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

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.

NETWORKING

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

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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.

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.