“All Problems Are Communications Problems.”

This is Greg’s go to phrase when it comes to working with and leading others. Marlene actually beats Greg to the punch this week when they talk with this week’s guest, Heather Ritchie. Heather is the Chief Knowledge and Business Development Officer at Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP in Toronto, and as her title suggests, she wears multiple leadership hats at her firm. In her recent ILTA KM article, “12 Ways Marketing & Business Development Can Leverage Library & Knowledge Management Teams,” Ritchie walks us through the value of collaborating between the Marketing/Business Development, Knowledge Management, and Library operations of a law firm. Knowing who brings what talent to the table is key to creating stable and successful environment which results in wins for the law firm. 

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How Is Your Business Changing the Legal Industry?

In part two of our three part series, we hear from four more providers of legal industry products on how they are changing the industry. This week we hear from:

Information Inspirations: Continue Reading Episode 27: Heather Ritchie on Marketing, BD, KM, and Library Collaboration

On December 23rd,  Arun
Jethmalani, Founder & Managing Director at ValueNotes Database Pvt. Ltd. in India, published an article to LinkedIn
Debates about Competitive Intelligence that will never be resolved
.  The article essentially lays out five of the
canonical questions that are a constant dialogue in the CI community. I won’t
share his insights, you’ll have to read the article for that, but the five
questions he puts forward are:
Should CI be strategic or tactical?
Where should CI reside?
Insight versus information?
How to calculate RoI on competitive intelligence?
What exactly is competitive intelligence?

I would add two questions, that may be a bit more controversial:
Is CI a profession or a set of competencies? 
 And does it even matter? 

There are several comments on the article, including one from
me where I suggest that the answers to all the questions are blowing in the corporate
culture.  For law firms especially, I
think the existential question of what CI is or should be – a library function,
a marketing role, a KM/BD hybrid is fun to think about in your spare time, but
analysis paralysis (hat tip to Fleisher
and Bensoussan
) gets you nowhere.  As
we usher in 2015, I think the article and its underlying questions is a great reminder
to know your clients, know your audience and anticipate their needs – be they
intel – or otherwise.  The ability to
deliver answers, insights, and whatever else is needed on time, just in time,
and in advance, is the ultimate factor for CI success and happiness.  However you define it. 

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.

    I recently stumbled across a report, How College Students Evaluate and Use Information in the Digital Age, from Project Information Literacy (PIL). The report was published in November of 2010, based on research conducted in the spring of that year. Therefore, some of these students might be entering your firms this year as summer associates or have already joined your ranks in other positions.

    The entire report is fascinating, but one particularly disturbing finding was about how these students use librarians, especially as compared to their responses from the prior year. In ranking “Sources used for Course-Related Research”, the students placed librarians second from the bottom (above Blogs) at 30%, down from 47% the prior year. When asked about their personal “Everyday Life Research”, the students ranked librarians at the very bottom at 14%, down from 33%.
    I think it is fabulous that Librarians were listed as a “source” right along with Google and Wikipedia, and that as early as 2009, almost half of the students used librarians as a source. What isn’t so great is the 17% drop in just one year. 
    What is also interesting is that PIL found in a 2009 study that the students do use the library, but just not the librarians or the services provided.

    As a whole, the results suggested that students do, in fact, use libraries—but most of the respondents used library resources—not librarian-related services.

    I happen to believe that law students, as opposed to undergraduates, do utilize the librarians as sources to assist them and that some of this does carry over into the law firm. However, it still feels like we are starting in a hole and trying to back-fill our way up to level ground. 
    How can we get there? PIL offers a thought-provoking recommendation in the 2009 report:

    Librarians should systematically (not just anecdotally) examine the services they provide…this may require looking at things through a new lens, if need be. Questions should be addressed about how and why services and resources are used—not only how often (e.g., circulation or reference desk statistics)…At the same time, we recommend librarians seriously question whether they are developing a set of “niche services,” which only reach a small percentage of [users].

    The recommendation that we examine the “how and why” we do what we do is absolutely key and one that we need to be able to answer in a way that makes sense to management and clearly demonstrates value. So take any statistics you are currently gathering and add in this component. It might make a big difference.

