Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.

Writers’ Workshop offered at AALL 2010 Annual Meeting

The AALL 2010 Annual Meeting in Denver will again feature a Writers’ Workshop hosted by the AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers Committee. The workshop will be held Sunday, July 11, 2010, from 12:00-1:15. The event offers a roundtable format in which new and experienced writers can interact and share ideas about any aspect of the publication process, including finding topics to write about, scheduling the writing process, and choosing an appropriate journal. Moderators include writers and editors speaking from both academic and practice-oriented viewpoints. Space is limited to forty participants. If you would like to reserve your spot, please contact James M. Donovan, Chair, AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers Committee, at or 706-542-5077.

A brief workshop but it may prove helpful.  See the Call for Papers past winners to understand more about what the committee does.

Webinar: SharePoint Out of the Box – Power Your Intranet Using SharePoint Lists

SharePoint lists allow you to quickly and easily integrate library content into your Intranet portal, making it possible to search, sort and filter without the need for programming or third party software.  Register now to join us in a webinar called SharePoint Out of the Box: Power Your Intranet Using SharePoint Lists, that will be held on Thursday, February 11, 2010 from Noon to 1PM Central. You can learn how to create and manage research portals, virtual libraries, bibliographies, collections of external and internal links, or even use lists to generate update-able navigation within your site. You can transfer Excel or Access data to a SharePoint list in minutes.  We’ll look at examples, examine the uses, benefits and drawbacks of using SharePoint lists, then walk through the basics of creating lists, adding data, and presenting the information on SharePoint sites.

During the session, you will:

  1. Understand the possible benefits and drawbacks to using SharePoint lists
  2. Learn how to create a list, import data to a SharePoint list and incorporate lists into your SharePoint pages

Cost:  $30 per person USD or $60 USD for groups of up to 10 from the same firm


Cindy Chick, Global Manager of Knowledge Systems, Latham & Watkins LLP
Cindy works closely with the library, docket, records and knowledge management groups to help define and implement technology-focused solutions in her current role as Global Manager of Knowledge Systems.   She was co-editor/publisher of for 6 years, and has been published in the American Lawyer, Searcher, PLL Perspectives and Online Magazine  as well as speaking for a number of conferences and programs.   Cindy maintains a blog called, “a conversation on law library technology and knowledge management.” Her most recent project is called, a web site for those who travel with their dogs.


Nina Platt, Principal ConsultantNina Platt Consulting, Inc.
Owner and principal consultant, Nina Platt is a law librarian and former AmLaw 100 firm library director who has worked in law firms since 1986.  Her work in library management has spanned all but 4 of those years.  Nina believes the most effective law firm libraries are critical to both the business and practice of law and that achieving to build a business critical library can only be done through the use of business tools like strategic plans, business plans, business cases, and more.  She has written and delivered numerous articles, presentations, and papers on library and knowledge management topics.   

Questions?  Contact


5 Strategies for Developing Technology Know How

j0402233.jpgI am often asked how I learned about technology. I have to say that I’ve had little formal training as I started out unless you count the 3 day training session North Dakota held for librarians in 1982. I was a director of a mid-sized public library at the time and (if I must admit) quite a bit younger.

The North Dakota State Library had decided it wanted to replace the teletype machines that were in city/county libraries that we used for interlibrary loan requests. The goal of the training was to give us everything we needed to know to purchase a computer, modem and communications software, get it set up and running, and teach our staff to send interlibrary loan requests as they came in.

The computer we purchased had 640k RAM and one 5 ¼ floppy disk. The modem had a baud rate of 312. In other words, the computers we first used did not have much power or speed.

But, I digress. The training was a great base for what I would learn later. We learned how the computer worked from the ground up. Up until then I had only used an OCLC terminal as a work-study student and some type of computer that required a coupler to send messages while at my first job. The training I received during those 3 days in North Dakota not only allowed me to go back to my library and set things up, it also helped me understand better how the hardware and software worked going forward.

Next came building databases and managing the library system at my first law firm position, along with trying to make DOS CD-ROMs work on Macs. I also took a great class where I learned how to take a computer apart and put it back together.  A process that took the mystery out of how the computer worked.

In the next position I taught myself HTML and learned more about databases.  While consulting for a short stint between positions, I learned more about library systems, web development and how a networked was set up.  I also took a class on how to evaluate electronic resources with addtional classes in project management and systems development as part of an MBA degree I have yet to complete.  Throughout my career I’ve consistently worked to learn more about the various enterprise applications from a user perspective but keeping the big picture in mind – thinking about integration with knowledge management initiatives and more.

At my last firm, I learned more about web development including gathering user requirements and delivering them in the form of an intranet.  Most importantly, I learned that technology needed to be tied to the firm’s goals and objectives and that technology for the sake of technology meant nothing. I also learned how to help people transition through the changes that technologies bring to their lives.  I would not say all the change initiatives went smoothly, but understanding the people side of change and acting on it made a difference.

So, what would I recommend for those of you who are just starting out, want to learn more and don’t have formal training?

  1. Attend training that gives you the basics. You can read to pick this up as well but nothing takes the place of a hands-on class where you can ask questions.

  2. Attend training that takes you beyond the basics. Even if the training doesn’t appear to apply to you, you will pick up something you can use later.

  3. Volunteer for projects that give you exposure to technology – requiring you to learn. I have always found that it was easier to learn something if it made a difference.

  4. Ask questions. I have always been treated very well when I asked IT to explain something I didn’t understand. Just like us, they like to be able to demonstrate what they know.

  5. Read whatever you have time to read on the topic of the use of technology and, most importantly, specific topics that interest you.  As of late, my interests have been in using technology for knowledge management which to me encompasses many topics. 

The bottom line here is to be inquisitive and willing to explore.  Also, don’t focus on becoming an expert in technology.  Instead, learn enough to be able to see the big picture and how the library fits into that picture, converse with technical staff and plan for the future.

This article was originally published in the MALL Newsletter, Sept/Oct Issue.