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HeinOnline: 18 Years In the Making

By Alan Kilpatrick

HeinOnline, the extremely popular online law library, is turning 18.  Launched in the early years of the internet in 2000, HeinOnline positioned itself as an electronic pioneer.  Recognizing the potential of the internet to transform legal information services, HeinOnline aspired to become the world’s leading electronic law library.

The resource has grown dramatically over the past almost two decades.  The convenient “one-stop shop” platform now includes over 2000 legal journal titles from Canada, the United States, and the Commonwealth as well as an impressive historical collection of case law and legislation from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Fortunately, Saskatchewan members can take full advantage of this must-have resource.  It is available on demand at your fingertips and on your computer’s desktop in the Law Society Library Members’ Section.  The Law Society Library remains committed to providing members with access to online legal resources, wherever they may be in the province, in the latest and most convenient digital formats available.

Sources Cited

Sabo, S. (2018, May 23). HeinOnline Is Legal!. Retrieved from https://home.heinonline.org/blog/2018/05/heinonline-is-legal/

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Build Bridges and Broaden Your Reach

By Alan Kilpatrick

This talk was presented at the 2018 Canadian Association of Law Libraries Conference as part of a breakout panel presentation: “Taking the ‘Work’ Out of Networking: Build Relationships, Not a Stack of Business Cards.”

It’s never too early to start networking.  It’s been valuable at every stage of my career.

Networking helped me identify my professional interests and led me to law librarianship.  During my MLIS degree at Western, I wasn’t sure which area of librarianship to pursue.  I gained career insight by joining a variety of student groups, such as the Progressive Librarians’ Guild (PLG) and Canadian Library Association (CLA) student chapters.  I also took advantage of conference student rates and attended diverse conferences such as the Ontario Library Association conference and the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA) conference, and by connecting with the wide range of librarians I met at Western.  For example, through the PLG I discovered an interest in the law and its intersection with librarianship.  Through a student position at a campus library where I had a supportive supervisor, I found I enjoyed providing reference services.  Through an internship completed in my final semester with a children’s literacy organization in India, I discovered children’s librarianship wasn’t for me.

During my career as a law librarian, networking has become even more valuable.  Through the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL), I’ve connected with likeminded professionals.  I regularly contact colleagues met through CALL, such as Ken Fox or Ann Marie Melvie, to ask for advice, help answering reference and research questions, and about professional development.  Entering my fifth year of law librarianship, I’ve begun looking at other law librarians in the profession to see how they’ve developed their careers and what paths they’ve taken to get where they are.  This has motivated me in my own professional development.

Recently, I’ve begun to notice that many of the professional opportunities I’ve been fortunate to participate in arose through networking.  For example, a recent opportunity I’ve had regarding copyright librarianship came directly from networking.  It’s never too early to start networking.  Don’t put it off.  It’s worth it.

Get Active.  Joining a professional association is a great way to network.  As a new law librarian, joining CALL and the Saskatchewan Library Association (SLA) connected me with similar professionals and provided networking opportunities at conferences and social events.

Do more than join.  Volunteer for an association.  Attending conferences where you don’t know anyone can feel awkward.  I certainly felt so.  Volunteering eliminates that awkwardness and enhances your networking.  I found that volunteering, with social media during the CALL conference and as a technology volunteer during the SLA conference provided me with plenty of opportunities to speak with other attendees, presenters, and vendors.

Join a committee to get the most out of professional association networking.  I’ve participated in the CALL Vendor Liaison Committee and currently chair the Website Editorial Board.  I’ve sat on the SLA board for the past two years.  Participating in committees gave me the opportunity to connect with association members on a smaller scale, provided a safe and welcoming environment to practice my networking skills, and has resulted in some of the most gratifying professional experiences I’ve had.

Here’s an important point.  Don’t commit yourself to every volunteer or committee opportunity you’re approached about.  Don’t be afraid to say no and don’t spread yourself too thin.  As a profession, we’re too keen to take on more than we should.  This can lead to burn out which can only harm your professional reputation.  In all your professional endeavours, networking or otherwise, strive to maintain work life balance.  It’s important.

Network widely and wisely.  Don’t limit your networking horizons.

