Rolling with social tools

Stephen Perry (ex Freshfields) has joined Headshift as a partner in Headshift's project delivery network and has written a short but very interesting piece called "Rolling out social tools within law firms"

If there is one thing I would take from this article, it is two points within the first two paragraphs of the article;

"Many legal professionals have been slow to embrace social networking and social tools for reasons of; fears of security, privacy breaches, perception of time wasting and Internet horror stories but organisations must learn to manage these risks and challenges, as with previous "new" technologies."

I couldn't agree more! I also like Steve's approach to managing certain aspects of the wiki via a "tight/loose" approach "There are some things you need to grip tightly like the corporate look and feel/branding along with the high level taxonomy but then leave many areas loose and flexible so people experiment and try things out to see what works for them." This seems like a very sensible approach to using this type of tool and to managing them and it has obviously worked well for Freshfields. I hope we'll see more of the same from Steve in the near future.

Sidcup 10 - new PB!

Last Sunday (14/2) I ran the Sidcup 10 mile, this actually started at Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School, so not technically in Sidcup, but we won't hold that against them. The race took in some of the residential roads in the vicinity of the school and was a 3 lap race.

Now I'm not usually a big fan of races that are based on laps, but this was a lovely flat course with only one slight incline so I was keen to see whether I could set a new PB for this distance and whether my ankle would survive the pavement pounding!

Unbelievably I shaved 3 minutes off my previous best time for 10 miles with a time of 1:15:56 and placed 186th out of 389 runners. I was absolutely over the moon with this result and the best thing no ill effects, which is good news as my next race is the Tunbridge Wells 1/2 Marathon.

Looking after the talent

Earlier this week I attended the ARK Group conference Managing your law firm library and information service through challenging times this was a really interesting conference, which you won't be surprised to learn looked at some of the challenges facing Information Managers and Law Librarians.

One of the presentations on the first day looked at how Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance are using "outsourcing" companies to manage some of their library resources. It was very interesting to see how much was being outsourced and also what they were keeping hold of. Unsurprisingly there were a number of questions raised by people attending the session, which were answered in a panel session which followed.

During the panel session, which was hosted by Sarah Fahy and Sara Berry from Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance respectively, several people asked what the impact of outsourcing would be on new professionals. This was a really interesting question at the time, but thinking about it after the Conference makes me slightly uneasy. Not because there are less jobs out there now then there were when I first joined a law firm in 2001 but because of the impact outsourcing will have on those people considering a career in Law Librarianship, the people we need to carry on the hard work we're currently doing.

I don't believe new professionals will stop joining law firms simply because they think the library service might be outsourced but there are certainly some implications for the development of people joining law firms and those people who are already working in a law firm library setting. Some thoughts that occured to me then and since the conference;

  • We all need a career ladder to climb, if responsibilities, work and opportunities are being outsourced, how are individuals expected to gain experience and develop?
  • Will there still be roles like Information Managers, Information Officers and Research Librarians roles are being outsourced?
  • Will there still be graduate library assistant roles?
  • What do we need to do as information professionals to ensure talented individuals are making their way through the "system"?

I certainly don't know the answers to these questions, it may be that in five years time after a number of other law firms have outsourced some of their library services.

I'd love to know what everyone else thinks?

Canterbury 10 mile

On the 31st of January I ran my first race of the 2010 season at the Barretts Canterbury 10 mile race. This was a somewhat of a comeback race, seeing as how I hadn't run a race since September 2009. This was a very well organised race, although parking was a bit of a nightmare...I practically had to run a mile from my parking place to the start line.

If you're a regular reader of this blog you'll know that in the last few weeks I'd been suffering from an ankle injury, which meant I was able to run the Dartford 10 mile, much to my disappointment. So it was no surprise that my final time of 1:22:31 (385th out of 839 runners) was quite slow, although it wasn't helped by a 9:20 first mile.
I certainly hope to improve on this time at my next race the Sidcup 10 mile swiftly followed by the Tunbridge Wells 1/2 marathon.

Will corporate libraries survive or thrive?

The latest edition of the CILIP Gazette carries a very interesting article by Graham Beastall of Soutron asking "Will your library survive or thrive?"

Graham argues that in 2010 the corporate library "...has the opportunity to become one of the few constructs in the corporate body that can provide a sense of continuity"

Given the developments that we've already seen with another two law firm libraries deciding to outsource their library services to Integreon I'm not sure how many law librarians will agree with this statement. Graham goes on to look at some of the key areas for development during 2010.

The first area Graham discusses in Integration Graham argues that "...Librarians who can demonstrate more than a simple OPAC and offer the flexibility within their library systems to do more than store bibliographic data will find an ally" I absolutely agree with this I'd also argue as Graham does that Library managers should be looking at all the systems their responsible for and how they can be integrated across the organisation.

Graham then argues that Library managers will begin to develop a new relationship with technology as users expectations rise, especially with the Web 2.0 functionality that is now available, set againsts a backdrop of limited funding and an economy that "...will inhibit investment in new systems"

The article then discusses in some detail the developmen of Open Source Software. I'm not going to discuss this now as this is the subject of a presentation I'm delivering at "Managing your law firm library and information service through challenging times"

This is a really interesting article, which all corporate librarians should read for some thoughts from a supplier on the challenges facing corporate librarians when working with technology.

Tough times = tough libraries

Like the song says, "when the going gets tough - the tough get going" and it's no different for Libraries in this day and age. So it was great to see a Librarian looking at how Libraries could reduce costs by looking at alternative technology solutions.

I love some of the solutions offered in Sarah Houghton's post "13 Ways (and 147 Tools) to Help Your Library Save Money on Technology" for anyone who'd like to read more about how Libraries can get "tough" I've embedded a recent presentation by Sarah.

A world of connections

The Economist recently published a special report on Social Networking which if you have the time is well worth reading. c
Called "A world of connections" the reports looks at the growth of social networks and some of the issues that arise from their use. From the introduction to the report:

"This special report will examine these issues in detail. It will argue that social networks are more robust than their critics think, though not every site will prosper, and that social-networking technologies are creating considerable benefits for the businesses that embrace them, whatever their size. Lastly it will contend that this is just the beginning of an exciting new era of global interconnectedness that will spread ideas and innovations around the world faster then ever before"

If you don't want to report the full report at once, you don't have to as the Economist have conveniently made the individual articles available on their site, the articles are: