Category Archives for "Librarians"

Sep 18

The Modern Library Defined

By Michael Feit | Librarians , Surveys

Cutting-edge…state-of-the-art…unconventional…using the most up-to-date techniques, technology and metrics…

While all these ideas are traits of the Modern Library, the first step to modernization really starts with you, the librarian. You need to be flexible in your approach and meet change head-on. Ask yourself, “How can I change my habits to actually facilitate change? How can I move out of my mindset of but we have always done it that way? What can I do differently to offer value to my organization and make them see me and my library in a new way?” While law firms have always depended on library and information professionals to support the research needs of their lawyers, the Modern Library is undergoing a paradigm shift. Success now depends on the library taking a more active role in the organization, to help support the day-to-day business of law.

While librarian skill sets remain the same, the methods used to apply those skills are vastly different from those of the past. The Modern Library is a nexus for interdepartmental support, including, but not an exhaustive list:

  • Embracing new roles in Conflicts Support for new business intake
  • Partnering with Marketing to provide competitive intelligence to support the RFP process
  • Partnering with IT to identify and beta-test software
  • Driving Knowledge Management

Be enthusiastic about new ideas. The Modern Library is a trendsetter, evaluating and embracing new techniques, ideas and technology to help support business processes.

It is no secret that the legal sector is in flux and change, which is the only constant in our organizations. There are changes we can forecast, and there are those we must be able to react to in order to function as a fiscally responsible unit in our organizations. The Modern Library, a business within a business, is not passive in its approach but rather utilizes metrics and analytics to forecast, predict and analyze data as changes occur.

Preparing and monitoring annual budgets and working with Finance on cost and recovery of client-related research are important fiscal initiatives. With the cost of resources continuing to rise, data-analysis tools such as Electronic Resource Management (ERM) are invaluable in analyzing usage, preparing for contract renewals and general collection development. No longer a nice-to-have tool, ERMs are essential as the Modern Library moves away from print towards virtualization.

Rather than be a target of downsizing or outsourcing, the Modern Library is innovative and forward-thinking. It strives to carve out new roles within the organization while showcasing the value of resources and staff.

Feit Consulting is interested in learning how modern you see your law library and what obstacles stand in the way of modernization. Click here to get started on our 15-minute survey.

Sep 06

Leveraging LinkedIn for Law Librarians

By Michael Feit | Best Practices , Librarians

Consider the value of using Linkedin, the largest professional network, as a tool in the modern library arsenal for both research and professional development.

Locate expert witnesses. Both Lexis and Westlaw have robust expert-witness information tools, but LinkedIn can supplement that research.  In the general search box, type “expert witness” and select people with the skills, which will pull up a listing of expert-witness profiles. You can then narrow your search by keyword, location, industries, etc., to help you find relevant profiles. In most cases, they will have a profile photograph. In addition, you can usually see their connections to better gauge if there might be a conflict of interest in hiring them.

Build your professional network. Add your colleagues, associates, and clients. Stay apprised of your connections’ updates, position changes, and work anniversaries. Need an introduction at a company or firm? Search for the company to see if you have any first-degree connections, and ask them for an introduction.

Perform due diligence on individuals. Many .aw librarians assist with performing background checks on potential clients and new employees. LinkedIn can be an important tool in that process. Depending on an individual’s content and volume of activity, you might gain powerful insights. Don’t forget to consider the candidate’s online recommendations, featured skills and endorsements.

Professional Development. LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways to stay abreast of the latest trends and news in your field and beyond. Follow companies, associations, and thought leaders/influencers to ensure your feed is full of relevant updates to keep you in the know.

Competitive Intelligence. Follow a company’s personnel announcements and highlighted new product features and introductions. Examine job postings for company growth. Don’t overlook LinkedIn for intel on private companies. By examining the number of employees listed and their titles and positions within their profiles, you can develop core insights into hard-to-find data.  

Determine who the employees were at a certain time in history. Have you been asked to find out who was working at a company or organization during a particular time period? Use the general search feature and filter by “past companies”, which will focus on all employees who worked at a particular entity. You can then cross-check the dates on individual profiles to determine who worked at the company during that time.

