Five about Blogs

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Andrew Mills who will be presenting a plenary session on Building a Blog at the BIALL Conference is grilled (well asked five questions) on Blogs and Blogging Resources.

1 - Are blogs tools that help avoid information overload or contribute to it?

There are so many sources of information available these days that it's very much a personal choice as to how people like to work and what fits in with their style. My background is electronic engineering and I run a team that does a lot of work about technology issue for a lot of technology-related businesses. We are used to working with online services, databases and the like. So, for us, blogs are actually a really useful tool - both as consumers of information and publishers of information. However, it takes a bit of trial and error to get the most of this type of tool.

For example, subscribing to the RSS for dozens of blogs may feel like information overload. However, with the right software (we use the GreatNews RSS reader) you can watch for keywords or phrases in the blog postings. It takes time to build up a list of blogs to subscribe to and figure out which keywords/phrases bring up the stuff that you're actually interested in. One of the real advantages of using RSS to gather news is that it can drastically reduce the amount of email alerts/newsletters and have a very healthy effect on reducing the amount of email that I get.

I've certainly found that, on the whole, the blogging community is friendly and supportive and news or developments tend to spread much more quickly via blogs than they would do compared to traditional print.

Using blogging as a tool for publishing certainly helps us in keeping on top of developments and helps us turn the issue of keeping up with developments into a useful marketing activity as well, so we get double value from something we need to do anyway.

As with many things in life, creating/consuming blogs does require a certain amount of time but I believe that this can be time very well spend and very valuable.

2 - How do you see blogs developing in the next few years?

Blogging is a phrase that's been around for almost 10 years but its only in the last couple of years that it's reached any sort of general awareness, but that is still pretty low. However, the technology and services available are developing very rapidly indeed and the whole field is starting to enter the mainstream. I think that we're going to see a much greater uptake within businesses. In the legal practice field I suspect that the use of blogs as a source of information will be more than use as a publishing tool simply because the legal profession is generally conservative and generally lawyers are a bit lacking in IT techie skills.

I think we're going to see a lot more mashing-up of different things together. We're going to get wiki/blog combinations with embedded videos and podcasts and more use of these types of tools as internal-only means of improving collaborative working.

One thing that I think is going to present problems is the relatively conservative approach of a lot of firms to things like firewalls. If web-based videos and audio files have a part to play, and I think they do, then users in firms need to be able to get stuff like this through the firewalls.

3 - Do you see a future where law libraries use blogs as a means to collaborate with their customers be that clients (law firms) or students (academic libraries)?

Definitely. Collaborative tools are going to be very significant ways of capturing and sharing knowledge and we can see that already with examples like wikipedia and its connected projects like wikibooks and wikiuniversity.

Using internal blogs (that is, blogging tools that only limited audiences can access) is a great way for distributing updates and information in a searchable, non-email, non-paper way and seems such an obvious thing to do in my mind.

4 - You can choose only 3 blogs to read on a Desert Island, what are they?

A) Real Lawyers :: Have Blogs at - good thinking about how to use a blog as a lawyer
B) Gaping Void - great cartoons at
C) PFSK - - to see where things are going.

Although, maybe if I didn't have to think about work on such a desert island better choices would be:

X) - I'd have to overcome being a vegetarian though.
Y) - inspiration to get out and surf
Z) - how to make the most of the bountiful coconuts certain to be everywhere.

5 - Finally, what are your five favourite resources for building and maintaining blogs?

A) - this is the blogging service that we use for our IMPACT blog. It's a really great service.
B) - this turn your blog into an RSS feed so that you see who's subscribing to your site and also lets you provide a blog-to-email alerter
C) - find out how many people are visiting your blog
D) - for the GreatNews RSS reader
E) - a great web browser, essentially when using the web constantly. I like the tabbed browser feature and the automatic identification of RSS feeds.

Many thanks to Andrew, I for one look forward to attending his plenary session.

Posted by James Mullan at 15:55 0 comments  

New Orleans - Rise to the Challenge - opening chapter

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

I am the very humble beneficiary of a BIALL bursary to attend the AALL conference in New Orleans in July 2007. It was suggested you may be interested in both the preparations for my attendance as well as a report after the conference. Do let me know what you think.

