Replacing the Irreplaceable – Farewell Ted Tjaden


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


3 Responses to “Replacing the Irreplaceable – Farewell Ted Tjaden”

  1. 1 Karen Sawatzky

    I co-chaired the CALL Knowledge Management Special Interest Group withTed – well, he called me the co-chair, I thought of myself as the assistant chair. His enthusiasm is contagious – I can only imagine what an inspiration it was to work with him on a regular basis. He will be sorely missed.

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Ted, Brenda.

    Ted has been a smart, generous leader in our legal research, library, knowledge management world. I use his writing and thinking frequently in my own writing and teaching. For me personally he has shared his insights, and in many ways kept me in the loop of thinking and changes in Canadian law firms. I will miss that.

  3. “Thanks Brenda, you have put it so well. So true, Ted is irreplaceable!!! Like you said, he has inspired & helped so many librarians over the years, he is a great soul!!! I know, I was a fan of him from Australia.
    Everyday, I thank him for creating Custom Google Search of Canadian Law Firms, Blogs and Journal Websites!!! All the Best Ted Tjaden!!!!” I share your views, Brenda.

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