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Archive for January, 2013

This professional development post will reflect on what I have achieved in the first 6 months of my first professional role.

Settling in and making myself known:

Well, I like to think I have settled in to the Library team very well.

Gingerbread Pudseys

I have tried to make myself a little more well known in the firm; by volunteering to represent the department in a Marketing photography session (you can imagine everyone was very relieved I volunteered as librarians tend to be a very humble bunch), I have attended Corporate and Banking departmental meetings, and most of all I think by winning the Trowers bake-off in aid of Children In Need… my gingerbread appears to be famous and it’s amazing the number of people who now know me and stop to talk to me about baking! Every little bit of marketing helps, and of course by making myself known I am also reminding people of the library and information service available to them.

Projects:

Quite soon after I began at Trowers I was set 2 projects by my manager. The first was to go through a backlog of Construction know how and internal Trowers publications and profile them all. Although I have made a lot of headway on this I have not yet finished it, but am aiming to finish by Easter.

The second project was to go through each of the 80 journals we subscribe to, and look at the options for going online or subscribing to the digital issue, the price differences and the licensing to circulate and share any digital content. This was a mammoth task that resulted in the creation of a huge spread sheet detailing all of the information for each journal. This project greatly helped me to familiarise myself with our journal holdings and the options available to us for each journal. On completing the spreadsheet containing information on all 80+ journals, I then proceeded to create a personalised spread sheet for each department listing the journals and number of print copies they subscribe to, those on the circulation lists, and their overall options for going digital.

MoneybankI have since been liaising with PSLs and partners of various departments to go through the spread sheets with them and review what they should do next. As a result we have so far made over £3,000 in savings, and there is still plenty more to be made. I think this is the greatest achievement of my first 6 months, as this whole process has taken a lot of time and effort on my part, as well as diplomatically presenting this to departments in a positive way as a way of circulating information more quickly and efficiently, rather than as a cost cutting process. I have also had to be very careful in trying to appease those who still wish to see the print copy and those who wish to go fully digital, and so far I think it has been a success. This is a project that is going to continue for a fairly long time, but I feel that by saving the firm money I have demonstrated my worth and feel that I have really helped the firm in addition to my day-to-day duties.

SLA role:

In November I was invited to become the blog editor for SLA Europe and consequently a member of the SLA Board and Digital Communications Committee. This is something I am very proud of, as I am sure the quality of my personal blog and my obvious enthusiasm at the SLA annual conference in Chicago last summer played a large part in securing my invitation to the role. I have so far enjoyed attending the board and committee meetings, but I feel that I have a huge amount to learn about how an association is run, particularly as SLA Europe is only a part (or chapter) of the Special Libraries Association, which is currently the world’s leading association for information professionals and special librarians, with over 11,000 professionals around the world. As the blog editor, the most important part of my role is sourcing posts, and I have met a lot of amazing and interesting people (albeit mostly by email), and am getting to know SLA members much more and expand my network even further; which is very useful to me as a new professional and particularly as I am still fairly new to the SLA. Continuing to work for the SLA is something I am very much looking forward to, and I am sure it will provide me with a wealth of experience and will aid my professional development immensely.

SLA Europe

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I feel like I need to warn readers again that this series of professional development posts are for my own personal benefit, to motivate me to reflect specifically on what I have learnt in the first 6 months of my first professional role. They are certainly not entertaining, but may provide an insight in to the role of a new professional in a corporate law firm. This particular post will reflect on what I have learned in the first 6 months of my first professional role.

What have I learned on the Enquiry Desk?

The most useful skills knowledge I have learnt is how to use a number of legal databases; such as Westlaw, Lexis Library, PLC and Lawtel. I have also learnt that it is not so important to already have all of the answers, as to know where to look for them and effective ways of searching for information.

Enquiry DeskI have also become familiar with which documents are needed for anti-money laundering purposes as well as how to locate them for companies inside and outside of the UK. There are a number of tasks which I never imagined I would ever be asked to do, from ordering death certificates to finding the contact details for a Baroness. There are of course a number of things I expected to do that I have now learnt how to do, such as how to conduct a press search and effectively search for cases or legislation. However, despite now having 6 months experience and spend half my working week on the Enquiry Desk, this is also the area I feel I have the most still to learn from, and have been told it will be a matter of years before I become fully confident on the Enquiry Desk.

What have I learnt about journals?

I have developed and added to my knowledge on journal publishing and administration with my current role. I now know the ins and outs of processing invoices, asking partners for authorisation of renewals and cancellations (and how frustrating it can be when they refuse to get back to you), checking licenses and copyright permissions with publishers, and dealing with publishers and agents among many other things.

Books

What have I learnt about book cataloguing?

I have put all I had learnt on my MA regarding cataloguing into practice when cataloguing books. I should clarify that I only catalogue books where we have previous editions, and therefore do not catalogue new books from scratch. Even so, I understand the necessity for precision and attention to detail when cataloguing any changes the new editions have and I really enjoy this aspect of my role.