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

    Image [cc] cseeman

    That celebratory sound you heard from your local library today was your librarian reading the Kirtsaeng v. Wiley (PDF) case handed down by the US Supreme Court this morning. I’ve added a statement on the case from The Owners’ Rights Initiative, about the Supreme Court ruling that even books purchased outside the United States are subject to the ‘First Sale Doctrine’ as long as they are legally purchased (piracy is still a no-no), and brought into the United States. As Duke University’s Kevin Smith wrote about the decision, “It seems that libraries have really ducked a bullet here.” However, he also warns that we should also be on the lookout for changes in the First Sale Doctrine brought in by the publishers through the US Congress. So, stay vigilant my librarian friends!!

    Owners’ Rights Initiative Applauds Supreme Court Decision in
    Kirtsaeng v. Wiley Case

    March 19, Washington, D.C. – The Owners’ Rights Initiative (ORI) issued the following statement today after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6-3 opinion in favor of Kirtsaeng, reversing the Second Circuit Court decision. The majority opinion, authored by Justice Breyer, clearly affirmed that the Copyright Act was not intended, and cannot be misconstrued, to limit the distribution of authentic goods. Andrew Shore, Executive Director of ORI said:

    “ORI is gratified by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Supap Kirtsaeng in this important copyright case. This decision is a landmark win for consumers, small businesses, online marketplaces, retailers and libraries nationwide and an affirmation of the ORI motto, ‘you bought it, you own it.’ This decision definitively affirms the first sale doctrine, cementing the right of consumers and organizations to sell, lend and give away goods that they bought and own, regardless of where those goods were made.

    “While we are energized by this decision, we expect that some will continue attempts to eliminate owners’ rights, reduce competition in the marketplace and restrict the global trade of authentic goods. ORI will continue to be vigilant and diligent in protecting owners’ rights now and in the future and we expect policymakers to do the same.”

    Many ORI members have issued statements about the Supreme Court’s opinion. These comments will be made available on the ORI website at www.ownersrightsinitiative.org


    About Owners’ Rights Initiative
    The Owners’ Rights Initiative (ORI) is a diverse coalition of businesses, associations and organizations that have joined together to protect ownership rights in the United States. ORI believes in the fundamental premise that if you bought it, you own it, and should have the right to sell, lend or give away your personal property. Members include:  American Free Trade Association, American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Service and Computer Dealers International and the North American Association of Telecommunications Dealers (AscdiNatd), Association of Research Libraries, Computer and Communications Industry Association, Chegg, CXtec, eBay Inc., Etsy, Goodwill Industries International, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Impulse Technology, International Imaging Technology Counsel (ITC), Internet Commerce Coalition, Just Between Friends, Network Hardware Resale, Overstock.com, Inc., Powell’s Books, Quality King Distributors, Radwell International, Redbox, United Network Equipment Dealers Association (UNEDA), and XS International. 

    Visit http://ownersrightsinitiative.org for more information.

    You’ve all read/heard my take on aggregators here at 3 Geeks, and how there was a time when having access to information was in and of itself a competitive advantage. Simply knowing what your competitors or market were doing was currency. We all have more access to information today than any of us dreamed was possible even 15 or 20 years ago. Much of that information is readily available and free. In fact, information or data is so accessible that crowd sourcing and gathering of it online in places like Wikipedia is common place, even cited with growing integrity in university term papers and the like (ethics of which is not my topic, though I am sure many of you have ideas on that….feel free to guest post about it!)

    I have suggested in previous posts that how we sort or filter the raw data is how we keep from contributing to information overload. Key to this process is determining what is good to know versus need to know versus interesting but maybe I don’t need to know that right now. Even when we’ve filtered that down, we still need to aggregate the relevant information by having Library or Intelligence teams sort and collate it into newsletters, alerts, RSS feeds or other helpful, readable tools. Finally, I’ve suggested that, depending up your resources, the process can be done manually or with any one of the commercially available tools available for purchase that can help us aggregate. You’ve read previous posts (hopefully), where I’ve asked, How Do We Make Them Read, and reviewed a series of aggregators a list that continues to grow and improve and then several months later, I suggested we are Almost There with a new series of product offering.

