It’s not about the books!


When I tell people I’m a law librarian at a law firm, I usually get one of two responses. “Oh, I love books!” or reading or something along those lines. Or, “What does a librarian do at a law firm?” I try not to roll my eyes if the speaker is standing right in front of me, and then I go into my spiel about all the things I do, finishing off with “and of course, I put the books back on the shelf, too”.

But the other day, I was in a melancholy mood, wondering why my lawyers weren’t including me in more discussions, especially those that had to do with the organization of information, and I thought, “Maybe, they don’t really know what I do, either”. So I started thinking about what Mary Ellen Bates says. Mary Ellen is an info pro consultant. Whenever I’m at a conference where she’s speaking, I make sure I attend at least one of her sessions. She challenges her audience to come up with one sentence that describes what you do, in language the “C” suite (CEO, COO, CIO, etc.) understands. She gives the example of “I help you make better business decisions”.

Right now, our articling students are my main focus, so I came up with: “I help you write better memos.” If I say that to them half a dozen times, they might even come to believe it. 🙂

~ Karen


2 Responses to “It’s not about the books!”

  1. 1 Sarah

    I like the one-sentence response idea. The explanation I’ve been using for a few months now has been: “I teach, facilitate, and perform legal research for lawyers, students, and support staff.”

  2. 2 Brenda W.

    Thanks Sarah as your “tag line” is concise and informative…no pun intended.

    Here is Mary Ellen Bates’ tweet from a few days ago: Forget elevator speech; u need escalator chat. Not captive audience – they can start climbing the stairs. Make it a conversation. I thought it was highly relevant, as it is an ongoing conversation with the C suite. And the danger of the C suiters forgetting about the librarian in the “climbing the stairs” analogy.

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