Admin things like registering for the conference have been done and I've also signed up for a walking tour of the city (no jokes please about needing to take my wellies!). I've also had to organize a conference room for our Baker & McKenzie Librarians pre-conference meeting - no easy feat when they ask you all sorts of questions like how many gallons of tea and coffee you want - I challenge you to find a UK librarian who knows off the top of their head how many gallons of tea 7 people are likely to drink during a day!

Baker & McKenzie have people attending from our offices in Singapore, Moscow, Sydney, London and Hong Kong. We don't usually get to meet up so this is an exciting opportunity for us and somehow, not by intention, the burden of organizing this event has fallen on my shoulders. We've agreed an agenda for our pre-conference meeting and I've got each of the attendees to take ownership of at least one agenda item so we are sharing the load fairly. We have our Global KM person attending who will give us an overview and we will also be having our Global Lexis rep there too. I have one lot of powerpoints in draft and am trying to gather all the information I need which isn't that easy when you're used to just dealing with the issues of one office and now thinking of the wider angle and implications.

I have booked the flights and a very understanding husband and sister-in-law are taking time off work so that my little girl (Annie) can be cared for. My husband works part-time anyway but I do flexible working so I am there for her part of the day during the middle part of the week. I will be away for a week and a day. Annie was two in February and I've been away from her for two nights maximum so far. Now she is chattering away she says things in the mornings like 'Mummy don't go to work, do puzzle with me' - however much I love my job the pleas of my daughter are always very enticing.

I think the title of the AALL conference of 'Rise to the Challenge' is very appropriate not only for the City of New Orleans but for all the Librarians who will be attending and setting their own challenges.

Posted by Fiona Fogden at 10:51 0 comments  

Pre and post Conference entertainment

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

This year’s BIALL Conference is taking place at the Sheffield City Hall which also plays host to gigs and comedy shows. The conference takes place on the 14th and 15th June and we are lucky to be sandwiched between two contrasting giants of the musical world. If you arrive early you can catch ex-Blue member Simon Webbe. If you choose to stay on in Sheffield until the 17th you can catch synth pop band OMD.

Hopefully the conference organisers are currently in negotiations with Simon and / or OMD to perform at our annual dinner. Failing that, perhaps we could turn the dial up to 11 and get Sheffield's foremost "hard rock" band Def Leppard to step in?

Posted by John Franssen at 14:34 6 comments  

The World's Gone Wiki!

Friday, 25 May 2007

Martin Farley who will be presenting a session on "Law Wikis in Practice" provides us with a sneak preview:

"It wasn't so long ago that virtually the only wiki anyone could mention was Wikipedia; now they seem to be popping up all over the place. Almost every organisation you care to look at is now experimenting with them, but no-one has yet figured out exactly how to use them to their full potential.

This is why I thought it would be a good idea to devote a session at this year's BIALL conference in Sheffield to the issue of "Law wikis in practice". In this parallel session on the morning of Friday 14th, I will be taking a look at four examples of wikis in the legal sector to highlight the different ways in which people are utilising this relatively new online tool.

The four examples include a small law firm (an early adopter), an innovative individual (using it to track legislation), a large law firm (adopting a business approach) and a government agency (adopting a more authoritative approach). I'll also list a few other examples at the end to show other possible uses.

Lots of people are very sceptical about using wikis because of some of the bad publicity surrounded sites like Wikipedia, but there is a whole new generation of wikis that are innovative and interesting and they are showing a better way forward.

I'm hoping to help generate a discussion within the legal sector as to how we can use wikis to improve what we do. It would be great if people could chip in with examples of wikis they've used, or even just thought about, and the session could act as a kickstart to that discussion.

The next year or or will be crucial in the development of wikis, so now is an excellent time to get involved in the latest web revolution.


Posted by James Mullan at 16:31 0 comments  

AALL Conference

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

The 100th Annual American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Meeting and Conference will take place this year in New Orleans between the 14th and 17th of July.

The theme of the conference is "Rise to the Challenge" with more than 65 programs and 4 workshops it is bound to be a spectacular conference especially in its 100th year.

Posted by James Mullan at 11:32 0 comments  

Welcome to Sheffield - Part 1

Friday, 18 May 2007

Taken with permission from Maria Mawsons article in the BIALL Newsletter.

"I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to write about Sheffield, my adopted city. I came to Sheffield University when I was 18, and liked it so much that I’ve lived and worked here ever since. It’s a friendly, safe city with a lot to offer.

