Skip to main content

6 degrees of legal librarianing

You know that game, 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon, when you can use Kevin Bacon to link almost anyone in Hollywood in 6 steps or less?

Yes?

Well, it's got almost nothing to do with this post, but I like the idea of it :)

Anyhoo, what was it I was going to blog about...oh yes - the problem of what degree is most useful in a legal information environment. See, I knew there was some reason I'd been thinking of degrees!

Y'see, Robert Gordon University have done something rather spiffing: they've launched a distance learning Law LLB, woo-hoo! Studying is part-time as standard, and can be accelerated to full time from 2012.

Now...this is kinda tempting, because as a librarian in law firm, I'm similar to many librarians in this and other specialist areas: I don't have a degree in the subject I work in. Everything I've learned, I've either been taught by my previous or current boss (both infinitely patient in relation to daft questions), or picked up through doing the research for enquiries, and self-education in the job. I do have a degree (science), and a postgraduate diploma (information and library science), but they don't really prepare you for questions about what is a medium filum fluminis, or extinguishing a real burden, or any of the other specialist-area specific stuff.

So what you tend to find is that, if they can afford it, and can fit it into their lives, a lot of law librarians try and get some sort of legal qualification. This helps with two issues: gaining a better understanding of the foundations of what we're working with, and the processes and systems we work within. And it also helps to remind co-workers that, yes, actually, we are professionals too, just like them. You see, you could have qualifications coming out of your ears (and often, we do: Msc's, Bsc's, MAs, PGDips, Charterships), but in a law firm, to a lawyer, you're not a professional unless you have a law degree - they're the only degrees that count. And if you're not regarded as a "proper" professional, then it's far harder to get your advice and work to be taken seriously.

But there's no other option for law firm librarians than to come into law qualified in other subject areas: it's too specialised an area to have a degree or other professional qualification we can do. We come in, we learn and get on with it, and if we have time and money, we increase our qualification level by throwing in a law degree.

So obviously, I went about things the wrong way really, what you want to do is a law degree, THEN switch to being a librarian!

Now, if only I could afford to do that one at RGU...


Comments

Lizz Jennings said…
I can certainly recommend distance learning at RGU - it's a lot of work, but the staff are very supportive and seem well used to delivering content online.

Popular posts from this blog

Relaunching a library service

What do you do when you decide to do what is verging on library-based insanity, and basically scrap your current library service, and relaunch everything - physical layout, LMS, and classification system? In my case, spend a year, planning, developing, preparing….and then a frantic few weeks hauling stock!
The background to this apparent madness is this: when I took on this role I inherited a library using a layout that didn’t seem to make sense, a classification system I wasn’t familiar with, and an LMS that had been in place for 20 years but didn’t seem suited to our needs. As I was new to the library, a major part of the time I had available while settling in during my initial few months was dedicated to exploring how well these things were working, both for users, and library staff. I had the benefit of my colleague also being new to the library, only a few months after me, so together we looked at these issues with fresh eyes.We came to the following conclusions: The physical layou…

Learning from the experts

One regular occurrence, no matter what the age of your collection, is finding a book in need of some sort of repair. Whether it's become overheated and dried out, with random pages falling out, or if it's "shelled itself", with the whole cover block detaching from the pages, there's always a book that needs some attention. My problem is that I'm not skilled enough in this area to know what sort of repairs are possible, and where the line is between me being able to do some basic repairs, and when a book needs to be sent off to the book binders for some expert attention. 
Luckily, the binders we usually use, Downie Allison Downie, run a variety of classes on all elements of book making and repair. My colleague and I were able to go along to one of these classes recently, carrying a few sad examples each of books in need of repair. The way we spilt the carrying weight, I had the hardbacks with me, and my colleague had paperbacks in various states of dirtiness …

Impressive shelving technique

I have a new role model: the shelving technique demonstrated between 12 and 18 seconds by the librarian in this Lucozade video is something to aspire to! :D