Join groups or create your own. Follow group conversations and chime in. This is a great way to showcase your expertise and contribute to the law librarianship field. If you don’t have LinkedIn Premium, join groups! This is a great workaround to be able to send free messages to people on LinkedIn within the same group that you aren’t connected to. There is a limit. You are only allowed to send 15 free 1:1 group messages to fellow group members each month. And if you create a group, group managers can send up to one group announcement per week to members who have chosen to receive such emails. Groups are also a great place to advertise job openings.

Client Development. Follow your firm’s top clients and any prospective clients to keep on top of any news they share via LinkedIn. Furthermore, receive alerts when they are mentioned in news articles. Monitoring client activity underscores LinkedIn’s worth as a cost-effective current awareness tool.

Identify contacts. Search for a company, and see a listing of employee profiles. You will be able to do a keyword search (title, first name, location, etc.) of all of its employees who have LinkedIn profiles.

Pull clean copies of an individual’s profile. Need to pull clean copies of profiles for a case, interview, or upcoming meeting? When you are in an individual’s profile, simply click on the three small dots to the right of the profile and click “save to PDF”. You can download this clean PDF, which contains a person’s educational background and work experience. Please note that this will not include the person’s profile picture.  

Create and share content. Share updates, photos, interesting articles or write your own. Use hashtags to optimize your user audience (e.g., #lawlibrarians). Hashtags are indexed by the social network and become searchable/discoverable by others.

Use LinkedIn Jobs. Need to post a library position? You can pay by setting a daily average budget, and you will only be charged for the number of job views you receive. Even if you aren’t in the job market, the job descriptions in job postings can give you ideas on how to innovate within your own organization. Have you had the same job title for the past 20 years? Maybe it’s time for a change. Job postings can give you great ideas.

Jul 25

Don’t Jump Back Into Your Everyday Routine: Transform Knowledge Into Power

By Michael Feit | Associations , Events , Librarians

At the core, librarians utilize knowledge and resources to answer questions and solve problems. We possess a multitude of skills, and have much value to offer our organizations, beyond performing legal research. The American Association of Law Libraries’ (AALL) conference this month reminded us of our abilities, and more so the importance of transitioning from guardian of books to ‘linchpin librarians’. In short, we as librarians need to showcase the true value we possess and can offer our organizations. The question now is, “How will you transform the knowledge and empowerment gained at AALL into action steps at your firm or organization?”

Checklist for transitioning knowledge into action:
– Brainstorm what new step(s) you can take to build high-level collaboration and interdepartmental support at your firm or organization.
– Determine the best avenues to grow your visibility within your organization.
– Ask yourself, “How can I change my habits? What can I do differently that offers value to my organization?”
– Plan a lunch or phone call with colleagues inside and outside your organization to brainstorm what cutting-edge solutions you can bring to your organization or firm.
– Reach out to your new networking contacts. Choose one each week with whom to connect.
– Develop a Conference Recap to show management the value of attending; highlight program sessions and vendor products that support current and potential organization/firm initiatives.
– Include conference benefits in the library’s annual report to Management.
– Take Feit Consulting’s Library Modernization Survey.

Jul 19

Innovative Forward Thinking Indispensable to Your Organization: You Just May Be A Linchpin Librarian

By Michael Feit | Associations , Events , Librarians

How exactly are you viewed in your organization? Are you seen as the gatekeeper of knowledge or guardian of books? The image of the stereotypical librarian is ingrained in our society. In movies and the media, the librarian is often portrayed as the figure that makes patrons tremble in fear with their disciplinarian approach of keeping people quiet while maintaining order in their domain. Those perceptions die hard. On the final day of the American Association of Law Libraries’ (AALL) conference, two programs took a serious look at this issue and provided insight on what must be done to dispel the stereotypes if we are to thrive in our organizations and as a profession.

At an organizational level, “The Linchpin Librarian: Becoming an Indispensable and Integrated Resource in Your Organization” summed it up nicely: See a need, fill a need. Librarians have relevant skill sets to help their organizations. We are organizers and planners. We know how to analyze data and recognize relevant patterns. We are front-facing, customer-service-oriented with good communication skills. So instead of guardians of books, let’s become information brokers. Whether embedded in a practice group to support an attorney team or partnering with client development to support business development and increase revenue streams, we need to assume the linchpin mindset. High-level collaboration and interdepartmental support will break down librarian stereotypes as we work on building relationships within our organizations. Step outside your comfort zone. Give change a try, and while it may seem uncomfortable at first, you can flourish as an indispensable resource within your organization.

