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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. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.

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12/19/2013 7:00:00 PM

A Law Librarian at the Internet Librarian Conference

I had the good fortune to attend the Internet Librarian Conference (Internet Librarian) this year. The conference began in 1997 and is currently held every year in Monterey, CA. And, it will be in Monterey next year, too (October 27-29, 2014). Internet Librarian is organized and produced by Information Today, Inc. It bills itself as the “internet conference and exhibition for librarians and information managers.” This well-attended conference had about 1000 attendees visiting from 45 states and 6 countries.

Theme and programming
This year’s theme was “Community Engagement:  Strategies, Services & Tools.” Internet Librarian has an interesting set up. There were 3 primary days of programming with a daily keynote address. Programs are divided into 5 daily tracks with each program from a track in the same conference room all day. For example, Day 1 had the following tracks:  1) Discovery, Navigation & Search, 2) Transforming Web Presence, 3) Engaging our Communities, 4) Library Issues & Challenges, and 5) Internet@Schools. And, each room has a host for the day. The host introduces the program and presenters and then facilitates questions at the end of the program. Attendees can attend all the sessions from a particular track or hop around from room to room.

Two keynote speakers addressed the state of libraries, but they seemed to contradict each other. The opening keynote speaker, Peter Morville, president of Semantic Studios, thinks libraries have a problem. He says the perception of the library as a knowledge gateway is declining. However, the perception of the library as a purchasing agent is increasing. He went on to say that the library is an idea at risk and that we need more than just information architects, we need “inspiration architects.”

On the other hand, Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center talked about how libraries are deeply important and that people love libraries and librarians. Pew research shows that even those who don’t use the library are fans. Rainie thinks we can leverage that to get involved in community issues and to become community leaders. He suggests that we should feel empowered to speak up because librarians’ voices are some of the most valued in our communities.

One of the more interesting programs was “The Next Big Thing.” As you can imagine, it involved a panel of librarians sharing what they thought was the next big thing in libraries. But, the more interesting aspect of the program was that the bulk of it was spent on audience members’ predictions. For instance, I learned that libraries are already using 3d printers to lure patrons into the library. Also, big data is big already, but one person said we’ll be using metrics even more than we are already to demonstrate how effective we are as librarians.

There were also a couple of evening programs for attendees. The Tuesday evening session was very interesting. Titled “Community Engagement Info Blitz,” 5 librarians shared innovate ways they engaged their communities. There, I learned about EveryLibrary, a political action committee dedicated to helping local library ballot measures pass. They’ve already earned local libraries millions.

Attending a non-law library conference
Often it can help to step out of the law librarianship world to see how other libraries are transforming services. Maybe a public library has created an innovative service that would be useful in a law firm. An undergraduate library could have developed a web page for video tutorials that a law school library could use to model its own web page. Also, some things are universal to libraries. For example, patrons use catalogs to locate resources in all types of libraries. A couple librarians at Creighton University shared their experiences setting up iPad kiosks stationed around the library for patron access to the catalog.

And, if you must have some law library programming, not all hope is lost. There was one law library related program. Amy Affelt at Compass Lexecon presented a program titled “Continuing the Engagement.” Her informative program discussed getting attorneys engaged through various activities such as unique book discussions where the librarian reads the book and tells others what it was about. She also maintains alert subscriber lists. She uses them to show new attorneys what their colleagues are using for current awareness to encourage them to sign up too.

While I think the overall conference is more useful for public and undergraduate academic libraries, I certainly picked up some things that I brought back to my own library. I found my Internet Librarian experience valuable and I think you will too. And, did I mention that the conference is in Monterey, CA?

Karen Skinner is a research services librarian at the USC Gould School of Law.

Posted By Karen Skinner at 12/19/2013 7:00:00 PM  0 Comments
12/19/2013 8:07:21 AM

Book Review: Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success

Schawbel, Dan. 2013. Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success. St. Martin’s Press: New York. 250p. $25. ISBN: 978-1-250-04455-6

The workforce is evolving. How workers promote themselves and their work has changed, with “change” being the only constant. This is the theme of Dan Schawbel’s recent book written for the newest people in the workforce, the Millennials. Intended for the youngest generation in the economy, the common sense approach and practical advice are relevant to any employee, including the experienced worker who is looking for a promotion or searching for a new job.

Schawbel’s main areas of discussion include: the importance of soft skills; social media skills; self-promotion; and building relationships or one’s network - both online and in person. The chapters covering these topics are full of how-to information, including the steps a new employee can take to talk with one’s manager about how to succeed in a current position, gain the training necessary for promotion, as well as the characteristics and behavior that make an exceptional employee.

