Okay… stop laughing at the title.  There is a perception of law librarians as being too quite and sitting behind a reference desk waiting on someone to come us and ask a question that they can answer.  But, if you go to an SLA or AALL meeting, you’ll see a different side of law librarianship.  Librarians discussing the hot topics of the day ranging from vendor relationships to workplace rights and even social issues.  I’ve enjoyed sitting at round table discussions where law librarians have heated conversations about how they need to address the issues of staffing reductions, budget cuts, all while having to handle increased demands for the services they provide to their firms, courts, faculty or public users.  However, one firm director I know mentioned to me that law librarians tend to be preaching to the choir, but not doing much preaching to anyone else.  Her suggestion was that those in management positions in law libraries need to expand their professional circles and join at least one other, non-librarian, association in order to have an audience that they need to be preaching to.

One of the organizations that she suggested was the Association of Legal Administrators, but there are numerous organizations out there that would help expand your professional circles.  One determining factor may be to look at the professional organizations that your administrative leadership belongs to.  I happen to like ILTA because I know it is an organization that many of my fellow managers and directors belong to.  Attending these meetings, even if it is just on the local level, exposes me to other leaders in my organization, as well as peers in other firms that I would never see at a law library meeting.  There are probably dozens of other non-librarian associations that are out there that would help you expand your professional circle (feel free to add some suggestions in the comments if you have any favorites to share.)  One suggestion is to ask around at your organization to see if your organization has a blanket membership to professional organization (like mine does for ILTA… remember I’m cheap, so a free membership is something I’ll take advantage of every time!!)

These associations are in addition to your current librarian associations.  For those of you that don’t belong to any associations, or don’t contribute to the conversation of your current association… shame on you.  Remember, if you’re not involved in the conversation of the direction your profession is heading, then you can’t complain when others make those decisions for you.

  • CR

    Great post Greg and I absolutely agree. I've found ILTA to be invaluable especially for conflicts and docket tasks for which my department is responsible. Another one to mention is ARMA (records management association) they have a strong legal membership and if your library is involved with conflicts or records its a great resource both at the local and national level. I'd also recommend looking for non-legal associations such as professional business associations, I recently joined one for professional businesswomen in California (PBWC)and have found its topics on leadership and management very relevant to my work. And its always good to get out of the "echo chamber" that is legal focused associations, it's also a good networking and potential business development opportunity even if you aren't a practicing attorney.

  • Anonymous

    Quite quiet indeed.

  • Anonymous

    Association of Legal Administrators (ALA)

    The Law Office Management Association (TLOMA)

    Legal Marketing Association (LMA)

    Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA)

    Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP)

    Strategic Management Society (SMS)

  • MG

    I agree completely. Managers should be encouraged to look at these sorts of options when conference time comes around. We have had people attend the ALA conference and they found it very rewarding.

    If you have any responsibility for training services, ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) is also a good choice.