Reflecting on stuff

I don't write too many personal posts, but I've felt compelled to do so given the events that have taken place in the last two weeks, which for me have been quite tough.

For those of you that don't know me well I'm the President of the British & Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL). During my time with BIALL I've worked with a large number of people as a Committee Member, Committee Chair, Council Member, President Elect and now President. I've made long term friends and met some people who have really inspired me.

Of those Sarah Spells definitely falls into the latter "category". I first met Sarah at the BIALL Conference in Edinburgh in 2004 walking up the stairs from I believe a dinosaur exhibition, I could well be wrong as things are a bit hazy from 8 years ago. My immediate impression when I sat down next to her for dinner was that she had a lovely smile and she was very enthusiastic about her job. I enjoyed talking to her about her work and what she was looking forward to at the Conference. I don't recall exactly when I next met Sarah but it was probably at the conference the following year. However it was whilst I was the Web Committee chair and later Council Member that I had most contact with Sarah at Council meetings where she always had a useful point to make or was ribbing me about not ordering water and soft drinks. I'll never forget to order Tea, Coffee AND water ever again that's for sure.

It was a joy to talk to Sarah and she would always share a joke or a laugh and tell us what she was working on, at the most recent Council meeting Sarah had taken great joy in showing everyone present her engagement ring and telling us all about her wedding plans. She was just entering the next stage of her life, so it's tragic that her life ended at the beginning of September.

Whilst listening to the wonderful tributes at her funeral, how busy she was, how much she was giving back to BIALL and the international associations she worked for I began to reflect on my own life as I imagine a lot of people do when attending funerals. Am I'm I living and loving life as much as I should be, is there more I could be doing? I think the answer is yes, but when someone you know passes away it really does make you see things in a different light. This isn't groundbreaking stuff I'm writing here I know, but I felt like I needed to write this to express how much BIALL are going to miss Sarah and the valuable contributions she made and how her death has affected me on a personal level. It was an honour to attend Sarahs funeral as both a friend and BIALL President and I hope in some small way my attendance helped her family see how very highly respected Sarah was.

This is real law: The impact of technology on Law Librarians

I've been talking about technology within Law firms and specifically Law Libraries for longer then I care to remember. So this video from the American Association of Law Librarians recent meeting in Boston filled my heart with joy.

In it a number of Law Librarians talk about the impact technology has had an will continue to have on Law Librarians.

Some key quotes from the video:

  • "The Library has to be from everywhere" 
  • "You need to stay current as a Law Librarian" 
  • "We've moved from the book to the big computer to the iPad" 
  • "If you don't embrace the technology, you'll be left behind"
  •  "We need to be forward thinking and that the technology is ours to own" 

These are just some of the excellent quotes from this video, the message I took from this video is that we need to commit to future technology developments and be brave enough to use them, both for our own use and the benefit of our users.

I also love the quote about us being time travellers...I'd love to be able to do this for real!

The two P's and a T of social intranets

This was as close I could get to 3 P's on Flickr.
Catchy title eh? I was hoping I'd be able to write the 3P's of social intranets but sadly it wasn't meant to be. So what you may ask am I banging on about.

What I'm so eloquently referring to is this excellent post on the Intranet Connections blog which looks at the two P's and the T of social intranet strategy. From the introduction to the blog post:

"A social intranet is only one part technology, and two parts people and process. In fact, technology is only an enabler, and may only be worth 20% of the total value of an intranet"

I feel like I've banged on about this for years now, as good as technology is sticking a new piece of technology in front of someone and expect them to use it and love it straight away is borderline delusional. Yes there might be the odd person or two who immediately sees the benefit of using a particular technology. But when it comes to intranets and especially social intranets people will either love it or hate it. So making People a priority when developing a social intranet should be your top priority.

This will mean ensuring your social intranet is accessible and open to all users and crucially that it has active support from senior executives (management). From the blog post:

"...the most successful intranets have one common ingredient: active executive support and sponsorship. Without active executive support, a social intranet will fall short of its potential"

Get this part of the social intranet journey right and you're heading in the right direction. The next P discussed in the blogpost is Process. Process is about ensuring there are adequate polices, procedure and governance in place so that users know what they can and cant do. As someone once said to me, governance is about controlled freedom. That is you allow users a certain amount of freedom in the knowledge that there are controls in place to manage what they're doing. Process also means that everyone is aware of their role in managing the intranet and what their responsibilities are.

The final element of a social intranet strategy is about Technology. This is about identifying the technology that best matches what you're looking for. That might be that it solves a particular issue or it provides something that your current intranet doesn't. If you're building a social intranet then it's likely that the technology will facilitate blogging, the creation of wikis, activity streams and status updates.

Put these three elements in place and you're well on the road to a social intranet. I also feel that these elements could be used when deploying any intranet tool. The issues are just the same irrespective of whether the intranet contains social elements or not.

[Photo credit - 3P's from Flickr]

Intranet litter...

Litter globe actually lots of bottles
A small insight into my life here, I have two cats so reading Mark Morrell's latest blog post on Intranet litter made me chuckle. I've got plenty of litter at home, so I'm not sure I need any more on my intranet.

You might not chuckle as much as me, but you might be interested in reading Mark's post and thinking about whether your intranet is strewn with litter. So what does Mark mean by Intranet litter? What Mark is referring to is poorly presented information that confuses the user, specifically:

  • Links to documents instead of content on an intranet page
  • Poorly worded content that doesn’t make sense
  • Poorly constructed content that is hard to follow
  • Poorly presented content with the wrong balance of images, text, and video

Mark then goes on to outline some of the things you should consider implementing if your intranet does contain some litter. Rather then litter this post with those (they're actually very useful) I'll let you read Mark's post.

[Photo credit - Litter globe from Flickr]