UKSG Conference 2013

Last week I attended the UKSG Conference in Bournemouth. It was my first time at a conference, and I very much enjoyed the experience, though it was a little overwhelming at first – the days were busy, and there were over 900 people milling about – a mixture of librarians and publishers.


Balloon over the BIC

The presentations and slides are up on YouTube and Slideshare, so if you are interested, take a look.

Despite slightly shaky wifi access, there were a lot of tweets – and these have been archived at

Blog posts on the individual talks and breakouts are being put up on the UKSG blog.

The talks were all very relevant – the first plenary session was on Open Access, which is something I needed to learn more about – so great (though to be honest some of it went a little over my head, as a relative newbie to the topic). The breakout sessions were many and varied – and I’d had a hard time picking them when I booked. I attended ones generally which would give me more information outside of my immediate role (as I sometimes have no idea what my colleagues are up to).

It was pretty full on – there was very little down-time to reflect on things, we were kept busy with talks and breakouts and the exhibition, and extra talks, and the quiz and dinner, and I didn’t get much sleep. I admit to skipping my final breakout session in favour of going for a walk along the beach – I had reached saturation point by then – there was a lot of information to take in. But I returned for the final plenary talks feeling refreshed, and was then further woken up by Jason Scott’s talk.

Highlights for me were:

Things I have taken away from the conference?

  • Wouldn’t it be great if we could provide all students with an iPad, with their textbooks available to download and borrow?
  • We should be making sure we support the students’ workflows
  • Publishers and Librarians need to see past the stereotype views we have of each other, and communicate more
  • Archiving things is very important (and using DDT soaked wallpaper is bad)

Library Day in the Life

I participated in Round 6 of the Library Day in the Life project a couple of weeks ago using Twitter, and, though it is a little late, thought I would finally finish and publish the blog post.


First thing when I get in in the morning, is to check the display screen in the cafe area is working – not a hard task as it is on the way to my office. If it isn’t I have to reboot the machine, but today it was on. Once I was all logged in, I checked my emails, then checked the new Library Facebook page for the number of followers, and any responses, and then checked the Library News blog for comments.

Once all the checking was out of the way, I just had time to finish writing a position paper on my QR codes project before my fortnightly meeting with my boss. During the meeting we went through the projects I have on the go, and then discussed a meeting planned for next week, with members of staff from all the different Library departments, where we will decide on a policy for documenting my projects, requesting new projects, and prioritising projects (now that my post has been made permanent).

Following the meeting I had a request from one of the Academic Liaison Librarians for some website statistics that she needed for an academic Board of Studies meeting – I got these from Google Analytics and sent them to her.

In the afternoon I trained one of my colleagues on using WordPress so he could add posts to the Library news blog. I had a phone call from someone on the Reception Desk asking for help with their computer – I popped down, determined the problem was the monitor display being out of alignment, and fixed it.

Back at my desk, I emailed the office to ask them to put a notice about the Library’s new Facebook page in this week’s staff Bulletin, updated my to do list, and then got on with some website changes – adding a new Academic Liaison Librarian to the website, and adding some Information Skills sessions to the booking form.

Then it was time to go home.


Today I have an Information Desk session from 9-11, so there’s not much time to do more than my daily display screen, Facebook and blog checks before I head down to the Information Desk. I usually do two Information Desk shifts a week. Today’s shift was very quiet – had three people with queries, and that was it. I don’t generally mind when it is quiet, as I can get on with other work, though sometimes it feels like a waste of time my being there.

After my shift, I had a visit from one of my colleagues to arrange for the SCONUL trainee to spend some time with me next week, which I agreed to. I have a project which  I want her to help me with, and next week is perfect timing for me. I then spent some time tidying my desk, which had got into a bit of a mess, and I carted quite a bit of paper off to the recycling bin.

I attempted to make some web changes, but Rhythmyx, our Content Management System, is down, so I give up, and instead work on the You Say, We Say poster for the Publicity & Marketing Group I am a part of – basically telling students what we did about their feedback forms.

Just after lunch I showed one of my colleagues, who was just back from maternity leave, the changes to the website which was migrated while she was off, and had a general chat and a catch up with her.