I’ve endeavored to practice networking every day since becoming a law librarian.  I decided to join the Saskatchewan Library Association (SLA) for the opportunity to practice networking.  As a law librarian, I wasn’t sure if I had much in common with the public librarians that largely make up SLA.  What I’ve found is that networking widely among the information profession, even among non-law librarians, has led to some unexpected and fruitful partnerships I hadn’t anticipated.

Attending SLA events connected me with a diverse group of librarians and allowed me to form several mutually beneficial relationships.  For example, I often call on the unique expertise of the Legislative Library for help answering complex legislative questions.  I offer similar assistance to them for legal reference questions.  Joining forces in this way has enabled me to serve my users more effectively. Chatting with public librarians in SLA led to the recognition that unmet legal needs exist among the public.  This, in part, inspired one of our library’s most promising partnerships, the Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Project.

Networking isn’t limited to something you do with librarians.  We know that in-person contact with our users is decreasing as the services we provide increasingly occur online.  We need to get out of the library, become visible, and network with our stakeholders to remain successful in the future.

Attend stakeholder conferences in addition to library conferences.  We’ve hosted a booth, and occasionally presented, at the Canadian Bar Association Saskatchewan Branch Mid-Winter Meeting for the past five years.  Attending has allowed us to learn more about our user’s information needs and how to better serve them.  It’s been an opportunity to educate our stakeholders about the library’s value and potential.  Attending has increased my visibility as a law librarian and the relationships I have with lawyers.  Most importantly, it’s increased the visibility and reputation of our library.

Share your story.  We’re all doing interesting things in our libraries and as library professionals.  Tell people about it!  Fellow librarians can learn from your experiences, ideas, and lessons learned.  This can lead to new connections and partnerships.  Sharing your story among stakeholders will educate them about your library’s value.

There are many ways to share your story.  I’ve found Twitter and blogs to be among the most effective.  Twitter allowed me to begin reaching out and sharing my story.  I strategically used Twitter to identify law librarians and stakeholders I wanted to learn from and connect with.  For example, I recall following Michel-Adrien Sheppard and Connie Crosby long before I met them in-person.  I knew they were people I wanted to connect with.

Twitter’s character count does limit the ability to tell a story.  I found that connecting Twitter to a blog results in a great way to tell, and then broadcast, your story.  Write a blog post that tells an aspect of your story: a professional accomplishment, a new workplace initiative, or a library project.  Then, tweet it strategically.  Include a link to your post and the Twitter handles of those you want to share the story with.  It takes time.  Eventually, it does pay off and results in real world connections.

This is what we’ve done with Legal Sourcery, our Law Society Library blog.  For example, I’ve written dozens of blog posts about the potential of law libraries to improve access to legal information and then shared them via my Twitter account.  I strategically targeted other libraries and legal stakeholders throughout the province.  Eventually, someone from the University of Saskatchewan’s Law School read the posts and approached our library to learn more about how libraries could help with regards to access to legal information.  This, in part, has grown into some of the most exiting partnerships my library participates in today.

Embrace new situations.  Networking can be intimidating.  Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.  Networking confidence is something that will naturally develop over time.  This has been my approach for many of my professional firsts: the first shift on the reference desk, the first networking event, the first conference presentation, the first time chairing a committee, and so on.  Embrace new situations that come your way despite any fears you may have.  You never know where they’ll lead to.

To recap, my five networking points are: It’s never to early to start networking, get active, network widely and wisely, share your story, and embrace new situations.

Thank you.  Please feel free to contact me through email, Twitter, or on my blog if you have any questions.

Legal Sourcery: Four Years On

By Alan Kilpatrick

A blog post in celebration of Legal Sourcery’s fourth anniversary.

Can you provide some background on Legal Sourcery? 

On March 12, 2014, the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library launched the Legal Sourcery blog.  The blog was an effort to better promote the library, market the library’s services and resources, and develop stronger connections with lawyers and the public.  Four years later, Legal Sourcery has exceeded our expectations.  With almost 1500 posts and 240,000 views, the blog has been awarded three Canadian Law Blog Awards (Clawbies) in 2014, 2015, and 2017.  It has helped raise the profile of the library both within the Law Society and throughout Saskatchewan’s legal community, shape a visible and reenergised library brand, and position the library at the centre of legal information initiatives in the province.

 How did you choose the name Legal Sourcery?

