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Library related events, questions and links: My professional life on a page

SLA Conference 2011

I’ve recently returned from SLA’s annual conference in Philadelphia. It’s taken me a week to recover from a packed few days of activities – kicking off at 07:00 on Sunday 12 June and wrapping up at about 11pm on Wednesday 15th. In that time I…

  • attended Leadership Development Institute: hearing about financial changes, Board of Directors candidates and the Loyalty project
  • took part in the Rising Stars and Fellows round table
  • received my Rising Star award
  • went to my first Legal Division board meeting
  • co-ordinated SLA Europe drinks (thanks to TFPL for sponsorship)
  • welcomed people to the International Reception
  • learned about Loyalty
  • discovered the science behind ice-cream
  • took tea with the Legal Division
  • enjoyed cookies with LMD and listened to Ned talk about his conference experience
  • unconferenced with the Legal Division
  • ate ice-cream with this year’s Early Career Conference Awardees and was inspired by their enthusiasm
  • listened to debate in Chapter cabinet and Joint cabinet
  • had a drink with a colleague I’ve never met before
  • caught up with old friends
  • talked to plenty of new people

And by the end of Wednesday, I was just about ready to start all over again and do all the things I didn’t get time to do…visit the Expo, see 60 sites in 60 seconds, see Philadelphia, run, go to a Business & Finance open house… there were just not enough hours in the day!

After I left Philadelphia, I spent a couple of days in New York. I’m planning to write more about that over on Running Life in the next day or so, as it was a rather fun trip recovering from conference.

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Filed under: Event report, Personal narrative

Breakfast basics – Twitter for the Terrified

On 15 April, kindly hosted by Perfect Information, SLA Europe presented a breakfast session aimed at those for whom social media is as yet unchartered territory. My PhD research has involved a lot of thinking about engagment with online communication. So although I would never cite myself as an expert, more an averagely competent user/ participant, I’ve seen and been part of many discussions on the usefulness or otherwise of social media sources. The opinions voiced were definitely my own take on this – not necessarily the same as the rest of SLA, SLA Europe or friends or employers.

We had an engaging conversation on why you might want to sign up for a Twitter account; what the advantages and disadvantages might be; how to manage the information flow; identity and anonymity and some of the third party services that are out there. It really was touching just the tip of the iceberg, but I think folk found it interesting. At least, they stayed awake until 9am! The slides I used as a background to the discussion are on Slideshare.

Filed under: Event report, SLA Europe

BookNext: The Future of Reading

As SLA Europe President I was invited to speak at BookNext, the 4th Spring Event hosted by the American Embassy and the American University in Rome at the end of March. The theme for the event was the rise and rise of the ebook and we had a number of presentations from users and vendors discussing their impact and adoption.There’s some great video and photographs giving a real flavour of the event on the event’s website.

Mine was possibly a mildly dissenting voice; talking about how ebooks restrictions (licence and format) and vendors’ options mean their use in London law libraries is minimal. Key legal textbooks are either in print or used via vendors’ databases, not as standalone downloadable products.

Christopher Platt told an engaging story about the New York Public Library and its ebook issuing service – reflecting the libraries’ ability to reach its audience when the library is closed; issues around the way that ebooks are accessed. We don’t ask patrons to find physical books based on their publisher, but that’s the way that ebooks are arranged if every vendor has their own platform. Antonella De Robbio discussed the way that publisher and author rights have not changed despite the changes in printing and distribution and wondered if it wasn’t time for an update in the expectations around intellectual property.

Across the board it was interesting to see the same issues are being addressed – are publishers talking to libraries, or making assumptions about what will work? How do we influence the way ebooks can be borrowed to ensure our users get the best options?

Personally, I found the experience of speaking at a bilingual conference intriguing; each time a speaker changed language there was a flurry of activity as folk removed or used their headsets. Meeting Italian and American participants was also fun. Gimena Campos-Severa and Fransiska Wallner worked hard to produce a well attended, thought provoking and exhausting day. Thank you for the invitation and for the opportunity to see the beautiful city of Rome.

Filed under: Event report, SLA Europe,

LIKE 22- What is KM, really?

LIKE 22 addressed the question ‘What is KM, really?’ with a mix of short talks and table discussions. I’m interested in understanding more about how KM has moved on from rigid databases and the use of the concept outside of the legal profession. My interest was matched by the content and conversations and the fishcakes were pretty good, too.

So briefly we fishcake-scoffers decided that KM was about:

  • Better decision making
  • Not re-inventing the wheel
  • Apprenticeship models

The barriers to effective knowledge sharing provided further discussion. One point that I was intrigued by was that many excuses for non-participation revolve around status. How does one make sharing know how as status friendly as being due for a flight to New York?

One idea was that video capture of interviews post-project could build into a tagged searchable database. Not easy to implement well but more user-friendly, perhaps.