Then I spent a bit of time thinking about a project to put staff training forms on the web, then read through the strategic paper for Virtual Support projects which my boss had put together, ready for a meeting next week.


Rhythmyx was down again this morning, so I still couldn’t make any changes to the web. I did my usual morning Facebook and blog comment checks, and finished reading through the strategic paper from the day before, sending my comments to my boss.

In lieu of editing the website, I made do with updating the instructions for how to edit the website, and put them up on the staff website. I then attempted to arrange a desk session swap, as one of the sessions I was down for the following week clashed with my big Virtual Support projects strategy meeting.

After lunch I looked up the possibility of getting some funding for a project on using QR codes in the Library – one of the other University departments, CEAD (Centre for Educational and Academic Development) gives Teaching with New Technologies awards of £500, which would be very handy for buying equipment (I really can’t afford my own smartphone) and marketing materials.

Finally Rhythmyx was back up, so I made a few web changes, and uploaded an updated version of the Library Launchpad tutorial (an introduction to the Library).


Usual morning check for comments on Facebook and the blog. Facebook followers are slowly increasing, but no comments as of yet.

I spent much of the morning creating a flowchart of the process for a Virtual Support project using LovelyCharts, which was quite fun. Then I had another shift on the desk, which was quite quiet.

In the afternoon I gave some thought to what work I would ask the SCONUL trainee to do while she is with me next week –  planning to cover briefly what it is that I do in my role, and get her to do some website changes, and mostly populating the new Library staff intranet.


Once again, started the day with checking the blog and Facebook for comments and users. Now have over 30 users on Facebook, which means I can start collecting statistics – feel rather over-pleased about this.

I printed a few copies of the updated Rhythmyx instructions ready for a training session I will be running next week, with two new members of staff, and someone else who has managed to miss all my previous sessions.

Spent an hour or so before lunch weeding emails, the concept of Inbox Zero is one I will never grasp – think I have about a thousand emails in my inbox.

After lunch I spent some more time sorting and tidying my desk, arranging folders, and trying to appear all neat and tidy (even though I’m generally not). I also posted my Interesting Things blog post, which I’d been adding items to throughout the week.

Fridays are great, as I get to leave half an hour early, so the week always ends well.

New job

Well, I have done it. I have renounced the exciting, rough and tumble, rock’n’roll, thrill-a-minute life of a law librarian, and abandoned the lights of London. My new job is in a university library, doing various web-related things, including looking into using Web 2.0! All very exciting. And hopefully different to my previous job where the conversation tended to go like:

Me: I want to do this really cool thing that would make all our lives much easier.
IT: No.

I am still getting settled in really, getting to know who is who, who does what, what is online already, that kind of thing. It is a very different environment to a commercial law library (my only previous work experience), so there will be a bit of adjusting to do. For example, I get tea breaks. Actual breaks where I can leave my desk and go to a staff room and sit/chat/read/whatever. (Luckily the actual tea part is optional). Very strange – I keep forgetting to take them. Also there are lots of students around (a seemingly inexhaustible supply), and no lawyers (though there are law students, so if I feel nostalgic I can still log on to Lexis or Westlaw). I haven’t been on the enquiry desk yet, but I suspect the types of query are vastly different. The library itself is much larger than any I have worked in before (spread across 5 floors), and there are a lot more library staff around.
Anyway, I will hopefully be able to post more often (as I will theoretically have more time/come across more relevant things) in the future.

BEUG Meeting

Last week I attended the Butterworths Electronic User Group meeting – my first. There were more people there than I had expected, and I was quite glad to run into some people I knew – it was quite daunting walking into the large hall. The venue was nicely central, and a pretty room, though the acoustics weren’t fantastic, and those of us near the back had problems hearing some things. We got some goodies (a pen, a pad of paper, and some chocolate), which was nice (I am easily pleased by free chocolate), and there were drinks and canapes afterwards (though hardly anyone stuck around for them).