    A recent exercise in my own firm has lead to me understand that aggregating with the help of technology is not enough! I now understand that friends don’t let friends aggregate alone.
    Borne out of necessity and fiscal responsibility, when three departments at my firm all asked for budget for an aggregator in 2013, it was suggested that we work together to find one that suits all of our needs rather than to aggregate content – possibly the same content – three times, in three different ways.
    On the surface, it seems like an easy and smart solution. But when you start to get down to the specific needs of each department (in my case, Intelligence/Business Development, Knowledge Management and Library & Information Resources), it seemed an insurmountable ask. How each department engages with internal and external information and brokers that information, turning it into intelligence, practice efficiency, current awareness or a business development opportunity and combine those different points of view with the need for Systems and IT compatibility and you start to think that maybe this seemingly obvious task is actually impossible. The sheer volume of information alone is one problem. The rest of the problem is in acknowledging the mandates of the different departments will cause each one to consume and reuse the information in different ways.
    Therefore each department needs its own set of tools and distribution methods. Right? Hence the three requests for three different products? Right? Once up on a time the answer would have been yes, but if the last three months has taught me anything, it is the fact that all law firm administration departments really all want the same thing.
    We all want our lawyers to be smarter, better, and more efficient at delivering client service and value and for our own departments to be seen as contributing to the bottom line rather than being dreaded cost centres especially since 2008. How we each achieve this goal will be executionally unique, but asking for three sets of tools would be akin to a carpenter, a cabinet maker and mechanic suggesting that what they each describe as a hammer is specific and unique to their line of work. Not true. How they each use the hammer might differ and which type of hammer they use might differ from time to time but at the end of the day, a hammer is a hammer.
    So can we find an aggregator that suits all of our needs? I believe the answer, despite our different methodologies and interactions, is yes. That answer does come with some challenges, however, the biggest of which is being open to learning and understanding of what each department needs, wants and is willing to let go. The discovery process will not be easy, nor will building a set of criteria for the “right” tool, but if you are willing to have the conversation, open yourself and your department up to scrutiny among friends, you will find that friends don’t let friends aggregate alone and you may find (as I did) that you can even learn a very useful thing or two about how the different departments think about and use information, which you can leverage toward successfully meeting your department’s goals. By sharing in the in discussions and finding one solution to work for all information providers, you can actually help move the agenda of smarter, better, more client focused lawyers along.
    Image [cc] mtsofan

    Very interesting story from The Daily Beast over the weekend that talks about the situation we have with public libraries in the United States, and the delimma of cutting services and budgets during a time when demand for these services is booming. In her story, “Can Libraries Survive in an Era of Budget Cutbacks?”, Miranda Green discusses what she refers to as the Catch 22 of today’s Public Library:

    Essentially, libraries are closing down just when their communities need them the most.

    Public libraries have been in the business of helping those in their community who lack their own resources for nearly as long as there has been such a concept of a public library. When times are hard, the group of people that need the resources provided by a public library increases, while at the same time, the funding structure tends to collapse. For those of us in the legal industry, we see a similar problem with Legal Aid programs.

    Green’s article lays out a number of challenges that public libraries face when the economy takes a downturn, or there is a natural disaster that effects the community. If you’re a librarian, you’ve probably heard all of these stories before. If you’re not a librarian, read the story, then read some of the comments below the story, and see the counter arguments. It is interesting to see what those with their own resources tend to see what the library does, and how easily it can be fixed. I think most librarians will agree with me about the common two-pronged answer that commenters (most of whom haven’t used a public library in years) make that say public libraries could easily be fixed if they:

    1. Made it look more like a Barnes & Noble
    2. Added in a Starbucks-like coffee bar

    Yes… that’s exactly what someone who is looking for work and having to use a library computer to job hunt because they don’t have a computer or Internet service back at their apartment needs. Public libraries provide services to those that lack the means to obtain those services on their own. Creating a B&N environment and coffee bar may be nice for those of us with means, but it is not the primary driver of the value a public library provides to its community. If the libraries fold, you can believe that Barnes and Noble or Starbucks will not be there to provide those services. It’s no more their job than it is the library’s to provide you with a coffee bar.