Coming up with the name was a collaborative endeavour.  Our entire library team participated in brainstorming blog names.  Our goal was to create a clever name that represented who we are, what we do, and the value we offer.  The names we considered included Collawboration, Lawstronauts, Gopher Law, and Wind Chill.  Ken Fox, our Saskatoon librarian, aptly suggested Legal Sourcery during the discussion.  The team voted and decided on Ken’s suggestion.  While legal resources are what the library provides, legal sourcery is the expertise, capability, and value we bring to legal information services.  It’s the esoteric skill we use to help lawyers and the public navigate the depths of the legal resources jungle.

 Why did you choose WordPress?

We decided on using WordPress after investigating the various blogging platforms available.  WordPress is an excellent option for blogging.  It requires little knowledge of coding, features professional templates, and is simple to use.  It’s free and allows the user to join the blogosphere within minutes.

 How do you monitor the number of posts and the content by contributors?

Our aim has always been to publish at least one new post daily in order to attract and retain readers.  To meet this output, we designated one library team member, Kelly Chiu, to become the blog’s coordinator.  Kelly ensures the blog is discussed at staff meetings, maintains a blog queue with content for the upcoming week, and prompts us when additional posts are required.  Without a coordinator, Legal Sourcery would not have succeeded.

Our Director of Legal Resources, Melanie Hodges Neufeld, maintains oversight and approves all posts before they are published.  She works hard to attract guest contributors for the blog from the Law Society, the Saskatchewan legal community, and external organizations

Since first launching Legal Sourcery, the entire library team has committed to writing regular posts on top of our assigned duties.  Traditionally, library staff have written the majority of posts that appear on the blog.  However, this is now changing as the number of guest contributors has increased in recent years.

What challenges have you encountered?

Creating and maintaining quality content with a limited pool of writers is inevitably challenging.  Attracting guest contributors is key to combating blog burnout and fatigue.  Initially, we found it difficult to attract guest contributors or to convince people it was worth their time to write for a blog.  As Legal Sourcery has achieved more popularity and recognition, it has become easier to attract guest contributors.  Thankfully, this has reduced the burden on library staff to produce daily posts.

 What are your most popular posts?

A few facts and figures from Legal Sourcery:

• Total views to date: 238 791
• Total posts to date: 1458
• Legal Sourcery’s first post: Welcome to Our Blog!
• Legal Sourcery’s top post: Cross Referencing Footnotes in Word, April 29, 2014 (25126 views)

 What are your future plans for Legal Sourcery?

At first, our goal with Legal Sourcery was to advertise the resources, projects, and expertise the library offered, in one central place, to Saskatchewan’s legal community.  However, over the past four years Legal Sourcery has evolved into the central hub for all legal news relevant to the Law Society, lawyers, and the public in Saskatchewan.  The 2017 Clawbies panel explained:

The pride of the Law Society of Saskatchewan, Legal Sourcery continued its top-quality blogging in 2017 with a steady stream of useful content … While strictly speaking a library blog, this really could be seen as the go-to source for Saskatchewan legal news. 

The blog now regularly disseminates information about the Law Society, legislative updates, news and events relevant to lawyers, free legal clinics, and content from external organizations like CanLII.  For the past two years, Legal Sourcery has been proud to serve as the official blog of Saskatchewan’s annual Access to Justice Week.

We intend to continue this evolution and to promote Legal Sourcery as the premier source of legal information in Saskatchewan.  Stay tuned for future developments.

Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?

Here are some tips for aspiring legal information bloggers:

• Think about your goals and audience. Understanding your goals and who you are attempting to reach will shape your blog’s development.
• Coming up with content for posts is not difficult. Follow lawyers and legal information professionals on social media, the blogosphere, and listservs.  What you learn can be repurposed into blog posts.  Take the time to write about the interesting things you are working on.
• Promote your blog on social media and via word of mouth. I often let our users know about the blog during conversations at the reference desk and refer to it while responding to research enquiries.
• Common sense is key. Keep posts professional, pay attention to spelling, and be cautious when writing about controversial issues.  Always consider how a blog post will reflect on your larger organization.

(Reposted from Legal Sourcery)

Regina Public Library’s Legal Speaker Series 2018

By Alan Kilpatrick

The Regina Public Library is hosting its third annual Legal Speaker Series on Saturday, February 10th from 10:00am – 4:30pm at the George Bothwell Branch.

Drop in between these hours to attend a variety of free workshops on common legal issues, and to learn more about your legal rights. Some session require registration.  Volunteer lawyers with Pro Bono Law will be offering 30 minutes of free legal advice. Appointments must be pre-booked directly with Pro Bono Law.