We talked about the “Joan with all the knowledge.” What happens when they leave? In retrospect we didn’t hit on the point that we think this issue is important: but plenty of firms make folk redundant and don’t suffer ill effects – or at least not that they admit when the bottom line is all that matters.

As well as great food and interesting company the evening sparked off several lines of thought. The ideas are relevant for my PhD: one issue is that the website builders work in isolation wasting time and effort repeating the same mistakes, and not learning from successes.

Filed under: Event report, ,

Winter Warmer Quiz

Last night was SLA Europe’s perennially popular Winter Warmer Quiz. AskTony provided the questions and SLA Europe members and friends provided the atmosphere for what was a really fun evening. There was much laughter from our team (named Fleur Boat: an anagram of Table Four) and we eventually placed third behind Team Gav, and last year’s winners Olivers Wisemen. Considering I was on the last-placed team in 2010 that was rather an improvement – although my ability to name the Paddington Bear theme tune in about three notes of music was probably my biggest contribution. Fortunately there was no picture round – since I rarely watch TV I am hopeless at recognising faces. Now if there was a Radio 4 voices round, I’d be in with a chance.

Thanks to the SLA Europe events team for their hard work with the organisation; and to Swets, who not only sponsored but sent two very helpful participants.

Filed under: Event report, SLA Europe

Leadership Summit 2011

Between 19 – 22 January I was in a chilly Washington, D.C. attending SLA’s Leadership Summit. This event provides opportunities for unit leaders and leaders-elect to come together, learn from each others’ experience, share ideas and build relationships. I’ve just recorded a podcast with Dennie Heye for the SLA Europe blog, so I won’t repeat myself here about the technical and serious aspects of the Summit.

Instead I’ll share a few other reflections. I’d already visited Washington, D.C. in 2009 as one of four Early Career Conference Award winners. It’s about two years ago since I completed that application form, little forseeing how success would have an impact on life. So it was nice to be back in the same city and to think about how much more I knew and understood about SLA, the information world and probably – cheesy though it sounds – myself. Being at Leadership with only two other UK people was also interesting; a real sense of building our own connections and not being overshadowed – or being able to hide behind – other long-standing SLA Europe colleagues.

I’ve got some great ideas to share with the rest of SLA Europe; probably several fairly rubbish ideas too, but I’m not precious about the things I suggest being accepted or rejected! It was good to see how strong we are as a Chapter. I had a fun time hanging out with the Kentucky chapter – friendly and also great at retrieving lost property… and Valerie drinks one of my local brews. (I still get excited by this kind of connection). I also spent some time with folk from the Legal Divsion and other divisions who are so-sponsoring the ECCAs for 2011.

I was part of a panel presenting ideas about building community finances; we shared our thoughts and practices on this. SLA Europe made a good showing at the conference, with this formal presentation and our ability to socialise (Darron’s dancing in particular!)

I’ve come to expect and take for granted the networking opportunities that all the SLA events provide, I love the way that Facebook/ Linked In/ Twitter connections are made in the days following events. I hope that we in Europe can replicate some of that welcome and facilitate growing networks for our members locally as part of the value of our organisation.

Filed under: Event report, , , , ,

LIKE, the Echo Chamber and Supreme Court

This week, Uncooked Data has been to three different and interesting events. In an ideal world I’d have blogged separately about them, but I’m rather running out of week…

On Tuesday, Westlaw hosted drinks at the Supreme Court. This was an opportunity to revisit the building (having been there on a CLIG-organised visit about a year ago), and to hear from Thomson Reuters about their ideas and plans. I also had a chance to catch up with legal librarian colleagues I’d not seen for a little while. Thanks to Westlaw for an enjoyable evening.

Wednesday saw me hot-footing it to the City Business Library to hear the about the exciting Voices for the Library project and how they’re beginning to make inroads into the mainstream media, making the case for the value of library spaces and crucially, professional library staff. Bethan Ruddock and Jo Anderson outlined the development of the website and their social media strategy. The event, run by SLA Europe, was themed around the idea that we need to escape from the ‘echo chamber,’ to be able to reach outside of our library peers and be heard as campaigning professionals. Ned Potter and Laura delivered an inspiring talk on this – I’d forgotten how annoyed I’d been earlier in the year at the KPMG report that assumed all librarians did was arrange books on shelves, and the way Newsnight quoted circulation figures for UK libraries that were out by a factor of 1,000. Details are all on the Echo Chamber prezi. There are writeups of the event at the View from the Hill blog, Laura’s, and SLA Europe recorded the whole thing, so do keep an ear out for the podcast. I’ll admit that although I’ve kept an eye out for VtfL’s work, and seen it discussed on Twitter, I’d not given it a whole lot of attention. Its focus is public libraries, and so I’m concerned, I’m not committed. My sector has already seen job cuts, downgrading and outsourcing. We qualified librarians are in this together as far as I am concerned – but I wonder how many public librarians think I have a really easy job, and vice versa? I work in the City, so I must be loaded…? We didn’t have a great deal of post-presentation chat time, but I did get to talk briefly with Annie Mauger from CILIP and Phil Bradley.