The main topic was the Spring Release of the new LNB interface – they spoke about why they were changing it, and showed some examples. It seems ok, nothing spectacularly different, and mainly cosmetic changes. It is due to launch on 26th April, so we shall see.
They also mentioned other LNB developments – making a lot of the fact ICLR cases are now available in .pdf format (irrelevant to many of us who access these via Justis who have had .pdf versions available for ages).

There was a brief talk about the FT and Nexis, discussing the Bridging Agreement and its extended deadline. There were various queries on this, including whether they would make it clear the FT is not included in search results (the response to which seemed to be ‘good idea, but no’), and whether the FT content would be separate or integrated (answer – fully integrated for those who subscribe).

Next they went on to Lexis Professional and LNB – much was made of the decision of where to access the Professional content being an individual choice, and that there are no plans to switch it off this year. Sounds like it might be good if it is merged into LNB – making the content available to everyone, and all in one place – lots of discussions of different menus.

They highlighted two main plans for the future – integrating Lexis content with firm content eg via an intranet/Sharepoint and using their expertise to add value to firm’s content – KM and searching basically.

Then there was a ‘Round Table discussion’ – which was ok – though it obviously depended on who you were sitting with as to what was discussed (and whether you got a chance to say anything).

There were two interesting queries. The first – ‘with the general levels of dissatisfaction with customer service why would we want to get anything more from Lexis than we already have to?’ They seemed a bit thrown by the question, and I don’t think they actually apologised for anything, though they claim it will be better in the future. We’ll have to wait and see on this one too (I once rang customer support for help with a product, and ended up having to give them my log-in details as the person I was speaking to didn’t have access, then explain what the service was and how to use it – kind of the wrong way round!).
The other interesting query was on whether they would consider setting up wikis and/or blogs – the answer was positive – these may be implemented in future for communication and feedback on particular topics (e.g. LNB Spring Release – bit late now of course).

I am glad that I went to this, and would be happy to go to other meetings in the future (and not just because of the gorgeous Hotel Chocolat chocolate buttons) – it is a good chance to get an idea what issues other people have with Lexis Nexis (and who doesn’t have issues with Lexis Nexis), find out what Lexis are planning, and meet other people (yes, the dreaded networking).

For more info about the meeting see Fiona Durrant’s report on the BIALL blog.

Being off sick

I was off sick for a few days last week. I really hate being off sick. Not a fun time. To start with you feel lousy. Secondly you have to do the whole ‘calling-in’ thing, where you have to explain and hope that you don’t sound like you’re putting it on.. And then there is the vague guilt – even though you really are ill. Then, depending on how sick you are, there’s the boredom factor – a day can seem quite long when you can’t really go anywhere or do anything – sitting around in front of the tv or with a book, assuming you get up and out of bed in the first place (which you have to do anyway in order to call in sick). Then there’s the worry about the work that is piling up while you are away, the additional guilt of knowing your colleagues are having to cover for you, and all in all it just really sucks. Then there’s the first day back from being off – answering all the questions of how are you, are you better, what was wrong etc, suffering because you’ve probably gone back before you’re completely over it (due to the guilt thing, or maybe worrying about how many sick days you have left), feeling swamped by the large number of emails you received, and wishing you were back home in bed.
If only there were some way to not get ill. Of course, it would help if other people didn’t come in even when they were sick – passing their lovely germs around. Or if we could work from home when we felt vaguely ill – you know, ill enough you don’t want to drag yourself out of bed at half past six in the dark, and make the long journey into work, but not really ill enough to justify having a day off.
Also – is it ok to blog if you’re off sick? Obviously if you’re well enough to use the phone to call in sick, you’re probably well enough to use a computer and write a post (though coherency may sometimes be a problem), but would a boss see it that way?

Some thoughts on marketing

I’ve been thinking about marketing for law libraries recently – partly because of a work project, and partly due to reading this post from Enquiring Minds Want to Know. Here are the results of my musings – I’d be interested to hear about how other law firms go about promoting their services (hint hint!).

· Raise awareness of the library as a department
· Improve the company perception of the library and its staff
· Increase awareness of services etc

The job of an information professional is to provide people with information. You can think of marketing as an extension of this – you are providing people with information about you, and about your service. How can they get the best use out of their library, if they don’t know what they can use the library for? What is the point in forking out cash to subscribe to all those databases if no-one ever uses them because they don’t know they’re there?

