Friday, September 26, 2008

Electronic Resource Review Blog from Nina Platt

I picked up on this from Slaw a few days ago,when Connie rightly recognized that supporting fellow entrepreneurial librarians (anyone got a list?) is a good thing. So I'm happy to relay that Nina Platt, owner and principal at Nina Platt Consulting, Inc., has another added another top-notch blog to her publishing network, Electronic Resource Review.

Nina already has two very popular blogs, Strategic Librarian and The Law Firm Intranet. But in amidst her writing on marketing, strategy, and planning, she discovered there are certain topics she “just can’t leave alone.” She saw potential for Electronic Resource Review, whose tagline is “news about new and existing electronic resources worth knowing about". How's that for good news?

Nina’s first couple of posts cover KM tools, company research services, and Google's recent newspaper digitization project. There won't be any shortage of material I imagine. The number of electronic resources available isn't exactly on a decline, and there seems to be a dearth of quality review websites, I think... So, go Nina! Well done. :)

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Librarian Brand Management: Not Just for Lawyers

CBA National editor-in-chief Jordan Furlong really struck a chord among lawyers and legal industry types with his recent Law21 post, “We are all solos”. A more detailed paper on these issues is in the works...

His basic message to lawyers is this: you can’t rely on your firm or anyone else to care about and tend to your personal professional reputation. Adopting the hardworking, fend-for-yourself attitude of a sole practitioner is the only way of ensuring your personal brand and reputation have integrity and staying power.

What makes this worth mentioning to those of us who support the legal industry is that the advice goes for all of us. Jordan’s post and the follow up discussion dovetail nicely with the topic of self-promotion for librarians, and especially for law librarians. We'd all do well to keep it in mind.

Here's a simple question: are credibility and authority less important to a librarians as they are to lawyers? Sure, we’re not in the public eye in the same way. And we don't necessarily need to develop business (ok, well I do... but you get the drift) in the same ways as lawyers do. But at the end of the day, don’t we all want to be known for being good at our jobs? for being trustworthy and knowledgeable colleagues?

SLA president Stephen Abram cuts right to the chase in his “Info Tech” column in August’s issue of Information Outlook. He says, “Librarians cannot afford to be anonymous and generic… We need to state that we’re pretty good more often…. How can we expect to raise our professional profile if we don’t remove the cloak and shyness and head out into the big world of professional services?”

He’s absolutely right. There has never been a riper time for information pros to get out there, take charge of, and promote their own reputations.

Not everyone needs to be well-known, and not everyone aspires to be published or quoted or regarded as a leader. That's not what I'm talking about. But personal reputation does matter. When you’re thinking about a change of jobs, or asking for a raise, or trying for a promotion. And as long as the internet keeps increasing its role in our lives, at the very least, we should be aware of what our online reputations say about us. This should be a priority; at the collective, professional level, and at the individual, personal level.

As I've said before, Librarians were early adopters and opened some big roads through blogging. But blogging, though effective, isn’t for everyone: it takes a certain amount of time and commitment. I get that. But there are plenty of other places and ways to engage the web. And Library professionals need to recognize they have a responsibility to make sure their personal identity is 1) well-maintained and 2) accurate.

Your future employer is going to search your name. Do you know what they're going to find? what that says about you? You should. And yes, if they find nothing, that says something too!

So here's the take away: Plenty of our colleagues have found that they’re very comfortable (and even having fun!) on Twitter, charting their personal network on LinkedIn, or contributing to group blogs (e.g., VALL Blog and ELLA Blog). Are you social bookmarking? And if so, are you using the networking feature to establish connections with your colleagues? There's a law library social network over at Ning. Did you know that? Every one of these tools can pay dividends, and each in a slightly different way.

Abram points out that there was a time when it was controversial for a firm librarian to have a business card. Now, as he asserts, that’s the bare minimum; and that “Our reputation will play out in the social web space as much as anywhere else. We need to get good at this.”

Yes we do. The simple fact is: librarians need to create & engage the online world in some capacity. Especially if you're under 50 (maybe under 60, for that matter). The benefits are good for the profession, and for individuals.

I can't help but feel that those that don't, are going to pay a price.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Google's New "Historical Treasure Trove"

Anyone who’s worked in a private law library has faced the daunting task of finding a needle in the haystack of old newspapers. It could be anything: an advertisement, photo, obituary, or some other item that never got indexed when being processed for microfilm or electronic database. In those situations, unless you have a very good idea of when the mystery item appeared, your chances of finding it are slim—pretty much your only option is to get up close and personal with the microfiche reader at the local library.

