What do I do?


What got me started on this post was this article from INALJ (I need a library job) called 5 Things That People Don’t Realize Their Librarians Do.

This is my year for public speaking. I’m sitting on a panel of library technicians at the 2014 Manitoba Libraries Conference called “What can you do with a Library Technician Diploma?” There are five other panelists for a 75 minute session, so I don’t have a lot of time. I’ve been thinking about how I can best describe what I do and how what I learned through my library technician diploma made the difference to performing this job.

When I think about what I do, I realize that the most important part of my job is building relationships. I connect with my lawyers to reinforce how I can help them, I network with my colleagues at other law libraries to support me when I don’t know what to do or where to start, and I connect with legal publishing vendors to ensure I get the best resources for my firm for the best price. Of course I also do the “library” stuff too, like reviewing and entering data into the library catalogue, making sure invoices are paid, suggesting which resources to use, training on database use, and performing legal research.

I’ve tried to get my role down to one line: I help my lawyers win cases for their clients, and help them find new clients. I’ll be spending the next couple of weeks figuring out how to put that all together into a 5-10 minute presentation that’s both educational and entertaining.

Wish me luck!

~ Karen


Raise a Reader


I know two toddlers that could not be more different. Rick’s mom is not a reader and finds “mom and tot” programs boring at the library. When I play with him, he is engaged but he doesn’t verbalize a lot. Things don’t bode well for his language development.  The other baby is Marie, who is developmentally about average. She can say “Bye. See you.” If you pull out a book, she is all over it and wants to sit for a reading.

So many people underestimate the early engagement of developing readers. There are great ideas in the link about How to Raise a Reader. Personally we always read in the family as I grew up. I also went regularly to the public library as a child. My uncle also bought me a book focusing on science and ramps. I learned a whole world was waiting for me inside a small  book. Let’s hope that little Rick has the same chance to discover of other worlds.

– Brenda

There has been some dramatic changes in our lives lately. We moved from a busy urban environment to life in a small town in Saskatchewan. In the mean time, I was at a crossroads wondering if my career would be more in social media or in libraries. It looks the the tug of libraries won, as I am the new librarian at the local school.

What made me stand out was my experience with social media tools, like Twitter and this blog. I also felt confident about speaking and communicating with people as I had come back from giving a presentation on law libraries at Ontario Library Conference. I will be doing everything from managing the library’s web site to promoting digital literacy to kids in middle school. The common threads are organizing information and teaching skills to evaluate information. I thought a lot about my transferable experience and ways to demonstrate how I was a good fit. As always, marketing the library and reaching out to kids, teachers and other clients will form an important part of both relationship building and promoting the library itself.

If you are looking for a library career, I found great resources at both Library Career People and INALJ or I Need a Library Job.

– Brenda

That was the title of the presentation Brenda and I did at the Ontario Library Association’s 2014 Superconference. Dana Schwarz, of the Ontario Association of Library Technicians kindly invited us to appear way back in June 2013 (they really plan a long time in advance!). At the time, Brenda was still living in Toronto and working at McMillan LLP, but by the time the conference came around she had moved to rural Saskatchewan! However, thanks to technology, we co-ordinated our work, although we didn’t actually practice together until arriving in Toronto the day before the conference.

This conference is aimed at public library and school library staff, so we based our presentation on providing information for those wishing to transition to a law library. We outlined the skills needed, the opportunities available, and described some of the situations we’ve run in to personally. I’ve attached the paper we wrote, which gives all the facts (but has none of the personality) of our talk.

What I liked most about doing this was how comfortable it was. When you know your topic as intimately as I do this one, it’s very easy to do. It was like having a conversation with some friends, talking about my job, with no interruptions ;)

I’ll be appearing at another conference later this spring, the Manitoba Libraries Conference. I’m on a panel with several other library technicians talking about “what you can do with a library technician diploma”. Eventually, I’m going to have to learn to talk about something else!

~ Karen

Hidden World of Law Libraries – Paper

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


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