Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2011

Westlaw trumps law books in US prisons

If you're an American prisoner unhappy with your sentence, you might want to start brushing up on your IT skills. This story of an inmate who objected that giving limited Westlaw access wasn't the same as providing a legal library turned up in my RSS feeds via Library Stuff.

I can understand his problems with Westlaw, although it's actually one of the less painful legal databases to use (Lexis - why? WHY?!?!). As the story says though, he's not likely to win his case, so the books will be going, and occasional Westlaw access will be staying. Which ain't fun if you're not confident on a computer, and have restricted access.

Do we have a similar sort of requirement for prisoners to have access to law libraries and legal materials? Do UK prisoners have any sort of ability to do legal research on their own behalf?

I am a mirror, so I'd watch where you're pointing that laser gun, kiddo

Ok, I'm caught up (ish)! I shall hold back on the firing of glitter guns, and the triumphal music, while I sit quietly, and Think About What I've Done for Thing 19. This is the type of Thinking About What I've Done that's good, unlike when as a child I would be sent up to my room, to Think About What I've Done. That was bad. And usually involved climbing a wall/tree/building I wasn't supposed to.

Anyway, what have I done with the Things I've looked at? And what have I used that's new? Well, to be totally honest...I've done everything, and use nothing new, mainly becuase I'm either already using the tools anyway, or they're not relevant to my current role.
I blog, and have done for years; I subscribe to the RSS feeds of blog that interest me; I manage my online presence reasonably actively; I use RSS for current awareness daily;  I'm active in my professional groups; I organise myself the way that works best for me; I'm qualified, Cha…

Thing 18 - Jings, crivvens, and help ma boab!

I wonder if the makers of Jing are secretly Scottish...or perhaps Oor Wullie fans? Because Jing's name is awwfy like wan o' Wullie's favourite wurds...

Anyhoo - Thing 18, one which looks at a tool for recording your actions on your computer, in order to let others see exactly what you're doing on your computer, rather than have to explain things in a convoluted way. A screencast! Lovely! This is actually something my boss and I have been discussing on and off for a while - the ability to have a recorded version of how to find/use the things that new staff are most going to want to use on their computers, that we have responsibility for. To have that sort of information available to them at any point (after they've recovered from the induction process information bombardment from every department) would be quite handy. The sound recording aspect would be redundant, as we have open plan offices, and sound disabled on the computers, so an ability to tag things with a …

Prezi and Slideshare - the presentation sorta Things

So, I'm so late that I can incorporate the delayed Thing 17 on Prezi and Slideshare into the correct numerical order of Things. Which makes me happy, in a perhaps-abnormal way. I knew there was another reason I hadn't blogged CPD23 topics for a while...honest.

Unfortunately, this is going to be another Thing that I'm going to skip merrily over (although not without thoguht, or explaining why). These tools are aimed at those giving presentations or teaching substantial groups, which is not something we really do. We don't have to give presentations using Powerpoint or similar to senior internal management, and our inductions for new library users are either in small groups (new trainee intakes) or one-on-one sessions (new employees at any other time). The training we give each group or person is hands-on, and tailored to their experience level, and specialist interest area - there is no "standard" training given, and the resources we refer to for each person a…

Thing 16 - Advocacy (apparently, not advocaat, nor for drinking)

You may well have seen my grumpy-day post earlier on advocacy and activism, so Thing 16 is going to be a meandering thing around some of those points.

I still don't feel comfortable with telling people how fabulous libraries are, just because I'm a librarian. I have no more expertise on whether a local public library is useful for anyone than I do about the local Council gym - I don't use either one, so I'm not going to tell anyone that they should be using either one of them, as I am not informed or knowledgeable. Nor do I have any motivation to use either service myself - they just do not have anything to offer me.

I don't keep this blog in order to show my employers what work I'm doing. In fact, keeping a blog when working in a special library can be quite difficult, and I very rarely refer to specifics of the the work I do on the blog, unless it's to illustrate a wider principle, I am very careful not to refer to anyone or anything that goes on in my wo…

Thing 15 - oh lordy, I'm behind

Oh, Thing 14 was the last thing I did, back in August! Life and busyness in work got in the way, but I'm aiming for a full-on assault of lots of Things now, while I have a moment!

Ok, so this was about attending, presenting at, and organising events. Now - two of those activities I'm perfectly happy with, and one puts the fear of God into me.

Attending events
I love doing this: I get to meet lots of interesting people, learn new things, and generally go away from them having gained lots of useful tips or contacts. The only problems for me attending events are:

Time out of work to attend events is time that I'm not available to deal with enquiries, or do my day-to-day tasks, so it's got to be something relevant enough to my duties that being away from them will be recompensed by better skills to do those duties afterwards.

Often the most relevant courses and seminars for me are nowhere near me, usually in London. Attending a course in London would involve me …

Advocate? Activate? Who feels they can decide what I should do to be a professional?

On Twitter over the last few days I've seen debates over whether people should be actively promoting the library profession. And I have tried to stay out of it, because apparently, unless I'm willing to sing and dance and say how much I just loooooove libraries and the library profession, I'm not allowed to define myself as a librarian, and that pissed me off, which would lead to a more incoherent than normal blog post.

But the whole thing is ridiculous. I'm a librarian, but I don't love "libraries" as a concept. And I'm not an activist, I don't "do" promoting activities for any service other than my own. Yet I remain a librarian, regardless of whether I think libraries are the best thing since sliced bread or not. I did the qualification at University, and I continue to prove my professionalism through my work and the Chartership and Revalidation process: nowhere did I sign a form saying "to be a librarian, you have to do everythin…

The legacy of the snail

Last night, through nefarious means*, I was invited to the launch of a series of short films on the Session Cases, by the Scottish Council of Law Reporting. The Session Cases are the most authoritative series of law reports in Scotland, and they are created and published by SCLR.

The videos are 5-6 minute segments, available on a dedicated YouTube channel, which outline the history and effects of the Session Cases on Scots law, how the Session Cases developed, how they are put together and by who, and how they are used in court. The video clips themselves are well produced, high quality films, with interviews and commentary from everyone who uses the Session Cases, from the judges and Advocates who write, review, edit and use them in court, to the Advocates Library staff who maintain the collections of Session Cases for the Advocates, and the Session Papers that support them.

Definitely a useful resource for law students, law tutors, those who have to source Session Cases for users, …

It's not about the speed, it's about the skill

Recently, I was regaling my partner with exciting tales of what thrilling things I'd got up to at work that day, while he listened with eager attention. Well, actually, what he was doing was trying to go to sleep, and I was babbling at him about research problems, but... I was explaining that I was frustrated that I was busy when a research enquiry that had come in, and that when I actually got a chance to do it, I found the answer within a few minutes. "I could have had that result back to the enquirer in minutes, rather than hours, and looked really efficient, since it was so straightforward to find." I was pouting. "Yes, but your enquirer has no idea of the level of skill it took you to find that answer. They asked you because they didn't know how to find it, and you are the expert. Just because you could find it easily doesn't mean it would be as easy for anyone else. And answering too quickly could make it appear that it was an simpler task than it was.…