It is predicted that by 2015, the supply of colour film for movies will be depleted. For a lot of people this won’t be a game changer as digital photography and movies have been with us for awhile. As late as 2009 I was still using a film camera. For the average person, digital photographs trump the “analog” film. But does it really?

I asked myself this as I was organizing some photographs of family members. I can see 8 year old Olivia progress from baby to skinny girl, but her younger brother Jimmy only exists as pixels within a digital frame. Photographer Robert Burley has mused on the death of film in his book, “The Disappearance of Darkness: Photography at the End of the Analog Era.” I am old enough to recall collections and scrapbooks of the physical object of pictures, and Burley said that they “age along with us.” By going digital and storing pictures in the cloud we gained convenience and permanent storage, but we lost artifacts. We also no longer trust photographs as a true representation of reality, as manipulating digital images is considered common place. The pervasiveness of digital photograph has served to also undermine our connection to them. They are no longer special, when anyone can snap selfies. It is great that the technical capacity exists for anyone to be an Ansel Adams. But eons from now, I wonder how archivists will theorize the place of print photographs in media. They might be considered the Egyptian scrolls of our time.

Something to think about as I go off to print off some pictures for Great Aunt, who still believes in the object of photographs.

- Brenda

Inspired by book on film photography’s demise

Long but worthwhile on near death  of 35 mm film


Ah, the end of the year, and it’s time to nominate my favourite law blogs for a Clawbie. But before I do, a few musings on the writing form of blogging. Has it become passé? I know I have posted much less this year than normal years, fearing I have nothing left to say. And yet others, like Erik Magraken, continue to put out worthwhile content including adding new media like video.

Well, I still read blogs even if I don’t write. What’s recently come to my attention is Marie Grace Cannon’s blog. While not specifically legal, it is described as “a personal blog by a new professional in the legal library and information world”. It’s also based in the U.K., so when she blogs about conferences, such as the BIALL conference, I get a perspective and information I wouldn’t get here.

Another one of my favourites, and a runner-up last year, is On Firmer Ground, a collaboration of authors from a global cornucopia of law library associations. Every post leaves me thinking either “I should do that too”, or “that’s really valuable to know”.

While not a blog per se (ooh, I just had to throw in a legal term), I’d also like to nominate Eugene Meehan’s Supreme Advocacy e-Newsletter. I look forward to receiving this every Thursday. With superb commentary on the latest SCC decisions (with the occasional Eugene witticism thrown in to make sure we’re really reading it all) and the folksy charm of “The Last Word”, it makes for a “must-read” Thursday morning.

This has to be the first time I’ve actually got this out on time. Usually I see the announcement for nominations, think “I’ve got to write something about that”, and then wait until the day after nominations close to get mine in. Well, it’s never too late to change! Thanks to all those who continue to write content that I am happy to read, and keep me up to date on the latest legal information.

~ Karen


I am a digital teenager of sorts. I have had too many email accounts and remember Netscape. So John Gregory’s summary of Internet Voting Revisited resonated with me on a few levels. My knee jerk reaction was internet is good and democracy is good, so combine both and I am supporting internet voting right? Not so easy as I delved into it. Voting is an an anonymous transaction at one level after validating one’s identity. It is a different transaction than buying something as e-commerce transaction. This article highlights some internet voting issues. Also there have been some Canadian municipalities experimenting with internet voting with mixed results. Dean Smith of an electronic voting system company said flatly that he expected 5% voter turnout for an election. That is hardly an encouraging number given the cost and resources put into such a project. Maybe in the future there will be technological breakthroughs that will make internet voting a reality.

- Brenda


A few weeks ago I was thinking about how professional associations can boost their membership. Admittedly there is a natural attrition rate, and people also have higher expectations wanting their associations to demonstrate value. Thought leader Gwynne Monahan said that often times the associations engage in push marketing with members as the group pushes out information but does not truly engage with their members. All this fed into my own exploration of social media as communications channels for organizations. If your group is not on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, why not? People across all ages and demographics expect a social presence now. By staying on the sidelines, the conversations are happening without XYZ company and it might hurt the bottom line, stir up and spread misinformation, or make recruiting staff a more difficult task.

Getting back to professional associations, I join them for their networking and educational opportunities to keep me informed in my industry. For starters, organizers with associations can mine Melissa Harrison’s post on “The state of social media in associations and what to do about it”  for some ways to revitalize a group with social media. Networking is probably a top reason for members joining so groups need to ramp up their efforts. It can be as easy as recognizing and congratulating members on work well done. Also if the group is already involved in good causes in the greater community, then publicizing those service projects as a way to promote good causes as well as build membership cohesion.

Now more than ever the world is shrinking, but at the same time people need to feel a sense of engaging in a community, or a conversation on what their peers are doing. Thanks to Gwynne Monahan @econwriter5 and @ABABarServices for the inspiration.

