AALL Spectrum Blog


The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. The previous Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
7/28/2014 2:30:32 PM

AALL Session Review: H-5: Law Librarianship in the Digital Age


Jennifer Alexander: McKenna Long & Aldridge
Scott D. Bailey, Squire Sanders
Valeri Craigle, University of Utah
William R. Mills, New York Law School
Ralph A. Monaco, New York Law Institute
Carol Ottolenghi, Ohio Attorney General
C. Andrew Plumb-Larrick, Case Western Reserve University
Thomas Striepe, University of Georgia

This unique session managed to keep my attention for the entire hour even though it was in the last time slot of the conference. The eight speakers listed above all wrote chapters in the recently published monograph Law Librarianship in the Digital Age edited by the program’s moderator, Ellysa Kroski of the New York Law Institute and published by Scarecrow Press.  What made this session different from many others I’ve attended is that each speaker on the panel presented using PechaKucha 20X20 style. This is a Japanese presentation style in which each talk consists of 20 images (or slides) each shown for just 20 seconds before automatically moving to  the next slide.  Each talk was about 7 minutes in length – and featured interesting photos or slides, and was thus concise and memorable.  Many presenters added humorous photos/slides which were a welcome addition and an aid in remembering content.

This program was a glimpse into the content of the book,  Law Librarianship in the Digital Age which is a guidebook for law librarians who want to become digitally literate as well as gain an understanding  of recent advancements and trends in information technology.  I learned so much during this program that I can’t possibly share all of it, but here are my main takeaways.

From Bill Mills on Tablets and Mobile Device Management:

  • Librarians need to be seen as trending and trend setters
  • Librarians as managers of digital resources and devices is one way to be trend setters.

From T.J. Striepe on Embedded Librarianship

  • Embedded librarianship is on a sliding scale that goes from visiting patrons where they are to actually living there with them.
  • Form a relationship with your patrons
  • Librarians at the University of Georgia roam the faculty hallways with iPads to demonstrate legal research apps, but also to talk about non library topics so that they can build relationships.

From Carol Ottolenghi on Digital Age Marketing

  • It’s not enough to do good. We need to be caught being good.
  • We need to sell the librarian skill set to our users, our potential users and to the people who control the budget.
  • Tell them in ways that they can hear you.

From Scott Bailey on the Future of Law Librarianship

  • Librarians are the product. Don’t let the tools (or the vendor) get in front of you.
  • Monetize your services and show how you add value.
  • Go to your patrons and communicate in the language of your business – be relevant!
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment

I just ordered the book and am looking forward to reading and learning even more. Thanks to Ellyssa for moderating this program and to all of the speakers. For more information on the book see the AALL Spectrum Blog review here.

Posted By Elizabeth Holmes at 7/28/2014 2:30:32 PM  4 Comments
2/25/2014 3:30:40 PM

Book Review: Law Librarianship in the Digital Age

Law Librarianship in the Digital Age, edited by Ellyssa Kroski, 2014, Scarecrow Press, 514 pages.  $125.00 (hardback); $75.00 (paperback); 74.99 (e-book).

I am very excited about this book, which I was asked to review specifically from a law firm librarian’s perspective.  Law Librarianship in the Digital Age pulls into one place introductory information on almost every topic about which a law firm librarian might be curious.  The authors, many of whom are considered thought leaders in the field, work in or have experience in every sector of legal librarianship.  In some chapters, private law librarians team up with academic or government or subscription librarians to round out a topic’s breadth and depth.  Where a topic is mainly of interest to non-law-firm librarians, the authors and editors were careful to include a section or sections discussing its application to law firms. 

Just a few of the many chapters in this book that may be of particular interest to law librarians in law firms include:  Law Librarianship 2.0 (by Jennifer Wertkin), Law Library Management (by Camille Broussard, Ralph Monaco and Gitelle Seer), Copyright in the Digital Age (by Kyle K. Courtney), The Cloud (by Roger Vicarius Skalbeck), Electronic Resources Management and User Authentication (by Catherine M. Monte), Competitive Intelligence (by Jennifer Alexander and M.T. Hennessey), and Getting the Most from Major Associations, Publications, and Conferences (by Holly M. Riccio).  The introduction by Jean O’Grady sets the stage for this collection of works addressing the mind-boggling number of roles we now fill.  She states, …the externals of librarianship have been wildly transformed.  But the core mission of the profession—matching people to knowledge—remains intact and drives a vision of the future….(p. xi).

In addition to pulling together introductory information on current topics, Law Librarianship in the Digital Age has helpful bibliographies at the end of every chapter for law firm librarians who wish to delve further into a topic, but who may not have time to collect disparate resources.  Topics are also treated thoroughly.  For example, the chapter by Jennifer Alexander and M. T. Hennessey on competitive intelligence (CI) includes both an overview of what CI is and is not, and in-depth treatment of the topic.  Areas covered in depth include:  The CI research process; CI tools and techniques (e.g., KITS, SWOT, PEST & PESTLE, and Porter’s Five Forces); and key CI tools such as company reports.  The section covering staffing a CI function discusses the advantages and disadvantages of staffing a CI research position with a law librarian.  Advantages include the librarian’s training in online databases and reference work; disadvantages include the potential absence of data analysis and packaging in the librarian’s experience.

The chapter on web-scale discovery and federated search by Valeri Craigle presents a fair-minded discussion regarding the benefits and drawbacks of implementing web-scale discovery platforms.  Though geared primarily for an academic audience, I found Ms. Craigle’s chapter food for thought regarding tailoring the research experience to a user’s needs, and recognizing when more is less, and less is more.  In other words, some users require us to assist them in narrowing their results, while others require a broadening of their results.  This is true regardless of the type of research a patron is conducting or the format the patron is using (i.e., print or electronic), and is one of our greatest challenges, particularly now due to the overwhelming amount of available information.

I read through many other chapters in this book and found that the quality of editing throughout was superb, the bibliographies were thoughtfully constructed, the book was extremely timely, and the writing and organization were clear and helpful.  The table of contents is thorough and serves as a handy checklist of our issues.  The only flaw I found in the book was that the spine on my paperback review copy broke in a week.  However, this may be more a testament to the book’s usefulness than to its production quality.  Well-written and comprehensive in coverage, the book is engaging for both the merely curious and those in need of step-by-step instructions for implementing a change in their library’s services or infrastructure.  I highly recommend Law Librarianship in the Digital Age for any law librarian.

© Heidi W. Heller, 2014.  Director, Research & Information Resources, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hheller@schnader.com.

Posted By Heidi Heller at 2/25/2014 3:30:40 PM  0 Comments