SLLG Speed Networking meeting: 3 February, 2016

Wednesday 3 February saw Group members gather for what will be the last mass discussion group for a while.  The event was very well received, so thank you for the positive feedback, and for coming along.

For those who couldn’t make it, here is a summary of the outcome.

  1. Innovation in our information services.

There was a general sense across all discussion groups that innovations don’t need to be big, and in fact many of us just experience them as small process changes.

It was felt that innovation is innate in our culture as we are always seeking to improve and do things differently. Sometimes things have to be done in a certain way, but it is always worth questioning why and if they can be done in a better way, which leads to a slow evolution, rather than something as dramatic as innovation.

It is important to be open to change, be proactive and take on new duties, get involved in new strategies, or embrace new technologies, but it was sometimes difficult to get the support of other people such as IT departments.

It was also a case of adapting in reaction to external changes eg the cessation of print sources and move to born digital sources. Or it could be the incorporation of new technologies into working practices eg use of social media for communication and RRS feeds into intranet systems, or the use of new services/providers such as statistic-collecting service ZoHo creative or a will search service.

Some members are involved in revamping existing services such as wiki site restructuring and migrating data into new systems.

For members of staff in institutional libraries, it was felt that there was little opportunity for large-scale innovation.  It tended to be along the lines of keeping up with trends eg installing new technology.

For commercial firms there is a pressure for information services to be innovative in order to be visible and relevant.  The ideas seem to come from other firms and so it is again a case of copying the trends in order to stay competitive eg sector awareness, horizon scanning etc, but every firm will be inventive in the way it goes about implementing these innovations.

Some libraries have been innovative with their building and one member recently had their library used as concert space and with the event advertised on twitter.

  1. Top tips for a successful service induction.
  • Preparation.
  • Sending an initial letter/email about your services but avoiding overloading it with information.
  • Frequently reviewing and tailoring sessions to individuals and to keep them up to date eg new trainees don’t know how to use books anymore!
  • Sending a follow-up email after induction.
  • One-to-ones are better than groups.
  • Keeping it short.
  • Being generally approachable, accessible after the session etc.
  • Tempting membership/uptake/interaction with offer of lunch or something fun such as a quiz.
  • In person is better as connection problems etc through Webex etc.
  1. Current awareness/horizon scanning services

Updates are usually time-consuming to produce and it was felt that is important to know that people are reading them so we can gauge how useful they are. Some members have taken the approach of ceasing producing them without complaints being received.  Others have found that theirs are surprisingly widely read and so well received.

It was felt it was important to keep them as easy to read as possible in this day and age of too much information so people can see at a quick glance if there’s anything relevant to them.

Sector awareness and horizon scanning were the big thing in commercial law firms, with information services being expected to have access to industry, rather than legal, information, and to monitor industry and regulatory changes which are only distant possibilities which is valued by clients and marketing departments. It can be difficult to source accurate information and find out much detail in some cases, and in others it is hard to managed the flood of information such as from parliaments.

Members recommended products such as Nexis’s Newsdesk, and Linex which monitors sources including RSS feeds and press releases. It covers sectors, companies and business areas.  Email lists, seminars, contacts and social events were felt to be useful sources for future awareness.

One librarian had found it useful to monitor upcoming legal changes in order to plan for the impact of related new books on the budget for budget planning purposes, but this was countered by the usual problems of publication schedule changes.  We all monitored Wildy’s, Avizandum and Green’s lists to try to keep up to date in this area.

What we’re starting to find hard to keep up to date with is the cessation of print resources in favour of electronic only.  Lexis recently issued a new edition on Lexis library only – consequently it doesn’t have an ISBN, and shops didn’t seem to have been notified and still had the old edition for sale as if it was the latest edition.  The publishers don’t seem to be good at communicating these changes to its customers either, eg Lexis is changing 10 looseleaf titles to be electronic only.

  1. Professional Achievements

Most of us were pleased to have got a job, kept their job, or simply turned up to work in 2015!

Some were more ambitious and had increased their working hours, integrated two library collections or chaired the BIALL website Committee.

Others put these achievements to shame by winning a mooting competition or BIALL Supplier of the Year!

One member has embarked on their chartership after being inspired by the article “Closing the gap: the five essential attributes of the modern information professional”.  If you have a Westlaw subscription you can read it here: L.I.M. 2014, 14(4), 258-265.







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!

SLLG Speed Networking event, 28 January 2015

The group year was kicked off in style for 2015 with the annual Speed Networking Event. This event remains the most popular attended event of the year, with its “speed” style of networking where it is never too long before the next topic is brought up for discussion.

The SSC Library in Edinburgh provided the ideal location for members to gather on what turned out to be a very wintery late afternoon.

Attendees are able to set the agenda for discussions by submitting topics prior to the meeting and this year the questions ran through a varied set of themes:

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

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?

3. Professional use of social media
Do you use social media 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?

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

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

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

Members keenly swapped thoughts and experiences during this formal part of the event, before the evening’s refreshments were served and talk turned to catching up on news and latest fashions. During the refreshments, the (in)famous SLLG prize draw sponsored by Avizandum Books was made and 5 lucky members won super library sector related prizes!

1st prize in the draw! (from the British Library shop)

1st prize! (from the British Library shop)

All too soon, after, it was time to depart into the evening, where the blizzard conditions thankfully slowed to a Christmas card scene and didn’t continue into an outtake for the film, Absolute Zero.

The Committee would like to thank everyone who attended. It was great to see many familiar faces and exciting to meet some of our brand-new members too! The Committee would also like to especially thank the library staff of the SSC Library for hosting us and allowing us to party into the evening among the Session Cases.

The blog will compile and post a short set of notes from the event discussions in due course.