- Brenda


Admittedly public legal education is a unknown territory for me as I worked in a law firm library. But being an information person, all areas that touch upon law interest me. Lois Gander of  the Centre for Public Legal Education in Alberta describes it as:

Deeply rooted in the access to justice movement in Canada, public legal education plays a critical role in ensuring that our laws and legal processes serve the needs of everyone, not just a privileged few.

There is both an advocacy role for marginalized groups, as well as the aspect of dissemination of information to the lay person in order to navigate the legal system. The law affects us from birth to death, and hopefully you and I will always be on the right side of it. When I was born, my birth was registered with provincial Vital Statistics department as per the law. Then my parents got a birth certificate. But my mom does not have such a document as she was born in a different country with different laws. And there are many other mundane examples from there.

A shout out to Shaunna Mireau for connecting with the Centre for Public Legal Education in Alberta, and there is a current job posting for the Executive Director. In Saskatchewan, there are some general resources and teaching resources for elementary and high school students.

Just recently I talked about different landlord tenant situation in different provinces casually with a friend. My sense is that this is a huge and growing area as people come into conflict or just need help navigating the system. As an optimist, I wish the new Director in Alberta the best of luck. New beginnings are an exciting adventure.

- Brenda


Some time ago I read this article, “How Reframing a Problem Unlocks Innovation“, an adapted excerpt written by Tina Seelig from her book, InGenius  (HarperOne). I was struck by how relevant it was to libraries, and well, everything.

I’m always looking at ways to “reframe a problem”. I like the way she phrases that

Mastering the ability to reframe problems is an important tool for increasing your imagination.

I tend to think that I have no imagination, but it’s lurking there, underneath my fear of failure. Thinking of  situations from the point of view of the other person is invaluable in getting to a solution. Getting outside your comfort zone is another way to achieve this.

One of the first steps in creating a marketing plan is to think about who you are trying to reach. What type of language do you want to use, what form of media? All of these depend on who your target market is. Working in a law library my clients are intelligent, but time challenged. They want to know right off the bat how something is going to help them do their work more efficiently. My job is to help them reframe from thinking that training is a waste of time into thinking that if they spend a half hour now, they’ll save a half hour every day.

How are you reframing the problem in your life or work?

- Karen


This month Ted Tjaden is leaving our library team. He is the National Director but he is so much more. He has inspired and mentored many librarians. His door is always open to talk about knowledge management or library trends to others.

My first experience with Ted was by reputation, when he was promoting his legal research book in Victoria in the 1990s. I was new to law libraries and the microcosm of law firms as well. A lot has changed since then but passion, enthusiasm, insight that Ted shares generously with others is still constant.

Ted was a practicing lawyer and a crackerjack legal researcher. He set a service standard at McMillan. He makes research fun and sometimes it’s a bit of a treasure hunt. He has faith that you can push yourself a bit harder and find that obscure article. You learn and grow as a result. You learn that pushing boundaries is scary, exciting, thrilling and  you come out on the other side with new skills and strengths.

Also at this time I asked Ted to look back at highlights of how legal information and law libraries has changed in the past 6 years. Increasingly he sees an integrated approach with knowledge management, library research, records management,  and e-discovery. It makes sense for a unified and coordinated approach in a large company, as it is all internal and external information that funnels into legal solutions. This umbrella approach may be known as information governance.

There has been an ongoing debate about achieving a balance between print and digital resources in legal information. In legal information industry, the huge changes expected have been slow in coming compared to other subject areas. At this stage there is not overwhelming adoption of digital resources, as pricing models have been slow to develop as attractive options. It would be interesting to take stock in another 5 years to see, if the balance between print and digital has shifted.

Another ongoing theme is the speed of technological change is fast,  and likely even accelerated with new devices like iPads, tablets and smartphones. Technology change has led to higher expectations for service. The volumes of email has grown exponentially with professionals having challenges in storing, managing and retrieving emails. Thinking about how this change affects us broadly Ted recommended a book about how artificial intelligence will affect people in the future with Kurzwell’s book called The Singularity is Near. I brought up Present Shock by Rushkoff and how it is hopeful that we can unwind our digital lives to enjoy the present moment.

Lastly free legal information is improving as  there is a growing open access to legal information movement. CanLII is moving beyond statutes and caselaw into commentary with ebooks. Continuing legal education seminars are a gold mine of current information for researchers. In Ontario Access CLE has opened up free access to articles 18 months and older. These are Canadian examples, but there are American groups in the open legal information movement tools like The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction.

Ultimately change is good as we both expand our abilities and our business opportunities. On a more personal level, it is hard to imagine that Ted and his incredible energy will not be around. We wish him the best in the next phase of his life.

- Brenda Wong



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