And it’s Thursday… so it must be LIKE… This was LIKE 20, and the first I’d managed to attend. Lesley Robinson took us through the gentle art of networking (you think joining a group of strangers is difficult…have you tried extricating yourself gracefully from the dullest conversation in the world?) Exposure to the SLA and North American networking means I’m pretty comfortable walking into a roomful of strangers, but even so it was nice to bump into someone I knew on the way in this evening! LIKE is a great bunch of people and a very successful community. I hope to have more free evenings on the last Thursday of the month in 2011 so  I can make a few more of the meetings.

And if you’re wondering what I did on Monday, I went to a recording of The Infinite Monkey Cage for R4. And tomorrow? Tomorrow I’m just going to the lovely Bricklayers, a stone’s throw from Uncooked Data’s HQ, to catch up with a lovely aspiring poet friend.

Filed under: Event report, personal effectiveness, SLA Europe, , ,

If they’re not filing, you’re not finding…

On Monday 8 November Uncooked Data had the pleasure of attending a CLIG event purely as participant, after several years as a committee member.

Barry Vickery and Peter Jenkins from 7Side Ltd presented an entertaining run through of the mysteries and vagaries of finding company information in a variety of jurisdictions.

Starting with the easy ones, and the UK’s Companies House, we had a compare and contrast session…
Malta: “a cracking little registry
Latvia, Estonia, Hungary: “pretty good
Poland: “sometimes comical
Russia: “nightmare

Moving on to the US (“it might be the land of dreams, but it is the land of extremes”) Barry explained exactly why so many companies incorporate in the “teeny tiny” state of Delaware and just how useful the ‘general purpose clause’ might be.

Then we went offshore to the Channel Islands & the Isle of Man before heading out to more far flung places: Seychelles, Bahamas, Bermuda and the Marshall Island (“worse than Russia. You might get a name & date of incorporation but anything else is very very very very very unlikely*”) I’ve often been asked for information on Marshall Islands businesses and now I’m able to quote 7Side’s mantra “if they’re not filing, you’re not finding.” With studied understatement the challenge of getting information on a Cayman Islands company was described as ‘a bit of a pain.’

The highlight for me was learning how to make a company disappear – how different filing regimes can be combined to obscure the existence of offshore subsidiaries. One participant suggested that one can check the Cayman Islands registry, but oftentimes what we need is evidence linking similarly named entities together. Now I understand how this disappearing trick might work, I can explain it more effectively the next time I’m asked to help find a hidden company. As it was pointed out, companies are registered offshore for a reason.

We concluded with a look at common suffixes – where one might find a GmBH, an OOO or a YEH (sound more interesting than our plain old PLC).

7side are experts in what they do and this depth of experience shows clearly in this kind of informative and entertaining event. They know what we need to know. Thanks to Jas Breslin for hosting the event and to Mary, Barry and Peter for providing the insight.

*I counted and clarified the number of verys – important to be able to feed back to enquirers…

Filed under: Event report, research, , , ,

BIALL US Librarians’ group

I have just been to my first BIALL US librarians’ meeting (easy, as it was hosted in our offices). I’ve not been to an actual meeting before, although I joined the mailing list not long after I started my current role. As with most peer networks its value lies in the informal swapping of information and experience in a Chatham House rules environment… so clearly I can’t really talk in any detail about the discussion. But it’s always interesting to be in a place where a colleague raises an issue, to be met with agreement, empathy, and general suggestions of good practice.

Conversation was about issues of time zones, communication (George Bernard Shaw and his common language got a look in) and working in a cross-border environment.  Interesting stuff although as I am not currently personally involved in negotiations or management, it’s useful context. Some of the topics discussed were also relevant to my role within the SLA; time zones always an interesting challenge to overcome.

Filed under: Event report, , ,

Energy Resources at SLA 2010

I’m still going through my notes from the sessions at SLA conference and I just found the handout from the session run by David A. Brackus and Stephanie Byrd from the Petroleum & Energy Resources Division division on finding free energy resources. I’ll admit to not having stayed for the whole session – there was just too much going on.  Our library is receiving more and more requests for this kind of information, though, and I picked up some good pointers. Their handout with useful links is available on the SLA website here.

This session encapsulates one of the major advantages of the SLA. Its breadth of membership means there are people working in so many sectors that someone, somewhere, is an expert in an area I may need only a passing reference to. That passing reference, though, will need to be reliable, accurate and trustworthy – something I am not necessarily able to judge myself. Our enquiries here can send us in all sorts of directions – that’s why I love this job – and knowing that there are knowledgable and helpful folk out there makes it even better.

Filed under: Event report, ,

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