    Image [cc] jessamyn

    There is a theme that I hear from interviews of today’s struggling musicians, “I really wish we had been making music in the 90’s.” The idea behind that, although it might be like that Utopian 1950’s United States that never really existed, is that there was a time when people bought music, record companies supported bands through promotion and concert funding, and that if you were a good band that had a following, you could make a lot of money in the process. It seems that those of us in the Library, Information and Research profession think along the same lines as those musicians. There was a golden age where information was scarce, people needed our assistance in collecting that information, and we were there to support those in need of obtaining the information. Now, just like musicians, we wished there was a way to get back to those golden years, but we know that it is gone forever, and we struggle to define what it is that we can do that will still fill our desires to succeed in our professions.

    The problem with both the music world and the information world is that anyone can now cut a song or directly obtain information without going through the tradition processes of a music studio or a library. The once scarce resources are now so common that there seems to be almost no barriers to obtaining these resources. A five-dollar app on my iPad can produce high-quality music, and an Internet connection can bring in amazing amounts of high-quality information. No longer are music studios or libraries the only place to go to get what you need. That has caused an enormous amount of upheaval in both of these industries, and the professionals that work in these industries, but at the same time, the consumers of these industries have more options than ever. So, how do we, at least on the library and information side of this situation, adapt?

    The record industry is still trying to catch up with the paradigm shift, and they misfired on many occasions in adjusting to the shift by continually trying to find ways of getting their industry back to a model that simply didn’t exist any longer. Instead of looking at the needs of the consumer, they looked at the needs of the industry. The same might be said of the library industry. We look at ways that technology and services can be modified to give a better version of the same service instead of stepping back and creating new technologies and new services that fit the changing demands of the customers. In fact, we’ve probably spent too many years attempting to satisfy the needs of customers that will never, ever use us again because they can simply obtain what they want from a cheaper, faster resource (read: Google).

    Syracuse University’s professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship, David Lankes, discusses these changes in those that use information, and how those of us that believe we provide relevant information are not on the same page. A very good article on this topic is in this month’s Information Today, Inc. where Lankes comes right out and says that where we, as a profession, are going, is not where our customers are heading. To paraphrase Lankes, our customers are dreaming of the things they want to do, while the librarians are attempting to make them give up those dreams in order to follow the guidelines and rules we set up to make our own jobs easier. If we continue to try to make our customers fit into our defined services, we are destined to fail. Instead, we need to define our services based on those dreams of our customers. Since we are not the only game in town any longer, the customers will simply leave and go to those services that fulfill their dreams.

    For today’s musician as well as today’s librarian, there are amazing opportunities to serve a community in a way that makes you more valued by a smaller group of people. The same technology and shifts in the way customers access music/information that has caused us all headaches can also be leveraged in ways that expand our reach beyond our traditional customer base. For musicians, it is exposing the styles of your trade to groups of potential customers through self-promotion and understanding the different potential communities that are out there that desire to hear you, but just don’t know you exist. For the library, it is slightly different, but the idea is that you find out where your community wants to go, and for you to set up your services to help get them there and then partner with that community to help them get to the next place they want to go.

    The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) has collaborated to create a white paper on the set of skills needed for today’s librarian and information services professionals. Whether it is Knowledge Management, working with Practice Groups, Competitive Intelligence, Electronic Books, or the evolving trends within Legal Research or Emerging Technology, “The New Librarian,” as this white paper is entitled, discusses some of the challenges facing the law library profession and how librarians are confronting those challenges head on. There should be some familiar names listed as authors in this publication (including bloggers here at 3 Geeks) Here’s a list from the table of contents:

    Image [cc]euthman

    I was hopping from venue to venue at the Houston Press Music Awards last weekend, when I popped in on Leah White & The Magic Mirrors‘ show at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar to listen to Leah’s songs about all things Houston. About three songs into her set, Leah calls out to the crowd and asks “who here knows about the Julia Ideson Library?” Being the big library geek that I am, of course, I stuck my hand up and gave a big “thumbs up” to a song being written about an addition being added on to the main Houston Public Library (HPL) building complex.