The section on managing one’s social media presence and skills should be read by all employees in the workforce! As more employers use social media to review potential hires, it is imperative for new workers to build a healthy online presence and current employees consciously maintain a good online image. The author emphasizes that employees are an online reflection on their employer; this point should influence employees to think before they post. The author includes advice for creating online content, building digital connections and cleaning up a damaged reputation.

Schawbel’s discussion on building work relationships across generations is an in-depth review of the current workforce, including statistics on how the workplace will change by 2025. The author encourages inter-generation engagement in the workplace through an understanding of generational values, work styles and communication preferences. Schawbel suggests Millennial employees be proactive in asking for advice, searching for a work mentor and for participating in projects that allow their technology skills to shine.

The book finishes strong with chapters on how to turn one’s passion into a promotion, using intrapreneurship in one’s current job to explore new projects or opportunities that will benefit one’s company, and how to evaluate when to move up, sideways within the company or move on to a new position or job. The author’s commentary on job hopping and starting a business are must read advice for all employees. 

This book is recommended for all types of libraries, in particular academic libraries. As librarians interact on a regular basis with Millennials as students, student workers or new colleagues, this resource will help the reader understand the newest generation in the workforce. For new employees, this book is an excellent guide on how to standout in the workplace, effectively promote one’s work and be aware of the soft skills necessary to thrive in the competitive workplace. The real world examples provided by the author balance the advice and suggestions for new employees, providing an easy-to-read manual for managing one’s career.

Marcia L. Dority Baker is the Access Services Librarian at Schmid Law Library, University of Nebraska College of Law.

Posted By Marcia Dority Baker at 12/19/2013 8:07:21 AM  0 Comments
TOPICS: Book Review
12/11/2013 8:16:55 AM

Book Review: The Generalist Counsel: How Leading General Counsel are Shaping Tomorrow’s Companies

Dubney, Prashant, and Eva Kripalani, The Generalist Counsel:  How Leading General Counsel are Shaping Tomorrow’s Companies (Oxford:  Oxford Univ. Press, 2013), ISBN 978-0-19-989235-8 (softcover), xvii + 193p p. (incl. index), $49.95.

As law librarians, our work supports a profession often deemed incapable of innovation.   Not so in the office of the general counsel –or the generalist counsel, as Dubney and Kripalani dub this position.  The authors, Kripalani herself a former general counsel, stake out the world of in-house legal work as incredibly dynamic, spurring changes in not only the companies GCs serve but also making broader waves across the legal profession.

So what is a generalist counsel?  No longer a “minor management figure,” the authors claim,  “[t]oday, leading General Counsel are sought out by their peers on the senior leadership team for strategic input to decisions that will move the business forward” (p. 2, xiv).  This term speaks to a “significantly broader skill set” than that traditionally honed among general counsel or law firm partners, for that matter.  Generalist Counsels not only master the law but also function as a key part of the corporate team.  Success in this position requires a host of proficiencies not often instilled in the traditional law firm setting:  communication, trust-building, understanding the corporation’s business in detail, and critical risk-assessment.

Just as generalist counsel are being shaped by the new business environment, they are shaping a new legal environment and join this evolution.  The authors offer some advice about how law firms can improve their relationships with in-house counsel.  Law firms will face greater scrutiny in light of the more sophisticated skill set of their clients, and they will benefit from heightened attention to the business context of their advice.

The authors rely heavily on personal narratives to convey their vision of the generalist counsel and how to become one, providing concrete illustrations.  One of the most memorable of these came from Jeff Kindler.   After a stint at a firm, Kindler became general counsel at McDonald’s.  When the company bought Boston Market, Kindler saw opportunity where others did not.  As a result, he was given executive control of brand, acting not as its general counsel but as its president.  Kindler’s story illustrates the interwoven nature of legal judgment and business acumen the authors see as the essence of the generalist counsel.

 The authors successfully craft a broader framework from these stories in many ways, but the book could deploy that framework more effectively.  For example, the authors describe various paths to achieve the generalist counsel title, outlining three main categories:  fatalist, careerist, opportunist.  Described in the second chapter, these labels loose some heft, as the authors do not leverage them throughout the work.  In spite of these occasional missed opportunities, however, this title remains a valuable one for most libraries.

The authors provide lots of advice for those interested in becoming a generalist counsel.  But it also merits a place in both law firm and law school libraries.  Firms can learn much about how to improve their relationships with and service to in-house counsel.  Law schools will also benefit, in part because the authors offer specific curricular advice, including project management courses.

Susan Azyndar is a reference librarian and adjunct professor at the Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University.

Posted By Susan Azyndar at 12/11/2013 8:16:55 AM  0 Comments
TOPICS: book reviews