Archives for category: Law librarianship

I’ve been a month and a week at my new place of employ, and I couldn’t be any happier about it. Even if you discount the free coffee, free breakfast on Fridays, swanky cubicle…

Could that be a picture of Jo and I at Medieval Times? I think it is!

 

My new ZZ Plant is thriving–IKEA’s finest

 

… charming coworkers, and exceptional boss, the actual work is fantastic. As much as I love making up yet another answer to “how many laws are there” on a Saturday afternoon, there is a certain jolt of energy that comes with answering an urgent matter from a partner, then seeing the results of your work in an important brief, or as part of a big pitch. The relevance is very rewarding. (This is, of course, not to say that the volume of laws is an irrelevant metric, but it certainly lacks immediate relevancy–and I’m shallow enough to prefer instant gratification.) I also love how often, and on what a high level, I’m able to use what I spent 3 years and boatloads of cash learning in law school. Everything’s coming together.

Why didn’t I do this sooner? I have no idea. I’ve had this conversation with another LC expat who has since moved into PLL, and we both agree that this is amazing, and we should never have been resistant to the idea of BigLaw.

Now what I need to do is work on balancing professional development, participating in association stuff,¬†and writing with being a BigLaw librarian. My days are unpredictable, and therefore¬†hard to schedule around. Still, I think I’m getting a better feel for the patterns of work. I feel like I’ll be able to carve out more personal professional time once I have a better understanding of the right time to make for all of that.

Other PLLs–how are you balancing this somewhat unpredictable work flow with your professional development?

 

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Greetings from a Starbucks at Metro Center. In about 20 minutes, I will start my new job as a private law librarian. New job, new environment, but fewer blog posts. I’ll still be updating, ideally once a week, but I couldn’t even finish the theme from last week, and I wasn’t working yet. Thanks for sticking with me these last two months!

Did you miss me, dear readers? I missed you while I went on two back-to-back academic law library interviews in the Midwest. My Hillary-in-the-90s skirt suit and I bravely endured all day grillings, meet and greets, and gave two presentations–but alas, we did not prevail.

Hillary Red, by Meg

I have only a couple pieces of totally superficial advice re: academic interviewing, which you should take with a grain of salt as I haven’t successfully obtained an academic job from one of these interviews:

  • Don’t fear your red suit. Maybe it’s a DC thing, but it is a totally acceptable color choice, and I got lots of compliments, including one, “Oh thank goodness you’re not in a black suit.”
  • Wear flats, even if you wear heels often (like me). No one else wears heels, and it worries people when any sort of walking is involved, even if you’re fine.
  • Wear a blouse that you’re not ashamed to be seen in without your jacket. You’ll be eating lunch with folks, and it’s not a terrible idea to take your jacket off, lest you be stained for the rest of the interview if you eat like me.

Now, I am pleased to say that I will be starting work on Monday in the DC library of Latham & Watkins, a law firm on which the sun never sets. They have offices, like, everywhere. I’ve met all the staff a couple of times, everyone is super nice, and I’m excited to be getting into something a little different: private law librarianship.

When I start next Monday, my unemployment will have lasted a grand total of 61 days. Thanks to everyone who has been supportive of me, my job search, and my ample free time!

So, you and your library are not on Twitter. Big deal, right? Professional sporting events, political debates, award shows and cable news are pre-hashtagged, but what does it mean for you? If you’re feeling left out, and want to get into Twitter, I’m going to propose a two and half pronged attack:

The Institutional Account

The odds that you’re already producing the stuff you need to populate an institutional Twitter account are high: new LibGuides, new acquisitions, changes to your regular hours, programs, Ask A Lib services, etc. Twitter is just a free way to publicize what you already do. Before you sign up, consider:

  • Setting some policies about who will tweet, how often, and in what style to give your account consistency, and legitimacy
  • Setting a few more policies about how and when to respond to retweets, favorites, and mentions, favorable and unfavorable
  • How to incorporate your Twitter background page, icon and shortened links into the greater branding of your institution (if you’re not a stand alone kind of place, i.e. law schools that are part of larger universities)
  • Will this be fun for you? If no one on staff is going to enjoy tweeting, the product won’t show your best side. Twitter is a great way to humanize an institution, show that it’s made of individual voices that make one–but if you’re not feeling it, your Twitter voice will show it.

The Personal Professional Account

Networking, attending conferences, attending conferences that you’re not even in the same time zone as: let Twitter solve it for you! If you’ve ever felt like you’re missing out on what’s going on in the library world, or like your professional development budget is $5, Twitter can be a great way to get out there, without getting out there. In my own life, I call it “using the Internet to trick people into thinking I’m important.” And I have to say, reader, you’re here, aren’t you? For your personal professional account:

  • Consider making the icon an actual picture of you, or at least cartoon you. This is your brand!
  • Keep your tweets related to your professional life. This is your chance to promote your work, your institution, your ideas, but not your cat, or your dinner, or your shoes. Ok, a little bit of that from time to time is nice to show you’re not a library robot, but keep it pro.
  • Use your personal professional account to follow the hashtags of conferences you’re not at (because who can afford them all), but also conferences you are at. It makes the entire experience richer.
  • A little shameless self promotion won’t hurt you. Did you write a new Lib Guide for your library? Get it out there! It’s good for you, it’s good for your institution, and it’s good for someone who maybe wouldn’t have found the information without Twitter.
  • Above all, don’t make your Twitter feed a moment by moment account of your day, because it’s boring. Take this advice from Garance and ask yourself whether your tweet is relevant before you post it.

