AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum | January/February 2016 | Volume 20, Number 3

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 | AALL SPECTRUM 17 LAUREN M. COLLINS LAW LIBRARY DIRECTOR AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Cleveland, OH •••• Other professional development activities focus on what I call the "librarian skill set." ese activities improve our capability to do one or more of the following: ¡ ¡ Define the information need. ¡ ¡ Find the information. ¡ ¡ Vet and validate it. ¡ ¡ Organize it. ¡ ¡ Disseminate it. Most of our professional develop- ment activities fall into this category. is is how we justify conference attendance and other activities, so program tie-ins to the librarian skill set have to be obvious or explainable. Finally, I encourage my staff to be active in a variety of professional organizations. Not only do the different library organizations have different strengths, but they also help us extend our "secret librarian hand- shake." For example, one staff member belongs to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). We're not librarians for a state legislature, but they welcomed her anyway. Her membership and contacts give us a real advantage when putting together 50-state surveys and hunting legisla- tive histories outside of our state. Perhaps the biggest advantage, though, is the heads-up it gives us about emerging issues. e AGO deals with existing law. Most of the NCSL members are researching for laws- to-be. Knowing that an issue soon may be on the AGO's plate allows us to get information resources in place before the AGO needs them. We publicize the benefits of the "secret librarian hand- shake" whenever possible, implicitly justifying the membership costs in money and time. that can be used to take advantage of excellent professional development pro- grams presented by our business school. ese provide opportunities to learn skills like leading with emotional intelligence and developing successful teams. is benefit is not unique to the academic environment; government libraries and some larger firms offer similar opportunities. You may also consider making your own opportunities. ere are neighbor- ing libraries that also have shrinking budgets and staffs with professional development needs. Beside the tra- ditional regional opportunities, such as AALL chapter conferences and the Legal Writing Institute's biennial one-day conferences, why not contact the other law libraries in your area and arrange a casual get-together, attend firm librarian meetings, or plan a field trip to see how other librarians are handling something you are re-thinking in your own library? Our colleagues are doing fantastic things and librarians are always willing to share. Of course, an obvious answer to this question is that AALL provides phe- nomenal educational opportunities. In response to our decreasing professional development funds, AALL webinars are free to members this year, thanks to Wolters Kluwer. If the idea of watching F rom a recent poll of academic law library directors, it is clear that many of us cannot support professional development for our staffs in the manner we would like. Sometimes we wish would could fully support conference travel, but budgets simply do not allow it. As things have become leaner, we have to think of alternative ways to stay current. I encourage the librarians and staff in my library to consider campus leadership programs and to create their own professional development opportunities. If professional development funding is shrinking at your library, first, find out what is available on campus. Our university provides us with the extraordinary benefit of eight graduate level credit hours per semester a webinar solo does not grab your attention, plan a brown bag around one and talk with your colleagues about what you have learned aer the session. If your library is having difficulty funding travel, think of ways you can participate. Join a committee. Propose a program. Your active participation encourages directors to be creative about financing, even in leaner times. We want to support you, and your activity helps us make the argument that travel budgets must be sufficient to allow us to support our engaged work- force so that they can continue to serve our faculty and students effectively. ¢ Images © iStock.com/Jorge Villalba.

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