Sharron Wilson recently chatted with her Advocates Library colleague David Brown about the role of Professional Groups. David is a Committee Member from the Scottish Law Librarians Group (SLLG). This is what David had to say…….
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR ROLE?
I am the Senior Bibliographic Services Assistant. I’ve worked for the Faculty of Advocates for 14 years: beginning as a book cleaner, then as a support assistant (loose-leaf updating and shelving) in my first year. I really enjoy my current post and working in the library.
My main responsibilities are:
- Cataloguing accessions and maintaining the records of the library catalogue
- Managing the space and physical stock in the library
- Administering conservation and preservation of the rare materials
- Project managing an annual book cleaning programme
Like most law librarians I find myself involved in various functions of the library: from regular covering of the enquiry service through to helping move cabinets and setting up exhibitions. The work of a law librarian involves a surprising amount of physicality and screwdrivers. ‘101 uses for library pliers’ would be a very handy module on the post-graduate course.
I am also a member of the Scottish Law Librarians Group and have been a committee member since 2011.
WHAT IS THE SCOTTISH LAW LIBRARIANS GROUP?
The Scottish Law Librarians Group, commonly known by the abbreviation SLLG, is a group which represents the interests of Scots law library and information professionals and anyone who handles Scots law information.
The group is self-funding through a modest membership subscription. It delivers a vocational platform for members to interact, have access to training opportunities and to be, most importantly, peer-supported in their professional sector and wider career.
The SLLG has embraced Twitter (@scotlawlibs), blogging (https://sllgblog.wordpress.com/) and has a website (www.sllg.org.uk) with a members’ section for discussions. It’s not got with the Instagram kids quite yet, though.
The SLLG traditionally tries to put on a minimum of 3 events a year (often there are more) as a mix of training, current awareness networking and visits.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE AHEAD FOR THE SLLG?
The main challenge for the SLLG is always the same: to continue. Law information professionals need specialist groups such as the SLLG to exist for them.
As a community group, the SLLG is only worth how much its members find it worthwhile. It is the membership that moulds the group into their own image. It is in our nature, if we are fortunate enough, to help others. The SLLG has the perfect attributes within it to accomplish this.
In the early 2000s, the SLLG was made up of around 100 members. Sadly there is no getting away from the law information professional sector as one under a number of pressures right now. This has been reflected by the SLLG in reduced membership and related topics raised at recent networking events. The committee, also, has faced a harder role in these times to provide value for money events.
In the past year the SLLG has successfully adapted in many respects to the new climate where everyone’s resources are precious.
The introduction of Short Skills, Networking and Presentation events (called, cutely, SSNaP Chats) have been revelatory. The idea came from enabling the extremely capable skillset of the membership to be shared as a form of in-house knowledge.
SSNaPs allow members to freely share, workshop and explore services and particular skills with other members with little formality and lots of flexibility. The committee becomes a conduit rather than organiser for these events to go ahead. SSNaP chats have proved very popular to both attend and run.
Of course, there are still the social aspects of the group and library visits to enjoy.
I see the main challenge for law information professionals to be in promoting themselves as professionally equal to their service users. It is vital to get across the continued professional development, experience and, above all, expertise of the law librarian.
It’s all very well for law information professionals saying lawyers will miss their qualities if they are removed. Unless lawyers know what was there in the first place, how will they know where to look for what’s missing?
I am a true believer that our little corner of the information profession requires an engaged SLLG. Our sector is a small world; capable of cruelty, no doubt about it, and having an organisation which brings us together positively is essential.
CAN SWOP AND THE SLLG COLLABORATE?
SWOP and SLLG can learn a lot from one another.
Ultimately it’s up to those with interests to connect with the potential held within these groups. I think this is something SWOP is very good at and the SLLG can take note of.
I was fortunate to be invited to attend a SWOP meeting because I was interested in the very positive developments of SWOP. SWOP is a great open networking group. I was impressed at the wide spectrum of backgrounds of those with an interest in what can be arguably seen as the niche workings of Official Publications. SWOP has done really well to harness this asset and find momentum from it.
SWOP and SLLG have a cross-over of members, which makes occasionally working together for a mutual benefit easy to consider.
I feel there is scope for both memberships to think where SWOP or the SLLG would be best placed to offer the other learning, blog posting or interest opportunities. Those dual members are crucial to charting this.
I’ve noticed recently that SWOP have run a few events based around law subjects and have visited law libraries. Last year SLLG hosted a talk about the parliamentary legislative process.
SWOP members might well see the worth in learning more about the law information sector. The SLLG would be ideally placed to facilitate this for SWOP whilst still benefiting SLLG members not in SWOP. Likewise, SLLG members could very much benefit from discussing official publications and projects with SWOP members.
Groups like ours can make such a constructive impact to their members’ work life it makes sense to support one another when there is an opportunity.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE THINKING ABOUT JOINING THE SLLG?
You won’t be disappointed – just sign here!
Or the long answer: if our interests match some of your own, look around the website, get in touch with someone on the committee or ask to come to one of our events and see what you think of us. I’m confident you’ll find us a lovely group.