the law librarianship sector, however is too England-centric for events and training.

A membership of any group is seen as positive. The ability to compare ideas, ask advice about services and gain confidence through peer support is vital for an information professional’s success.

3. What social media platforms do you use professionally and what are the benefits?

There has been a steady move to enthusiasm around the potential to be found in social media in the workplace. It is seen as a legitimate tool for collaboration and information sources.

Social media use for the workplace tends to be governed by workplace policy. Often this policy aims to restrict the media rather than promote how to use it well. Responsibility for a workplace social platform is sometimes given to a dedicated department or junior level employee. This underplays most benefits of having the platform.

From a professional output view point, reasons for social media:

  •  Users expect the information service to have a social media presence
  • Wider and closer engagement with service users and prospective users

From a professional input view point for social media:

  • Following academics and commentators to gain insights and trends
  • A means to ask questions and be part of events without physically attending (e.g. via hashtags)

Social media, used professionally, requires careful thought, planning and hard work.

Platforms have expanded beyond just one or two. Information users, likewise, have expanded to a presence on more platforms. The onus is on the information service to create access points on more of these platforms.

Key is finding suitable platforms for the information intended for the audience. Twitter is best for immediacy with regular engagement. Facebook is best for posting longer term information (events, opening times…) and users checking with only occasional frequency. Students are likely to jump between multiple platforms, expecting the information to be sent to them. Lawyers tend to visit one established platform and will ask for information when they need it.

There is content to give thought to. A social platform can lose the identity of the service as quickly as it enhances it. A library’s staff might be friendly in person but have a social media which is distant and non-responsive. An account might post views a service should not have an opinion on or, worse, oppose the values of the service. Advice is – where possible – be friendly, engaged and give good information in context and try to bring a personality through which reflects the service.

Privacy is an issue. Although social media is good for discovering more about a workplace, it is also a means to do this prior to an interview or meeting. Could the account possibly create unhelpful or unwanted preconceptions? Be careful of how the work environment and colleagues are perceived in posts.

To check how your workplace twitter account may be perceived, try the tool Analyze Words for a bit fun.

The SLLG Twitter account was commended as a good example of social media.

4. What benefits and disadvantages of digital only government information?

The Scottish Government opted to only publish born digital material from 2007. As part of this decision, an agreement was reached with the National Library of Scotland (NLS) to be a mirror depository for government publications. In this way both the Scottish Government and NLS are access points to obtain this material.

Negatives:

  • If the link is broken, the document is not available
  • Material no longer requires an ISBN, removing a unique access point
  • There is no reliable contact for help
  • No curated material into logical bundles of associated papers (thereby not taking advantage of the new digital format)
  • Each document needs searched for individually
  • If an item is not in the database, there is no way of knowing if lost or never created
  • Documents not any easier to find if they were in print
  • No legacy links to previous department names, so knowledge of name changes and when occurred can be vital
  • Accessibility – should be accessible to all, but online requires connection to the internet and IT literacy to mine for the information.

Archiving of documents is a worry. Although the most current material coverage is good, there is little commercial incentive to maintain a robust archive. The result is archive material often difficult to obtain.

Positives:

  • Full-text searching, including Google search
  • Corporate users want online format flexibility
  • Reduced cost and storage requirements
  • Added security of information through NLS
  • Accessibility –  those interested in the material no longer need to travel to a building

It appears born digital materials from the Scottish Government still have some way to go to persuade us that they are better than in paper.

5. Best practice for libraries importing Official Publications metadata?

The NLS has an agreement to record and make available material deposited by the Scottish Government within one week of publication. There is a long term plan to batch publically available records linking back to the NLS server. These can be imported into a library catalogue.

There were some implications for those looking to import /create record data.

  • Users need to know they are linking to the authoritative Official Publication
  • Variance in standards and quality of records to an in-house catalogue is almost inventible
  • Outsourced catalogues mean a loss of control for the library

Although some libraries have removed the need for cataloguers by outsourcing, there was an acknowledgment of the importance of good and consistent records to find materials.

Some potential best practices were:

  • Improve access by adapting imported records into house style to help with user familiarity
  • Redirect users searching for Official Publications to the NLS OPAC

Faith in records being searched, imported or created, was the main ambition for library staff.

6. Using BREXT as an example, what are the best resources and ways for efficient and up-to-date Current Awareness (CA)?

CA comes in so many options, there is no single aggregator which has everything. It is crucial to find a compromise of expectation. Some service users are happy with the daily newspapers, others expect something more complex.

There is a feeling law firms are more in need of tailored CA than in other law practices. Solicitors market themselves as cutting edge and their clients need impact assessments based on latest and future business and legal developments. Academic, and lawyers “higher up” (such as sheriffs and judges), tend not to demand so much of this information or knowledge.

With reference to the example in the question, BREXT has been monetised by some commercial CA providers. However, no one at the networking had purchased such a package.

