David Whelan

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I love analytics for the kernels of insight they can provide. One reason to watch web analytics is you can sometimes see what people were hoping to find. A recent visitor arrived at this blog using Bing – which does not obfuscate your search terms – so I could see what was troubling them. It was a question that is probably pretty common in law libraries: are law libraries getting rid of books if they…
One benefit of doing something for a long time is that you are able to cast an objective eye on how others do the same work. Observation is underrated, I think. Leadership is one of those things that you can improve on by watching others and thinking about your own choices. I was thinking about this as I started up a new game of Dragon Age: Inquisition and activated the Fair Weather Friends trial.…
I’m not on LinkedIn, for a couple of reasons. One of those is that I don’t find my community there. Social professional networks are productivity tools to manage weak networks. My experience is that you can do that yourself with a decent memory and an address book, and avoid the commercial cruft. Last week was a good example of how my weak network works. I differentiate between weak and strong networks in the same…
Sometimes our library environments create obstacles for researchers to use them comfortably. There remains a tension between quiet and the need to make noise to collaborate. A law library often has a culture that may not be obvious to the occasional user. The use of children’s books in courthouse law libraries seems a way to smooth some of the friction that self-represented litigants might experience. When I was in law school, one of our colleagues…
Where do law librarians come from and where do they go to? Organizations that want to promote diversity struggle with the demographics of law librarianship. There’s an issue with finding and attracting diverse candidates. But there’s also the other end: are there positions waiting at the other end, once the candidates are looking for jobs? Diversity is a challenge for lots of reasons. Smarter people than me have already looked at, discussed, and identified tools
One tension in law libraries is comprehensiveness. Do we collect or license access to all of the information that our researchers need? The model has shifted, from just in case collection to just in time. It’s an acceptance of gaps. But could we push the envelope further and create bigger gaps without impacting research quality? I went to a thrift shop over the weekend. It’s Halloween costume season and I needed some oddments. It’s also…
“You’ve used too much vacation,” came the voice across the phone. That’s never good news. I also thought it sounded … wrong. We’d gone from a simple spreadsheet system to an online attendance system. Since then, many staff had retreated to double books but I had tried to commit to the online system. It turns out the system was wrong. But more than that, it seems to be broken. When a core system is broken,…
The PDF is pervasive in legal information. It’s over-used by people who prioritize format over usability on the web, but it’s a necessity for law libraries. The tools for working with PDFs have changed just as law library collections have. Where we once bought a license and owned software, PDF tools are increasingly provided by subscription. When I was quoted $2,000 for our team’s annual Adobe license, I knew it was time to look at…
I had coffee with some early career information professionals a short while back and asked them about what they liked and didn’t like about their current organization. One thing that came up was that they both appreciated having autonomy to get their work done. The flipside to employee autonomy is certainty that management will be supportive. It seems to me that you can’t have the one without the other. Those professionals work on my teams,…
For whatever reason, my post on law libraries blocking access to people from other disciplines struck a chord. As a commenter pointed out, law libraries make decisions that they think will best suit their audience. I’m going to take a second look at that idea, but from the perspective of decision-making. As a law library director, are my only choices A or the opposite of A, or do I have the ability to make…