Navigating Rough Seas: Charting a Course for Success

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the annual NoCALL Spring Institute. This year the event was held in San Francisco at a hotel right off Union Square. It was a great opportunity to network with colleagues and friends, as well as, learning from one another through the fabulous programs.

I usually tweet during conferences as a way to keep my notes organized and accessible, but I forgot my laptop power cord, so I had to go the old-fashioned route and take notes with pen and paper. Egad! I wanted to share some of my personal highlights, if I can decipher my notes.

  • Karen’s presentation was extremely thought provoking. She is definitely challenging the status quo of the library catalog and how we organize information. As Karen pointed out, alphabetical is the cornerstone of library organization, however, Google isn’t alphabetical and neither is Amazon, yet people find what they need. As she stated, “meaning has replaced alphabetical order.”
  • Karen also showed us the kind of information that could be available using technology and analytics. She utilized WorldCat Identities to demonstrate how information could be presented to the end user. Here is a screenshot of a page for Neil Gaiman:
  • As you can see, there is information about the works authored by Gaiman, works written about him and if you slide down you can even see who is most often mentioned with him. This page is completely interactive. Karen believes in “making connections and surfacing the connections.”
  •  Karen closed with the mission of the library, “not to gather things into an inventory, but to organize things that have been inconveniently packaged”.
  • Context is Everything: Cost Recovery Models in Electronic Legal Research
    • This was a panel discussion with myself, Amy Wright from USF School of Law and Martha Campos from Morgan Lewis. A few of the highlights:
    • Amy detailed the USF placement statistics to help us understand why she focuses on cost recovery in a different way than others. USF sends a large portion of their graduates into public service work, and therefore, the overwhelming majority of students don’t really need to understand how large law firms recover costs. I thought this was a tremendous example of “knowing your audience”. Amy also stressed her constant refrain of “secondary sources”, which I know everyone appreciated!
    • Martha recapped a cost recovery program presented at the AALL Conference last summer. What was most interesting to me was that each of the panel members at that presentation had completely different cost recovery programs at their firms; from none at all to striving for 100%. This says to me that one size does not fit all and it doesn’t matter what someone else is doing, it only matters what works for your firm.
    • I spoke about the new research platforms and how the old cost recovery methodologies really don’t fit anymore. Usage is measured in completely different ways between the old and new, and current methodologies will have to change as your users start to migrate to these new platforms. Getting ahead of this trend is a great opportunity for information professionals to demonstrate value that goes right to the bottom-line.
  • Law Library Management in Challenging Times
    • This was a panel discussion between Kathy Skinner from Morrison & Foerster, Ron Wheeler from USF and Eric Wade from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This diverse group had great insight into may of the challenges we face today. Here are some of my notes:
    • Kathy spoke about the usage of project management and utilizing the entire team to tackle the transition from a siloed organization to a virtual team that provides close to 24/7 access to services.
    • Eric and Ron both stressed their commitment to the people in their organizations over just about everything else. Ron highlighted professional development as a real priority even in the lean times. It was a good reminder that we are a profession made up of people who can bring great value into our organizations with the right leadership.
    • Kathy gave us a new term for the library coined by one of the partners in their LA office: the loungebrary. The library in that office is adjacent to a lounge/collaboration space, so it has become a integral part of the office.
    I would also be remiss if I didn’t also mention Loyd Auerbach and his guided chocolate tasting. Loyd is the proprietor of Haunted by Chocolate. In a past life, Loyd was a most excellent Lexis representative and law librarian. Thank you for teaching us so much about chocolate Loyd!

    Colleen Cable is a Library Consultant for Profit Recovery Partners bringing the “consultant angle” to Three Geeks.