Assert Yourself
Many librarians assume that people will simply notice the wonderful service that we provide without having to do anything as vulgar as actually blowing our own trumpets. But the fact is that while people tend to notice (and complain about) bad service, they tend to take good service for granted. So it is worth getting up on your soapbox and shouting to the world (or at least the company) how good you are.

Tortoise vs Hare
Building a reputation as a vital, reliable and respected department will take time, and continuing effort. You can’t just do all your marketing in one go, then rest on your laurels. Investing time to create a long-term plan is well worth it in the end – things change all the time, and marketing materials should be up to date, and attract attention by changing.

Just Say No.
As an information department, you will often be expected to be the one-stop-shop for all the company’s information needs. However in many law firms this is not the case. Certain information tasks may be done by others – PSLs, for example, or a Company Search department. In these cases it is necessary to be clear on what the library doesn’t do, and direct people, in as helpful a manner as possible, to the correct department. Just saying you’ll do it, then forwarding the request isn’t ideal – as that person will continue to come to you with similar requests.

There are 4 Ps of marketing: Place, Product, Price, and Promotion, and also sometimes a 5th – People.

‘Place’ is not usually something you can do much about, unless you are lucky enough to be moving offices, setting up a library from scratch, but making sure that people know where you are is important – being visible.
So have signs, a presence on the front page of the intranet, so it is easy to find. Have library maps, so you are easy to find. Index the library intranet pages, and make them searchable, so everything is easy to find.
Also, where possible, take yourself where the users are – so take enquiries by email, phone or even (gasp) IM, offer training at their desktops, deliver books to them etc.

‘Product’ is books, research, e-resources, journals, space, training etc etc – it is the service you provide. Which is obviously great!

‘Price’ – obviously depends on the policy within the firm, as to whether electronic resources are charged to clients, or to matter numbers, etc, and also whether the library staff charges for their time (which can raise the professional status of the library staff in the lawyers’ eyes). A lot of what librarians do saves lawyers’ time (and time is money) – current awareness delivered to their desktops, research etc.

‘Promotion’ is advertising – done via the intranet, e-mails, and hard copy mailings, anything that raises publicity for the library.
– Newsletters – daily/weekly/monthly, general/subject-specific, electronic/hardcopy. Newsletters are both product (service), and promotion.
– Intranet advertising – pop-ups, banners etc on the firm’s intranet homepage, great content on the library’s intranet pages (blogs, research guides, etc)
– Open/drop-in days, library tours, (offer food – it is a great way to get people in)
– Create a virtual tour of the library on the intranet, with video, pictures and audio.
– Inductions – when new staff join, give them a library induction – a talk, a tour, some training. Follow up later with emails – ‘thank you for attending, did you know we can…’
– Library brochures, resource guides etc, in hardcopy. Old fashioned, maybe, but effective, damned effective. You can have contact details, maps, and a basic guide to services, in something they can have on their desks, noticeboards, in their hands. Give them out at training sessions, inductions etc, it’s always good for people to have something physical to take away with them. How about bookmarks, which can be promotional and useful?
– An internal email signature, that can be appended to all library staff emails, promoting a particular service, training session, or the library generally.

‘People’ refers to all of the people who come into contact with the lawyers – eg the enquiry desk staff. Obviously it is important to ‘give good customer service’ as you are representing the whole library. So train staff where necessary, have best practice guides, ensure staff are confident dealing with lawyers. Put photos of the library staff on the intranet, with descriptions of who does what – show the human face of the library and help filter queries to the right people. Be prompt when answering enquiries, and be polite (I know you want to tell people where to go when they come down with an urgent enquiry at 17:28, but be nice).

I’ve not (obviously) tried all of these things. The libraries I have worked in have all had library brochures of some kind (some more professional than others, but I’m naming no names), and some form of induction or library tour (again this varied greatly between the different firms, from a 10 minute tour, to a 45 minute induction presentation and tour, with handouts), but none of them used bookmarks, blogs, or the temptation of food.