Taking this mantra even further, one of the initiatives of the Private Law Librarian & Information Professional (PLLIP) Special Interest Section was to establish the Elevation Task Force as a means to further the profession. During the program entitled: “Elevate! Lifting an Innovative Profession into the Light”, the panel discussed their plans to identify forward-thinking, innovative standards that will give the stakeholders in our organizations a better understanding of our value and capabilities. This group wants to focus on how the law librarian is portrayed in the media and create a tool kit to manage the law librarian professional image. They are working to dispel negative and outdated perceptions that pigeon-hole us as mere researchers, diminishing our vast array of talents and making us targets of outsourcing.

We need to take a hard look at our future, be proactive in thought and action, and demonstrate to the C-Suite that we are willing and capable of sharing a seat at the table. Embracing change will greatly diminish our chances of being left behind.

Follow Monice’s AALL insights on Feit Consulting’s LinkedIn page here.

Jul 18

Helping Our Librarian Clients To Forgo The Status Quo

By Michael Feit | Associations , Events , Librarians

The theme of this year’s 110th AALL Annual Meeting and Conference Forgo the Status Quo strikes a chord with what we are hearing from clients in the legal market. We are seeing a paradigm shift as law librarians look for ways to reinvent themselves and the value they bring to their organizations. The future for information professionals is full of possibilities and many of those lie in the area of knowledge management. Who better than librarians to manage institutional knowledge, making sure the right information gets to the right people at the right time?

This was the message of the session entitled “Knowledge Management for the 21st Century Information Professional”. If you think about it, isn’t this what librarians have always done through the creation of online catalogs, legal research and curated taxonomy? Librarians might benefit by broadening their view and looking at the big picture to identify KM-related roles they may take on in their organization. Law librarians know what attorneys need and understand attorney workflow. We are often seen as trusted advisers when it comes to providing and organizing their information needs. We already have a user base, let’s consider re-branding ourselves as thought leaders in Knowledge Management and expand the level of support we provide through KM solutions.

Moving beyond the status quo was further highlighted in the session titled “The Law Firm Librarian’s Role in New Business Intake”. Good loss prevention and risk management begins at intake, when client conflicts are identified during the development of the scope in the engagement letter. Who better than the librarian to perform due diligence on potential clients? With access to necessary databases to perform the research, coupled with the organizational skills to establish systems and checklists to further the Conflicts process, we are able to infuse valuable information into a critical process and demonstrate the value of the library. This is just one way to showcase our research and organizational skills to the rainmakers of the firm, who are responsible for bringing in business but may not currently be utilizing their library for traditional research services.

If you have the bandwidth in your library to take on this function, it can prove to be a quick win for showcasing your value. The only expense is staff time and a bit of training, since the resources required to support this function are already in place in the library. Knowing what business is coming into the firm will provide the library with intelligence to make sure that subject experts and resources are in place to support traditional research requests for these new clients.

Follow Monice’s AALL insights on Feit Consulting’s LinkedIn page here.

Jul 17

PLLIP Summit 2017: Nexus of Knowledge and Legal Tech

By Michael Feit | Associations , Events , Librarians

The PLLIP Summit pre-conference–always timely and ever-interesting! This year’s day-long meeting was no exception. If there was one takeaway, it would be that change is the only constant in life, and with that change comes new and exciting possibilities for our profession. What we do with those possibilities is up to us. We need to build on our established alliances and push outside of our comfort zones as we navigate the shifting landscape of organizational reporting, new technologies and artificial intelligence. Librarians must remain flexible and rethink how we apply library skills to create knowledge management solutions–solutions which help further the goals of our organizations and aid our users as they face an increasingly competitive legal landscape.

As collaborators and communicators, librarians need to devise new ways to insert themselves into the daily activities of the firm outside of legal research. Utilize your library skills differently to spread your message, and raise library visibility by supporting daily firm activities like client intake, providing competitive intelligence support during the RFP process, portal and dashboard creation, producing curated client newsletters and becoming seen as the go-to place for data analytics. Assist IT as beta-testers and software implementers. When presented with opportunities to change, meet the challenge, and grow as a person and as a professional. Evolution means moving forward, so don’t be left behind.

Follow Monice’s latest takes on the AALL Conference on Feit Consulting’s LinkedIn page.