A few facts and figures to start, before I move on to some more interesting stuff! Sheffield is England’s fourth largest city, behind London, Birmingham and Leeds, with a population of more than 500,000. It has a heritage of heavy industry, and when you mention Sheffield, the two things most people know about are cutlery and steel. Nowadays, it has a balance of manufacturing and service industries.

There are two universities in the city, with over 40,000 students between them. Sheffield is one of England's greenest cities, with over 150 woodlands and 50 public parks, and one third of the city lies within the Peak District National Park. Most of us live within 15 minutes of the open countryside, so it isn’t surprising that a lot of climbers and walkers choose to live here. Sheffield is also very hilly – saves us all a fortune in gym club fees.

Moving on to more interesting facts, Sheffield is home to the two oldest football clubs in the world. No, not Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United, but Sheffield FC and Hallam FC, founded in 1857 and 1860 respectively, both still going strong. For those with an interest in culinary matters, Sheffield has its own unique condiment, Henderson’s Relish! Similar to a Worcestershire sauce, it has been made to a secret recipe for over 100 years, and is available at local supermarkets. It’s lovely on pie and chips, and suitable for vegetarians. Buy a bottle to take home! And for music fans, Sheffield is the home town of the Arctic Monkeys and the wonderful Jarvis Cocker. Other famous sons include Sean Bean, Michael Palin and Sebastian Coe.

If you feel you need to escape the conference for a while, or if you are staying for the weekend my next post will have the details of some activities you might enjoy!"

Posted by James Mullan at 14:59  

Government Web Sites at Risk of Closure

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

As reported previously by the BIALL SCOOP Representative the Transformational Government Annual Report for 2006 recommended that at least 550 Government websites would be shut down, leaving only a handful of sites like the Departmental Websites.

Since then The National Archives (TNA) has been working with the UK Web Archiving Consortium (UKWAC) partners throughout February to gather sites, prioritising those under the most immediate threat of closure.

UKWAC partners agreed to give TNA priority access to the PANDAS web archiving system up to March 6th in order to facilitate the rescue programme. Web archivists at the BL helped by carrying out Quality Assurance checks on the most challenging sites. TNA reported to the UKWAC steering group meeting on April 25th that they had captured most of the 551 sites listed for closure by the Cabinet Office. Copies of sites gathered can be viewed at here courtesy of UKWAC.

A second tranche of websites are likely to be culled in May as part of the same Transformational Government agenda. It was reported that this may involve c.1650 sites, including those of quangos and non departmental public bodies (including the website of the Ladbroke Grove Rail Inquiry)

Posted by James Mullan at 17:06 0 comments  

ALLICE Blog up and running

Thursday, 10 May 2007

A blog for the Association of Law Librarians in Central England (ALLICE) is now up and running and has a new post with details of their next meeting in June.

You can find out more about ALLICE via their web page on the BIALL website.

Posted by John Franssen at 12:40 0 comments  

Statute Law Database is highly commended

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

The Statute Law Database has been highly commended by the CILIP ISG Bookdata Reference Award Judging panel. Commenting on the SLD the judges said that "It is very clear...that is will make a huge difference to the ease with which librarians and the public can search for legislation"

Posted by James Mullan at 11:54 0 comments  

About us

Saturday, 5 May 2007

BIALL is the only professional body in the UK and Ireland to represent and serve information professionals working with legal information. BIALL is a self-supporting association which draws its income primarily from membership subscriptions. Membership is available in the following categories: Personal, Institutional, Unemployed/Retired and Student.

Professional development is encouraged by the organisation of training courses at a national and regional level, while the quarterly journal Legal Information Management keeps members up to date with the latest developments in the legal information world.

The Annual Conference is an important event for many BIALL members, as an opportunity to learn about and discuss, formally and informally, the key issues affecting the legal information profession. BIALL has strong links with international legal information associations and offers bursaries for its members to attend overseas conferences.

The practical day to day running of an information unit is not overlooked, with many members making use of the Duplicates Exchange Scheme to either fill gaps in their collection or pass on unwanted material. BIALL is also responsible for a number of publications including the BIALL Newsletter, the Handbook of Legal Information Management and the Annual Salary Survey.

Posted by Jennifer at 08:39  

The future of City Business Library

Thursday, 3 May 2007

City of London Libraries have issued a consultation on the future of City Business Library. BIALL will be responding on behalf of the Membership (more here later!), but should you want to respond on behalf of your organization, then the link to the reponses page is: libraries_archives_museums_galleries/city_london_libraries/ cbl_periodicals/cbl_future.htm