SPICe bulltins and the Scottish Government Library newsfeed were cited as good sources of BREXIT information. Publishers (e.g. Thomson Reuters) have resources such as BREXT trackers. Blogs and mainstream media were also cited.

Twitter, RSS feeds, mailing lists and a library page of resource links were ideas for efficient ways to keep up to date with CA and BREXIT.

There was debate if the intellectual work required to sort forecast commentary and irrelevant editorials from only authoritative materials brought into departmental “round-ups” was simply too much for too little value.

Although CA is time consuming to put together and deliver, whatever the method, it will hopefully achieve the aim of reducing the amount of times users will resort to Google and reading inaccurate information. Which is probably the aim for all our services across the board, really.

DING-DING!

And with this the round-table-round-up is over. Now, if only we could re-enact the eating of crisps and cocktail sausages and have a glass or two of wine.

Both sets of group members really enjoyed the discussions and format of the event. As you can see, a lot of ground can be covered by librarians in just 6 minutes.

The committee would very much like to thank Christine Macleod (SLLG)  and Sharron Wilson (SWOP) for working together in organising the event. The committee also thanks Christine Wilcox for the use of the SSC Library. Finally, on behalf of both SLLG and SWOP, we would like to thank all those who attended and contributed to make an excellent event.

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Moving Image Archive tour and social, 21 August 2017

kelvin-hall

12-screen video wall, Steenbeck flatbed editor and SLLG members browsing film memorabilia

Last week, a group of SLLG members dandered along to Kelvin Hall, home of the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive since September 2016.

Following a £35 million refurbishment, Kelvin Hall reopened last year as one of the UK’s biggest museums and research centres, a project in joint partnership between Glasgow University, the Hunterian, Glasgow Museums, the National Library of Scotland and Glasgow City Council.

As well as hosting the Moving Image Archive, this interactive space allows visitors to access the National Library’s digital licensed collections including films, maps, books and manuscripts in electronic format.

Moving Image Archive

For those who are unfamiliar, the Archive, previously a department of the one-time Scottish Screen, has been part of the National Library of Scotland since 2007. Its main purpose is to collect, preserve and promote access to films capturing Scottish culture and history, from the early days of film-making to the present day. In addition, the Archive includes a wide range of manuscript, printed material and memorabilia (check out the Steenbeck) relating to the development of cinema exhibition and film production in Scotland since 1896.

Learning and outreach

Moving from the outskirts of Glasgow last year to this more prominent position in the West End, public engagement is high on the agenda with opportunities for further learning provided through screenings, workshops, projects and online resources such as Scotland on Screen.

The National Library at Kelvin Hall is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, with Mondays and Wednesday mornings reserved for appointment-only visits by school classes and special-interest groups such as ours!

Learning and Outreach Officer, Sheena MacDougall, was our very knowledgeable guide for the afternoon. As a filmmaker herself, Sheena’s passion for the collections was clear and she deftly handled group members’ many and varied questions relating to acquisition, preservation and cataloguing of items, while providing us with opportunities to explore the interactive screens and exhibits.

Using footage

Of course, “us law librarians” were interested to learn about copyright policies and trends. Like other formats, much will depend on method of acquisition, whether they be home movies donated by family members or cellulose nitrate reels (saved from a closing picture house) awaiting spontaneous combustion in someone’s attic! For items in copyright, the Library doesn’t give permission directly but can, where possible, provide copyright holder contact details on a case-by-case basis.

Professional filmmakers may receive public investment on the proviso that content is made accessible by the Archive, either onsite only or remotely via the website. The Moving Image Archive catalogue includes copyright information, as well as filters such as “Video availability” allowing you to select content based on permissions. More information on using footage can be found on the Archive website, including how to obtain copies of films.

A sense of place

Other catalogue filters include year, place, subject and many more, providing a hook for people of all ages and backgrounds. SLLG members got stuck in browsing by familiar towns (Largs, Melrose…) and were transported to different places and times with folk doing the same old things: singing, chasing after balls and sailing doon the watter.

It’s easy to envisage public libraries, schools and community groups finding great uses for this national resource, especially considering that screen media is the dominant form of cultural communication in this country. Again, the Scotland on Screen website contains further information on moving image education (MIE), including tutorials on discussing and analysing films, as well as creating a moving image essay.

West End delights

I could go on and on about this treasure trove of film and video but we must move on, as we did down Argyle Street to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, BrewDog and finally Mother India restaurant (“Not the café!”) on Westminster Terrace.

It may be a cliché but Mother India is a Glasgow, and now Edinburgh, institution. What a treat to dine on delicious food and catch up with long-standing, new and returning members before dashing for the train back east.

Many thanks to all who helped to make the afternoon and evening a success.

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.

Scottish Legal Information Centre SSNaP – 30th March 2017

The Group SSNaP series continued on 30th March with a presentation of the work undertaken by SLLG members Roddy and Emma, librarians at the Solicitors Legal Information Centre.