The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library is excited to participate in the event again this year and to connect with members of the public. I will be hosting a workshop on “Doing Your Own Legal Research” for self-represented litigants from 11:15am – 12:15pm:

11:15 – 12:15 – Doing Your Own Legal Research
Doing your own legal research for a court case can be intimidating, especially if you have no formal legal training. However, there is help out there for people wanting to represent themselves. Join reference librarian Alan Kilpatrick from the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library to learn about CanLII, a free legal service that can be accessed by anyone via the Internet. The presentation contains federal and provincial case law, legislation, and more.

Do you need to learn how to conduct your own legal research? Are you just curious about Canadian law? Don’t miss this exciting session with the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library!

We look forward to seeing you there!  Click here to learn more.

(Reposted from Legal Sourcery)

Great LEXpectations

By Alan Kilpatrick

Our colleagues at the Law Society of Manitoba Library recently launched a new blog called Great LEXpectations. It is written and maintained by the Law Society of Manitoba’s Librarian, Karen Sawatzky, and Library Assistant, Stafany Shirley, with new posts every week or two.

On Great LEXpectations, you will find research tips, resources, and news of interest to members of the Manitoba legal profession. Some recent posts include:

• Welcome vLex
• A Sign of the Times
• Free Mandatory Minimum Sentence Monitoring Website

As the Legal Sourcery team has indicated in the past, coming up with a good blog name can be difficult. The About GreatLEXpectations page describes how their blog name was created:

Great LEXpectations is a play on words of the Dickens novel, Great Expectations, and lex, the latin word for law. The library for the Law Society of Manitoba and the legal profession, is called the Great Library, thus the mashup of “Great LEXpectations”.

We look forward to following Great LEXpectations! You can find it online at lawlibrary.ca.

(Reposted from Legal Sourcery)

Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Project Conference

By Alan Kilpatrick

I had the opportunity to represent the Saskatchewan Library Association recently at the Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Project (SALI) Conference.

The SALI conference took place on October 20-21 at the University of Saskatchewan: The Role of Legal Information Providers and Public Libraries in Promoting Access to Justice. The conference brought together representatives from every library region in the province, justice industry stakeholders, and a variety of community organizations to discuss how to increase and improve access to justice and legal information for Saskatchewan’s residents. SALI was first created in 2016 out of the recognition that gaps exist in the public’s access to basic legal information. You can learn more about SALI’s creation here.

The exciting conference featured an action oriented agenda, a variety of diverse panels, and plenty of opportunity for small group discussion:

• Panel 1: Welcome and Opening Remarks
• Panel 2: Reflections on Data Collection in Public Libraries and Legal Information Needs
• Keynote 1: Legal Information, Legal Advice, and Access to Justice
• Panel 3: Accessing Legal Information Resources
• Panel 4: Recognizing Context: Diverse and Overlapping Needs in Rural, Remote, and Urban Centres
• Keynote 2: Accessing Resources and Developing Collections Lists
• Keynote 3: Ongoing Partnerships Model and Moving Forward

Those who missed the conference can still watch the recorded livestream by contacting Katie Riley by email (katie.riley@usask.ca).

Legal Information Innovation in Saskatchewan

By Alan Kilpatrick

The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s ground-breaking efforts to improve access to legal information and justice were recently featured in Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research. This peer-reviewed journal is the official publication of the Partnership, a national network of Canada’s provincial library associations.

The article, “Legal Information Innovation in Saskatchewan”, explores the work libraries are doing to innovative access to justice.  We encourage you to read the article and share it widely among your colleagues.

Abstract
Access to legal information enables people to identify the full range of legal options available to them. In some cases, access to legal information allows people to resolve legal problems outside the court system altogether. Unfortunately, access to legal information in Canada has been described as poor. At the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library, we have been exploring the role libraries can play in improving access to legal information. Over the past three years, we have participated in a multitude of legal information initiatives with justice, community, and library stakeholders. I am here to tell you about these initiatives and what we have learned about promoting access to legal information in a library setting. This article is adapted from presentations given at the 2017 Canadian Association of Law Libraries Conference and the 2017 Saskatchewan Library Association Conference.

Suggested Citation

Kilpatrick, A. (2017). “Legal Information Innovation in Saskatchewan”. Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 12(1).