Advocacy for public libraries is not something I have been involved with. Firstly because the threats to public libraries aren’t quite so terrible in Scotland as they are elsewhere in the UK and secondly because I work in the corporate sector.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about public libraries, I believe that they still have an important role to play in society. However I admit to being one of the many people who has drifted away from using the library regularly. As a child I visited weekly and pretty much read my way through the entire junior library! As a student I registered at the local library in wherever I was living at the time and carried on using the library regularly. Until I moved house a year ago I continued to visit the library every couple of months, my use being solely to borrow novels. However since I bought a Kindle I haven’t been back in the public library, it’s so much easier just to download what I want to read. Therefore how do I advocate for a service I no longer use either personally or professionally?
I am under no illusions that corporate libraries are also under threat for several reasons. Of course there is the recession, with less money to spend the library is often an easy target for spending cuts. Then in law firm libraries there are threats from outsourcing of support services, increased use of online services and law firm mergers. The energy and spare time that I have for advocacy has to be spent on working to ensure a future for the library I work in.
Since the start of the recession in 2008 it’s been much harder to get funding from the training budget to attend conferences or training as what budget there is must be spent on business essential training which often means expensive legal training for the lawyers, this means there’s not much left for the rest of us to share.
But it’s still possible to get to events by being creative. I applied for a bursary from the Scottish Law Librarians Group to pay the conference fee for a Career Development Group conference and work were happy to pay the travel costs so I was able to attend. Many professional organisations offer bursaries so look around and don’t be afraid to apply, you might just be successful.
An ex-colleague managed to get free attendance at a couple of conferences by running a workshop session at the conference. If you’re confident enough to do this it’s a great way of getting to conferences and has the added benefit of raising your profile within the profession.
Organising conferences and events can seem really daunting so start small! I recently organised a visit to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery library with dinner afterwards for the Scottish Law Librarians Group, easy to organise and enjoyed by the attendees! Obviously organising a full scale conference is an awful lot more hard work than just a library visit, but joining up with a professional group and helping them with their events programme is a good way to start. I’m not sure what events we’re planning next at the SLLG but I am sure our convenor will make sure I have plenty of tasks to do to help make it a success!
And I’ve also been lucky enough to be invited to attend two conferences organised by publishers we have accounts with for no cost. I was unable to attend the PLC conference earlier this year but a colleague was able to attend so we didn’t lose the free place. However I am able to attend the LexisNexis KM conference at the end of this month and by combining attendance with a long overdue day working in our London office it makes it cost effective for my employers to pay the necessary travel and hotel costs. The cost to me of the conference? Accompanying my account manager to the drinks afterwards and hearing about his holidays!
I work in a corporate law firm and as lawyers have their own way of citing cases and other references I have no need to use any of these tools in a work context. I’m not studying at the moment, nor do I have any intention to study again soon. Therefore I feel that these are tools I can quite safely ignore for the time being.
I’ve had a long break from CPD23 for various reasons including annual leave and too much sunshine to want to be indoors blogging! Time to start catching up with an update on thing 13 which I half heartedly looked at in 2011 (see previous post).
I use some bits of Google, I have a Gmail account and two Google Reader accounts but I’ve still not found a use for the documents function of Google. At work we have a document management system which enables me to share documents with colleagues, use of this is compulsory so I have no use for Google Docs there.
However I’ve recently become secretary of the Scottish Law Librarians Group (SLLG) and I’m wondering if perhaps I should investigate using Google Docs for SLLG documents. At the moment any documents I create are saved into my personal folders on work’s DMS, this means to work on them at home I need to log in to work remotely through Citrix which I hate doing as I inevitably start reading work emails …. The other obvious benefit of Google Docs is ease of sharing with the others on the SLLG committee and giving access to documents to whoever follows on from me as secretary. I have minutes to write later today so will investigate further then.
As I can’t access DropBox at work and neither can many of my fellow SLLG committee members I won’t be able to use it for committee work. I’m content to know the technology exists and I can use it if my circumstances change.
The SLLG committee has been using the basic version of PBWorks wiki for some time. We use it to store documents and to enable us to all post our opinions on certain topics in one place when we can’t meet in person. It’s an easy to use platform which works very successfully for us.
This is about the point that CPD23 started to go wrong for me last year due to lack of broadband at home for 4 months!
Oh dear another Thing that I am having trouble completing due to moving house!
Google Docs – I have played around with this a little. However I don’t need to use it at work as the document management system takes care of sharing documents internally. Personally I am not involved in any committees etc that require me to share documents. Although as I don’t have either Word or Excel on my laptop I wonder if Google Docs is something I might use instead just for me rather than sharing. I intend to have a more serious trial once I get home broadband again and retrieve my laptop from storage!
DropBox – I can’t even try this one out as it’s banned at work for security reasons!
Wikis – I have used other people’s wikis, for example Dumpling in a Hanky’s chartership wiki, however I have never needed to create my own wiki so I have never bothered. Another thing on my to list as I can see uses for a wiki at work, perhaps for sharing good practice in the team.
One day I will actually do the things on my to do list that I have added because of CPD23 ….