Uncooked Data

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

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.

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

Westlaw’s Annotated Statutes & Legislative Drafting

On Wednesday 16 September I went to Westlaw’s launch of their annotated statutes service.

This looks to be an interesting addition content on Westlaw; giving interpretations, guidance on new and recent laws. It is interesting to note the emphasis that content is written specifically for the online environment –  a  reference to the fact the service is being developed in light of Lexis Library’s hosting of Halsbury’s Laws.

The launch centred on an entertaining talk from Daniel Greenberg, Parliamentary Counsel. He is leading the team, currently around 40 freelancers, who are adding the new content to Westlaw.

Daniel’s talk was arranged around three difficulties with legislation: it is complex, technical and obscure. He illustrated the need for legislation to be adequately available to the man in the street using several major cases including ZL & VL v Secretary Of State For The Home Department And Lord Chancellor’s Department [2003] EWCA Civ 25 which hinged on whether a delay between an Act receiving Royal Assent and its publication meant the legislation was not enforceable – a real example of how the process of producing legislation can have consequences.

He noted that, in the face of criticism of lengthy legislation, it was not wise to ‘sacrifice certainty for simplicity.’ The explanation of why legislation is often referential was helpful too. Using insolvency as an example, Daniel explained that SI 2009/356 was drafted to enable speedy and accurate comparisons to be made with the existing insolvency Acts. If the information had been subsumed within other legislation, this process would have been more complicated. It is claimed to be easier to see which parts of existing legislation have been amended or apply in certain situations if one is referred to an SI.

My notes here say ‘poodles and building societies’ which I believe is in part a reference to s84 of the Banking Act 2009, which illusrates this approach. This section sets out in table form where the provisions of the Banking Act apply to building societies, and where they do not. So in many cases, it is not the amount of information included in an Act, but the presentation of that information and the ability of the draftsman to lead his reader in a logical fashion through the legislation.

Two articles on the reading list, alongside the cases referred to, helped to illustrate this point and are worth a quick read if one is interested:

Greenberg, D. (2006). All trains stop at Crewe: The rise and rise of contextual drafting. European Journal of Law Reform. 7(1/2), p31.

Greenberg, D. (2008). Hansard, the whole Hansard and nothing but the Hansard. Law Quarterly Review. 124 (April) p181.

Filed under: Event report, , ,

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