The Solely Personal Account

It can be a little fragmenting, I suppose, but so many things in life are more fun with Twitter. Find your friends at baseball games, follow food trucks, rave (or rant with caution) about new restaurants, share pictures of your animals. Don’t forget:

  • Be careful about turning locations on–I hear there are bad people on the interwebz.
  • If you’re taking a picture of, say, a playbook in your lap, be sure you’re wearing pants (I’m looking at you Chris Cooley, former Redskin).
  • Don’t forget your #natitude

#natitude by Meg & the rest of Natstown

If you’ve skimmed all this and still don’t think Twitter is for you, don’t forget that you can read people’s open pages without actually joining. Let’s do this again for Facebook a little later on!

“Where have you been” is one of those loaded questions that can mean, “Where have you been, I have been waiting for you for hours,” or “Where have you been all my life?” The reasons you aren’t there can be just as varied. This week, we’re going to talk about getting back into the swing of things, professionally, when you’ve been out of the loop. We’ll talk about getting involved in social media, getting involved in a professional association, starting a new program at your library, and we might even discuss my two week hiatus from Lulu.

A sullen faced, “Where have you been, I’M STARVING” Neko, by Meg

Hello, dear readers!

Much like when I abandoned you on my vacation to Florida last month, I will be out of pocket this week, and the beginning of next. I have some terribly important professional stuff happening, and I’ll be more than happy to talk about it once it’s all over–but not now. I hope you’re all having a fabulous week!

Best, Meg

by Meg, at the Union League Club of Chicago

A Christmas present from my parents a few years ago, this charming edition is always in my purse–and has been transferred to more than one clutch for special occasions.

Also a Christmas present, this one is much thinner, and tends to live on a shelf at home for ready reference. It has a snazzy red and white striped verso, quite stylish.

I have two of these, actually. They’re from Colonial Williamsburg, and include both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I personally think the Articles of Confederation would have been appropriate for a CW reproduction, but I still love this edition. It used to live in my backpack at school.

I was a librarian before I was a law student, and was very wary of taking vendor swag while I was at school. I took this pocket edition from Lexis (with a handy guide to legislative history…using Lexis in the front), and used it throughout law school. Want to know what doesn’t impress law professors one bit? Having a pocket Constitution.

This is my most recent acquisition from donating to the ACLU. I love this one because it’s absolutely to the point: no intro, just the Constitution. It’s a pleasing size, and it includes the signers’ names and states.

 

 

 

 

Let’s say your legislative history has taken you back to the definition of one lousy word. I love usage citations in dictionary definitions, but they’re almost always spelled out with terrible abbreviations. Here’s “common law” from the latest multi-volume OED:

This one isn’t bad, but a Bouvier’s 1st, a Black’s 1st, will talk about little known, often name-based reporter using irritating little codes that haven’t meant anything to anyone for centuries. Here are some resources to help you decipher odd ball citations:

  • Bieber’s: All citations, all the time, Bieber will let you search by abbreviation and then get a full title. You can also look up a title and get an abbreviation, but in the U.S. we tend to prefer…
  • The Bluebook: When I know what jurisdiction I’m dealing with, I like the back tables of the Bluebook that list most reporters and major periodicals for most jurisdictions. Plus, you can get the super-official citation for American brief writing.
  • Materials and Methods of Legal Research by Frederick Hicks: This is not the only publication of it’s kind, but I love it so much that I bought my own, just in case any future place of employ didn’t have it. The main work is nice, but the appendices are invaluable: state by state list of reporters (with years), list of Anglo-American legal periodicals, complete list of English and British law reports… I could go on, but check this out for yourself. Legal research guides from times past are great because they will include resources that have fallen out of favor now, but were popular and heavily cited in the past.
  • Pimsleur’s Checklists of Basic American Legal Publications: Another option for an exhaustive list of things that were once popular (especially state by state) and now aren’t is something like Pimsleur’s. If you have a time period and a jurisdiction, these lists should help you narrow things down. The AALL State Documents Bibliography is kind of similar for states only, but has a definite gov docs focus.
  • Local chapter guides to legislative history: My local, LLSDC, has a guide to federal legislative sources because we’re in DC. But, if you’ve got a New York issue, try LLAGNY, and so forth.
  • If all else fails, just Google the entire citation. It’s amazing how many times that gets you somewhere. Oh, Internet.

I hope one of more of these sources can get you where you need to be, cite wise. There’s no real science here–just keep working at it!

What’s your go-to wonky citation solver?

Everything I know about telling stories, I learned from public radio. Everything I know about listening to stories, I learned from being a child. To that end, some wisdom from experts in radio, and experts in children’s stories.

Radio:

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Children’s stories:

  • Woutrina Bone tells us in her 1923 book Children’s Stories and How to Tell Them that “two things are necessary in order to make pictures with words… 1. We must be able to visualize them for ourselves. 2. We must have such a mastery over words, that we can use them to enable others to see.” Legislative storytelling is the perfect time to write a narrative that won’t lose the reader in under five minutes.
  • Sara Cone Bryant, in How to Tell Stories to Children, says that “the most cultured of audiences will listen to the personal reminiscences of an explorer with a different tingle of interest from that which it feels for a scientific lecture on the results of the exploration. The longing for the personal in experience is a very human longing.” A legislative story with interviews, personal statements, advertisements that people would have watched in their living rooms will tell a much more compelling tale than a recitation of parliamentary steps. Both have their place, but both have their value as well.
  • From Laura S. Emerson’s Storytelling: The Art and Purpose, don’t forget about the classic structure of a story. Remember drawing the denouement?

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Even a list of sources can have an arc. Build your story with headings, order, annotations. You’re information professionals, this is what you do best! Storifying it can help you make it better.

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