So Google's announcement that it will be digitizing archives of newspapers from around the globe is pretty cool. And not just just the articles, but also ads, headlines, and photos--in short, all that peripheral content from outside the day's story.

There doesn’t appear to be a comprehensive list of newspapers participating, and coverage does seem a bit patchy still. But a few random searches pulled hits from the Vancouver Times from as far back as 1864, and the Vancouver Daily Post from 1865. And on the proud Canadian front, the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph (according to Google, the oldest newspaper in North America) is also there, along with a 1822 copy of the Montreal Herald.

The digitized content is easy to navigate: you can link right to an article or a specific issue of a newspaper. It also offers a fascinating glimpse into historical material that might not make the grade for a vetted history book ... see for instance, this invitation to a "public and gratuitous lecture at the city tavern"!

The newly digitized content is available by searching the Google News Archive, which yields results from a variety of sources, not just Google’s own collections. Some of these sources are free, while others do require a a pay-per-view subscription.

And finally ... typical of the Google approach here... while the search interface is pretty simple up front, search control can be found under the hood -- use the advanced search for drilling down on language, source, date, price, etc., within the results.


Friday, September 12, 2008

The Thomas Cromwell Pages

The Thomas Cromwell PagesMy friends over at Slaw (not me this time...) are up to their usual innovative tricks with the release of a new project, “The Thomas Cromwell Pages”.

On September 5, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper nominated Mr. Justice Thomas A. Cromwell (currently of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal) to fill the vacancy on the SCC bench. And since the Office of the Commissioner of Federal Judicial Affairs hasn’t yet published a website for Justice Cromwell, who better to rummage up some information on the potential SCC judge than the bloggers of Slaw and their loyal readers?

The Cromwell Pages includes links to online information (articles, news items, Cromwell's judgments & publications, etc.) dealing with Justice Cromwell and the judicial selection process.

Want to get in the game? There’s also a bookmarks page that anyone can contribute to – and here’s where you come in. Simply save the relevant page in Delicious, tag it with “thecromwellpages”, and it will appear shortly in the Cromwell Pages list of bookmarks.


Friday, September 05, 2008

5 Blogs 5 Blawgers Roundup

Hate to admit it but I spent some time reading the 5 blogs 5 blawgers meme last night, and enjoyed a lot of the entries.

In case you feel the same, here's a short list of the participants I could find so far...
The grumpy list entries from Scott Greenfield and David Giacalone were worth a look. Very funny. :)


Quickscribe Manual Updates for August

Thursday, September 04, 2008

5 Blogs & 5 Blawgers

Was tagged in by Simon Fodden... When it comes to memes I probably feel the same as most bloggers: a big time waster, but kind of fun. So ok... I'm in.

Here's the gist: name 5 great non-law blogs, and then propagate the ponzi link scheme meme by tagging 5 other law blogs. Here's what I've got for my non-law list, with a short note on why I read them:
  • RexBlog - Rex Hammock is a web strategist, and a long-time web guy. I grabbed his feed after recognizing him from his early days, which has since been turned into a wiki. Rex is very even handed when it comes to web trends, and as I've said here in the past, I'm not a black and white kind of guy. I like shades of grey. Rex reminds me not to get too excited or too negative. A healthy perspective.
  • TPwireservice - TP, as in Tom Peters the business author. The service, not Tom likely, provides daily roundups of links to vetted business content. I read it because it points me in new directions, and because I like services where others do the sifting for me. (Kinda like we Librarians!)
  • Dave Weinberger - I started reading Dave Weinberger because of Cluetrain, but these days, it's more for the nuggets about information behaviour and blogging style. Dave's a consistent blogger who leaves his personal print on everything he writes. A good example of how blunt, unappologetic, and (sometimes) funny works for blog commentary.
  • Phil Bradley - Phil is a prolific writer & blogging librarian; almost always on topics I have an interest in - search engine trends, web content & design, and of course Libraries. You can get Phil's published content in numerous places, but I like the added personal touches on his blog.
  • D'Arcy Norman dot net - D'Arcy uses many of the same interweb tools I do, but in the education space rather than the legal industry. I read for the new directions, and for his perspective on common challenges - eg. transitioning from techie code perspective to big picture thinking.
And for relay, I'm pointing to:


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

CALL Employment Satisfaction Survey

I can't fill out this survey as I no longer work in a Canadian law library, but I wish I could.

If you are a member of CALL, please make me feel better by filling it out. Survey participation is a great way to contribute to the Associations you belong to.