VictoriaQuay 300317

SLLG members heading to the SSNaP at The Scottish Government Building, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh.

The 11 group members who attended this Short Skills Networking and Presentation were treated to an enlightening and entertaining hour or so with Emma and Roddy (both past SLLG convenors), finding out about the work of the Solicitors Legal Information Centre.

Located in the Scottish Government buildings at Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, the department resides in the legislative heart of the Scottish administration.

Throughout the 45 minute presentation, SLLG members were extremely impressed at the detailed know-how and level of research undertaken daily by the centre’s professional information and library staff.

The centre provides information services for over 200 government lawyers and policy colleagues. These services include legal research, document supply and current awareness packages. The centre also provides resource training and access to a law library. Behind the scenes, the team manage subscriptions, material purchases and advises on knowledge management as well as being involved with aspects of wider library consultancy.

In 2016, the team undertook 1,828 enquiries with 7,784 documents supplied. The enquiry service continues to increase in use year on year and the most common enquiry work handled is, perhaps not surprisingly, legislative.

Emma and Roddy comprehensively talked through some typical and a few atypical enquiries they’ve recently dealt with.

From putting together a research package into the background of an Act of the Scottish Parliament… through to answering the query if The Queen can lawfully hunt Scottish swans, the team approach all the enquiries with thoroughness and expert data mining skills. So much so, indeed, the team is often in contact with Westlaw with corrections to their database of Scottish & UK legislation.

An interesting element of the work is the careful negotiation of confidentiality. This was particularly illustrated with the appeal from the Scottish Government to the UK Supreme court regarding legal arguments for the vote to enact the bill for Article 50 to be a devolved matter. Both the Scottish Government lawyers and the Whitehall Government made use of the SLIC research service in this matter.

With the current constitutional environment in the UK, the centre is experiencing a surge in complex enquiries and is preparing for an influx of additional government lawyers to the service. The next few years will certainly keep Roddy, Emma and the rest of the small team busy.

After, Emma and Roddy were kind enough to let us peak behind the curtain and take a walk round their library and office space (and take in their lovely view of the docklands).

The SLLG committee thank Roddy and Emma for their time and giving us such a wonderful insight into their work. The feedback from those who were there has been glowing.

Our SSNaPs continue to be popular for both sides of the event as they can give as much back to the host as they do to those in attendance, which is really fantastic. As Emma commented:

We really enjoyed hosting our SSNaP session. We were a bit worried beforehand that attendees might find it a bit dry and technical, but from the feedback we have received it seems that people found it interesting. A few attendees even remarked that they were going to immediately add some of our examples to their own knowledge hubs, which is great to hear!

Of the logistics in putting on the SSNaP event, Emma said:

In terms of organising the SSNaP it was all quite straight forward. Faye and the SLLG Committee did all of the advertising and collated the list of attendees so all we had to do was arrange a space here (not always that easy as conference rooms are at a bit of a premium). Faye also kindly coordinated with the Rose Leaf for the meal afterwards. I did spend an inordinate amount of time on my hand-outs but that was my own stubbornness coming into play as I was determined to have an infographic style short hand-out despite never having created an infographic before!

It’s great that SSNaPs can provide training and skills experiences for the host too: the infographic handout was very professional, Emma!

On a personal note, Emma added:

I would recommend that any SLLG members considering hosting a SSNaP should give it a go. It is really quite informal so good for people like me, who are not that fond of public speaking and big presentations.

Faye was unable to make the presentation but fortunately was able to come along to the socialising of the attendees afterwards. Here is Faye’s vivid sketch of this:

The staff canteen at Victoria Quay has earned a place in many a Civil Servant’s heart: morning rolls after a dip in the staff pool; fish and chips on Fridays… Sadly, yet understandably, they wind things up after lunchtime so over the road we went for a bite to eat and a catch-up.

Leith is of course recognised as a foodie haven with an abundance of restaurants to choose from. We settled on the Roseleaf, a perfect blend of family pub and chintzy café, for several reasons: their menu caters to all tastes and dietary needs – Scottish to Thai; vegan to coeliac – and their drink selection is pretty impressive too. Most of us went for one of their homemade fizzies, including ginger beer and rose lemonade, but real ales and “pot-tails” continue to draw in happy customers. After heaping praise on Emma and Roddy, the conversation moved to every librarian’s favourite subject…telly: Line of Duty; The Replacement; every HBO series ever made. Don’t judge – even the lawyers are at it (spoiler alert). We also managed to discuss more professional endeavours – namely, further study and summer conferences.

It’s always imperative to pick a winner when it comes to menu choices and think the award goes to Kayleigh – her Barry beetroot burger looked very nice and apparently tasted pretty good too. It’s always a pleasure to meet fellow law librarians in a social capacity so I look forward to seeing more of you at our next SSNaP and of course the 2017 AGM in May.

If any member would like more information for having a little SSNaP chat of their own with other members, please say hello to anyone on the committee. We will be delighted to hear from you.