ARCHIVED: Special Committee to Develop Performance Measures for Law Librarians Article - 2002

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Reprinted from The Orange Peel (Issue 3; Tuesday, July 23, p. 1, 8),
the convention newspaper of the American Association of Law Libraries' 95th Annual Meeting (Orlando, 2002)

Measure for Measure: Competencies and Law Librarians
by Bobbie Studwell, Chair

Special Committee to Develop Performance Measures for Law Librarians

Are you a firm or special librarian working on you own? Are you a member of a large court, county or academic library organization? Do you wonder how your skills stack up to others in similar or very different organizations? Do you wonder if the annual performance evaluation undertaken by your organization really reflects the skill sets you use every day as a librarian? These are questions the Special Committee to Develop Performance Measures for Law Librarians has been exploring for the past year. We now need your input.

Approximately two years ago, AALL developed a set of competencies for law librarianship. To help law librarians attain these competencies, we need to find ways to measure progress towards that goal. Our committee has focused our efforts on locating information developed by experts in other fields, such as the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Additionally, relying on advice we have received experts in the performance competency field, we have created a list of key elements or criteria derived from the previous AALL list of competencies. We need you to validate that list and our ideas.

The committee members listed below will solicit input on the list of measurable criteria and definitions found at the end of this article. These elements or criteria fall into the following broad competency areas; a) Functional Expertise/Knowledge/Abilities, b) Communication Skills, c) Leadership, d) Professional Perspective, and e) Personal Attributes.

During the remainder of the Annual Meeting, if you have other ideas or questions about our work, you can personally contact the committee members attending this year's meeting: Chair, Bobbie Studwell, Sarah Reneker Andeen, Darcy Kirk, Michele Finerty, Carol Suhre, and Mary Jane Kelsey. After the meeting you can also contact: Michael Miller and Denny Haythorn.

By the end of the fall, a survey for you to use to validate our work will be sent to selected members of the Association. We hope you will take a little of your valuable time to fill it out and help us move into our committee's final phase of thinking and innovation which includes the development of a competency measurement device that can be used in all types of law libraries. Our committee's final report and measurement device ideas will be available at next year's Annual Meeting.

Critical Competency Criteria and Definitions

Functional Expertise/Knowledge/Abilities

Mental Agility
--Ability to deal with multiple issues and details; alert; possesses broad learning capacity; approach problems resourcefully and creatively; actively pursues related information
Problem Solving--Anticipates problems, determines the nature of problems by asking appropriate questions, invites ideas, reviews documentation, determines probable causes, and implements solutions
Attention to Detail--Ability to review details quickly; keep accurate records; produce error-free work
Personal Attributes/Qualities

Accountability--Maintains motivation when faced with challenges; takes initiative beyond routine responsibilities; meets deadlines; accepts responsibility for mistakes
Adaptability/Flexibility--Responsive to changes in the library organization and to the work styles of others; maintains focus on a task or project in the face of numerous interruptions; when interrupted, judges how to proceed
Client Focus--Demonstrates a concern for the needs and expectations of clients and makes them a high priority; maintains contact with clients; understands client needs and makes them the focus of organizational decision making and action
Persistence--Can see problems or issues through to completion; overcomes organizational or structural barriers
Enthusiasm-Willingness to actively promote and advocate for the library profession, the institution, and others; promotes and advocates both to other librarians and to non-librarians
Self-Management--Ability to maintain motivation and work independently for extended periods of time with minimal support and approval; takes initiative

Professional Perspective

Understanding People--Perceives and responds to behavioral cues; have insight into the reasons underlying the behavior and actions of others; can analyze the motives and feelings of colleagues, clients, and others
Teamwork--Ability to work effectively with other groups in order to further the common goals of the institution
Community Perspective-Understands the role the library plays within the larger community; recognizes the importance of other departments and works to achieve the best solution for the entire institution
Reliability/Trustworthiness--Behaves consistently and predictably; is dependable, able to gain trust by being honest; works with integrity; and meets commitments
Empathy--Understands and displays sensitivity to others needs and concerns; minimizes anxiety and frustration
Tactfulness--Respectfully responds to information requests; handles colleagues, clients, and others in one-on-one and group meetings with poise and diplomacy; respects the ideas and input of others; and respectfully suggests or implements divergent solutions
Ethics-High personal and professional standards; is fair and honest


Risk Taking--Takes calculated, prudent risks; open to experimenting with new approaches to discover if they will be successful; takes responsibility for making difficult decisions; willing to implement solutions and ideas which may be unpopular, new, or different
Critical Analysis--Synthesizes diverse information and analyzes data in order to make informed decisions
Credibility-Keeps promises; honors commitments; accepts responsibility for mistakes; hones and truthful when communicating information; behaves consistently with espoused values
Negotiation-Compromises and reaches acceptable solutions without alienating others in the process; can influence others both within and outside the institution; persuasively presents thoughts and ideas; can make appropriate trade?offs; wins concessions without damaging relationships; and influences, motivates and persuades others in order to achieve institutional and departmental objectives
Vision-Conceptualizes what tools are needed by the library in order to effectively implement programs

Communication Skills

Oral Communication--Speaks to clients and others clearly, professionally and tactfully; explains complicated issues and procedures simply and accurately; able to identify users' level of knowledge and provides understandable information; translates technical jargon into understandable terms
--Speaks to clients and others clearly, professionally and tactfully; explains complicated issues and procedures simply and accurately; able to identify users' level of knowledge and provides understandable information; translates technical jargon into understandable terms
Writing Skills-Able to expresses ideas clearly and concisely on paper
Listening--Recognizes feelings, concerns and underlying messages of others; identifies important information in oral transactions, pays attention to orally presented facts and details
Sociability--Desires and values interaction with others; relates to a wide variety of people; works effectively with others to accomplish common goals.
Consulting--Checks with people before making changes that affect them; encourages participation in decision making; allows others to influence decisions
Presentation Skills--Able to teach the use of available resources and tools; gives directions clearly; advocates effectively for library concerns and issues
Maintaining Open Relationships--Promotes and maintains clear lines of communication with a wide range of individuals and entities