Friday, September 29, 2006

This Weekend! Run for the Cure

I am looking forward to Sunday's Run for the Cure. For about the 12th or 13th year (I've now lost track) I will be taking part in the 5 km walk in Toronto. This year I will have the privilege of walking with one of my heroes, a good friend who spent last year battling breast cancer and who is now healthy and strong. When I first started walking back then, I was touched by the stories I heard but never imagined how close to home it would hit years later.

I encourage you also to get out and walk in your city! If you can't walk, then please consider making a donation to support me or someone you know. My donation page.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Steve Matthews' Top 10 Uses for RSS in Law Firms

Steve Matthews has a winner with the post Top 10 Uses for RSS in Law Firms . Here is the quick list, and I encourage you to visit the original post for the full discussion:

Top 10 Uses for RSS in Law Firms

1) Current Awareness
2) RSS for Firm Marketing
3) Vanity Feeds
4) Internal Research Collections
5) Client Press
6) Feeding on Marketing Content for KM
7) Case Law & Legislative Changes
8) Aggregated Tagging
9) RSS Republishing
10) Feed Mixing & Filtering for Subject Collections

Very smart. I feel like I have only scratched the surface myself and look forward to trying more of these out. Steve has garnered a fair bit of attention with this post, including an endorsement by the Shifted Librarian, Jenny Levine.

Way to go, Steve!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Creativity and Innovation

Kia Ora. My name is Kay Samuels and I work with Connie. I am originally from New Zealand and came to Canada, via London, England, in 1996.

I have been thinking about using creativity and innovation to enhance my personal life and this has led me to reflect about how creativity augments my work life as well. My latest creation is this photo taken with a macro lens.

The inspiration to effect change comes from what we experience on a meaningful and personal level. We can then transfer this for use in the work setting. For example, I spent weekends this summer tasting Niagara wines and incorporated this by offering my training sessions as a wine tasting seminar. Here is one of the tastings offered:

Federal Legislation – Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2001
A smooth textured workshop with excellent potential. Intense and full-bodied with print
and online in complete harmony, you'll find legislative history characters on
the palate along with some delightful nuttiness.

There was enough of a positive response to consider this a moderate success. There are times when my innovative ideas fall on deaf ears, or palates, but I get enough triumphs to encourage me to try yet another new idea.
The gain is the energy received from brainstorming with collegues, creating posters or bookmarks and deciding which costume to wear this Hallowe'en.
What is your latest innovation?

I'm Back!

Well, I'm back! I spent two and a half fantastic, active weeks in Ireland. My friends and I touched down in Dublin the morning of September 1st and ran non-stop until we landed back on Canadian soil yesterday afternoon. For six days we walked the Ring of Kerry. To our surprise, the definition of walking in Ireland is very different than walking in Canada. "Extreme hiking" up and down mountains, through bracken, thistles, heather, mud and rocks was the order of the day. We walked through forests, bogs (which I assumed as my personal specialty), farmers' fields and along "small but obvious" sheep trails. We met sheep, cows, goats, dogs, and washed out roads. We waded through rivers and tried to avoid the mud as much as possible.

Then we dried ourselves out for a couple of days in the very lively Galway city (well, we dried our clothes out at any rate), where students arriving back at the local college mingled on the cobblestone roads with tourists from all over North America and Europe. High school students just back at school congretated in the local square just in front of our hotel, so overall it was a pretty wild place those two days. We ate and shopped, shopped and ate.

The next week we did a cycle tour of Connemara. Four "mad" Canadian women and a very tolerant couple from Maryland, along with our tourguide from Northern Ireland, Patsy. Patsy did his best to keep the six of us on the route when we cycled, and guide us off the route in the evenings. We had some amazing meals in local eateries and even enjoyed some local Irish music under his guidance. Not to mention the pints of Guinness and cider.

Then back to Dublin for a quick bus tour of the city, and a literary pub crawl in the evening. Then back home the next day! Whew! And I managed to avoid voicemail, email, and Internet the whole time. It was truly a fantastic, long overdue break.

Now I'm back and delighted to see Anh has managed to get a couple of terrific posts in. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences back at school, Anh! I hope you will stick around to post a bit more as time allows. It feels like you are just getting started.