    I have watched over the past few years as the building addition went up across the street from my office. Last year I had the pleasure of speaking at the same conference with HPL’s Associate Director for Planning & Facilities, Wendy Heger, at Rice University. Heger told us all the great story of how the designs of an addition to the Ideson library were scrapped decades ago, only to be revived, using many of the original specifications, and how the Julia Ideson Library ended up being one of the ‘greenest’ library buildings in the world.

    Leah setting up for a show.

    I asked Leah White to tell me how it was she was came up with the idea to write an entire album about Houston landmarks and how her audiences (mainly school aged children… although it was a 21+ crowd last weekend) react to hearing these songs.

    LW: Sarah Gish, a local Houston preservationist, found out that I had just written the official song of the Houston Zoo, Beautiful Day. She is on the Houston Historic Architectural Commission with the City of Houston and they were looking to find creative and fun ways to celebrate Houston’s 175th Birthday. So she contacted me and I wrote 14 original songs about landmarks that they had picked.

    GL: And the Julia Ideson Library song? How did it get included in the tribute to Houston’s 175th birthday?

    LW: The Julia Ideson was chosen because of its history and renovation/preservation efforts in its construction. Houston has a history of tearing down all of its historic buildings and this one was actually preserved. Phoebe Tudor, a supportive Houstonian and preservationist, embraced my album. She was one of the leaders on the Julia Ideson board and she hosted a party for the release of my album at her beautiful home last September.

    GL: How do you come up with the inspiration to write lyrics and music for something like a public library building?

    LW: When I wrote the song, I thought about my audiences. Typically, I’ve been an artist for families but for this album I was writing for all Houstonians. A song about a library had to be rockin’ because just the thought of singing a song about a library makes most people think it might sound subdued/ lame/quiet/ studious. Libraries are far from boring so I created lyrics about opening and exploring a “big world.” So, I turned the song into punk using strong power chords giving it a lot of rhythm and energy.

    GL: What sort of things stand out to you about the library and how do you include that in your lyrics?

    LW: I focused on the Julia Ideson’s purpose as special collections. I write lyrics about original copies of “Moby Dick” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Homage to special collections is also captured in the lyrics “this book is like magic in my mind. read the words and go through time. Alice in Wonderland and all the nursery rhymes stay young, forever preserved in time.”

    GL: What is it that you wanted to convey in the song?

    LW: In this song, I wanted the Julia Ideson Library to be a magical world preserving time and history. I wanted this song to be rocking because it was the genre of music least expected. I like to surprise people in this way with my music.

    Julia Ideson Library from my office

    Click on the embedded song below to hear Leah White and The Magic Mirrors sing about the great big world of the Julia Ideson Library. Leah’s music can be purchased on iTunesAmazon or CDBaby, and you can learn more about her other projects at LeahWhiteMusic.com and the Our Roots Are Strong website.

    So click play and sing along to the Julia Ideson Library (Big World)…

    Julia Ideson Library (big world)

    Go with me today away
    Like magic we’ll float away
    The walls of this place will come down
    With every word a new world is found

    It’s a big world It’s a big world
    Full of books I’d like to read
    It’s a big world It’s a big, big world
    Waiting for me at the Julia Ideson Library

    This place is magic in my mind
    Read a book and go through time
    Alice and wonderland and all the nursery rhymes
    Stay young forever preserved in time

    It’s a big world It’s a big world
    Full of books I’d like to read
    It’s a big world It’s a big, big world
    Waiting for me at the Julia Ideson Library

    Leave school and noise behind
    Homework at home and unwind
    Like magic we’ll travel float and see
    Oh I wonder who I’m gonna be

    Go with me today away
    Like magic we’ll float away

    It’s a big world It’s a big world
    Full of books I’d like to read
    It’s a big world It’s a big, big world
    Waiting for me at the Julia Ideson Library

    It’s a big world It’s a big world
    Full of books I’d like to read
    It’s a big world It’s a big, big world
    Waiting for me at the Julia Ideson Library