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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.