What have I learnt about know how?

Know how was a term that was never ever explained to me – I suppose it was assumed that I would know what it is. So from profiling know how and precedents for our intranet, I can now tell you that know how can consist of a variation of documents – from client bibles, to journal articles, to Government guidance, to training documents, to template documents covering all sorts of subjects. It is basically any information that may at some point prove useful to another in your organisation, who may be aiding a client on the same topic and may need some expertise on the subject, or may need to create a similar type of document, etc.

Know how

From profiling know how and precedents,I have actually learnt a reasonable amount about what the Banking & Finance and Corporate as departments actually do, which you will probably not be surprised to hear was very mysterious to me 6 months ago!

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This professional development post will explore the extent to which my previous work experience and library qualification prepared me for my first professional role.

How has my graduate traineeship at Norton Rose prepared me for a corporate legal librarian position?

 Firstly, I should mention that having 1 year’s experience in a law firm was an essential criterion that qualified me to apply for my current role. My traineeship provided me with this, and it also gave me an understanding of lawyers as library users, the resources they used (in fact I became too familiar with updating their loose-leafs!) and a basic understanding of how an information team in a corporate environment can operate.

More specifically, the circulation of journals was the biggest part of my role as a graduate trainee for Norton Rose, and I was very lucky to have this experience to draw upon when applying for an Information Officer role that was responsible for journals. I hadn’t realised how much I had learnt from my traineeship until I came to apply it in my job – I was already familiar with the majority of journal titles we subscribed to and I was aware of their publishing patterns and the process for claiming missing issues. Since beginning my new role I have developed on this foundational knowledge and learnt about the financial side of journals, dealing with agents, and administering invoices as well as reviewing journal usage and advising on renewing or cancelling titles.

During my graduate traineeship I received training sessions on the UK legal system, on EU law and how to prepare company information packs. This gave me a taster for what I would be researching on the Enquiry Desk, although admittedly I had forgotten much of it by the time I had studied my MA and began at Trowers.

I suppose the most important thing I learned from my traineeship was that I wanted to work in the library and information profession, and that I enjoyed working in a corporate legal environment. When applying for the traineeship I had no idea what area I wanted to go in to, and I thank my lucky stars that I was accepted by Norton Rose, as I didn’t realise how relatively rare it was to have experience in the legal sector, and how necessary experience is when looking for professional roles.

How has my Masters in Library and Information Studies from UCL prepared me?

When I completed my course, I still felt very much like I would have no idea what to do once I got a job. The UCL course is very academic and although I found the modules enjoyable I worried that they wouldn’t help me in the practical aspects of a professional role. On speaking with my friends on the course we all felt the same way, and when going for job interviews I almost felt like a fraud as I didn’t feel prepared for becoming a fully qualified information professional.

UCL logo

However, after a few weeks of settling in to my role and learning a variety of aspects of the job; from the treasured and highly guarded secret of where the stapler lived, to the more complex process of how to use the LMS, I started to realise how the knowledge I had learned on my MA was underlying everything I was doing (except for maybe locating the stapler). When profiling precedents and know how collections on the intranet I use a taxonomy to index them, and I wouldn’t have even heard of a taxonomy before my MA, let alone understand classification and cataloguing.

There are numerous examples I could cite here, but I think more than anything my Masters has provided me with an informed way of thinking. Continuing on my last example, when profiling a know how document I think to myself, “how may users try to find this document?”. They may search for keywords or the title in our Google style search box, so I know I must include these terms in the profile to make it searchable in this way. They may browse for it using the index and may browse by department, by author, by subject, etc. and so I make sure I cover all of these bases when creating a profile. This is only one example and you may think this is common sense, but looking back I can see how useful my cataloguing and classification modules were to me.

How has other work experience/SLA helped me?

I think winning the SLA Early Career Conference Award certainly helped my application stand out in securing my job, as it demonstrated my active interest in the profession. The annual conference in Chicago opened my eyes to the size of the international library community, taught me a lot regarding the purpose, work and benefits of a professional association, and the differences and similarities between British and American law firms (the US legal librarians were very jealous of the fact that in the UK we tend to be called “Information Officers”).

SLA Europe

I have recently become quite heavily involved with SLA Europe as a board member and their blog editor, and I am sure the experience I will gain from this will benefit me greatly in my role and aid my professional development.

I attend many of the sessions SLA Europe organise, and find that these provide very useful practical guidance both in the content of the sessions and through the networking opportunities that follow afterwards, in discussing how others in similar situations have approached certain issues. For example, I was able to report back to my manager on how Addleshaw Goddard handle social media and Twitter in particular (a hot topic in my library), and the success of Fieldfisher Waterhouse in releasing their wiki, when we are currently producing a wiki ourselves with the hope of launching very soon. Participating and attending SLA events certainly helps with my professional development, but I also feel that as a new employee the knowledge I gain helps me to really contribute and potentially improve the services we provide, and enables me to demonstrate my worth as a new and enthusiastic new professional.

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