My other surprise guest blogger ended up due to various circumstances being unable to post, but since she has some great ideas for posts, I invite her along when she has time.

As for myself, I am just gearing up for another conference this week so will be off to Chicago for the Ark seminar on library management best practices. I'll be talking on a couple of panels and also presenting a session on change management Thursday. Since I am still putting the finishing touches on everything, I probably won't get a chance to post again until later in the week or the weekend.

Talk to you soon!


Friday, September 15, 2006

"Give 'Em What They Want"?

My first week back to school. Hectic, frantic, chaotic… I'm trying to hold down 2 part time jobs while schooling full time. You know how it is, you must all have been in my shoes one time or another. I guess this is my way of letting you know why I neglected blogging. But no worries, Connie will be back imminently.

Meanwhile, on the home front:

One of the courses I'm taking this semester is Collection Development. Basically, how to build and manage your library's collections. First day in class, the professor introduced a popular concept among the public libraries: "Give 'Em What They Want", also known as the Consumers-Driven Library.

At first glance, it makes great sense. If you give the public what it wants, then your library's circulation will increase, in turns will improve your library's performance, and ultimately will help to secure your next budget. In addition, studies have shown that variances of clients' interest among the library's branches are minimal. What the public wants often coincides with the recommended lists provided by the vendors. Why waste time, money, and effort to survey clients' interests, evaluate and select the individual books when your library can optimize its efficiency and effectiveness by simply checking off the 20 items on the list that your vendors have already prepared for you. Ready for automated shipping with all sorts of discounts. You save money, the public gets what it wants, and you get your budget approved at the end of the year. Win-win situation. Or is it?

The thorny issue of this concept, our professor argued, is that it assumes the public knows what it wants. Unlike special [legal] libraries, where our clients are professionals/experts in their fields: they [should] know what they want. The general public, on the other hand, gets its information from the various sources such as the bestseller lists [published by the vendors, surpise, surpise] or media hypes [undoubtedly created by the vendors], when it should have relied on independent and professional sources such as libraries/librarians. In the end, consumers-driven library really means vendors-driven library.

Do we future librarians want to make a difference? Do we want to "Give 'Em What They Need" instead of "Give 'Em What the Vendors Sell"? Do we want to go against the current practice, don't give them what they want, watch our circulation dwindle, and hope for the best?

Who says librarianship is boring?

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I think an introduction is in order. My name is Anh Huynh, just completing my first year at Faculty of Information Studies (FIS) at University of Toronto. I was one of the lucky candidates who was selected for a summer job under the nurturing wings (yes, I believe that she can fly, if she wanted too) of Connie Crosby, aka The Information Diva.

I’m not supposed to talk about my job, so I can’t tell you about the wonderful projects that she got me to work on the last four months. But I can tell you this: it was a lot more than shelving books, filing loose-leafs, and the occasional reference services that most of my classmates were experiencing at other law firms. Lucky me. And kudos to Connie for having such wide interests in every aspects of legal librarianships and the confidence to delegate and let me roam free, learning and flexing my brain muscles, absorbing new information like a skinny synapse on steroid.

Some of you may agree with me that legal librarianship wasn’t your first choice –as I found out from talking with many legal librarians that I met at various TALL gatherings that Connie brought me with her. It wasn’t mine either, until I took a Legal Literature and Librarianship course last semester at the U of T with John Papadopoulos. Let the truth be known that I took it because it was the only course that fitted my schedule!

John was a wonderful instructor. His lectures were full of funny, interesting, yet informative anecdotes. The course was well organised with challenging and practical assignments. Everything that I learned in class was well used in the four months that I worked under Connie. Our classmates varied widely, from students with “tight” schedule like myself to working professionals such as lawyers and reference librarians who came back for professional development. In our last class, John invited five legal librarians with wide range of experience from various law firms to form a panel for a two-hour of “honest discussions”. Not to mention the Pizzas that John ordered, students’ main (or only) sustenance. Can’t get a better class than that.

I guess the moral of my story is: don’t know till you try. Life is full of surprises, legal librarianship isn’t as bad as one might think until you stumble on someone like John or Connie.