ILTA White Papers

The New Librarian

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XXXX AALL/ILTA White Paper 47 ENVIRONMENT by Terry Psarras of Carlton Fields I'd say that the changes in my career have been due to a combination of environmental and personal factors. On one hand, changes in the way libraries work and information is processed create opportunities to LLING AN CREASING ED Cunningham Rushing of nd Boone, LLP e to credit o Tropical certainly y success ho urged w school, reat and mmunity brarians. areer in petitive s been ng and ses an uture. TRAGEDY BRINGS A NEW FOCUS TO LIGHT Although very tragic for the school, it was lucky for me that a 2001 tropical storm devastated the University of Houston Law Center Library. Panicked school administrators struggled with how to teach legal research when the library's entire print collection was being shoveled out of the basement with a bulldozer. Although electronic research was still relatively new for large academic libraries, the school decided to issue unlimited Westlaw and Lexis access to our incoming class of law students. I enjoyed working with the databases and quickly determined that research was going to be a focus for me. An undergraduate background in social sciences and statistics had laid the groundwork for logical searching, and a rigorous legal education helped me develop analytical skills. After receiving my JD, I proceeded to the University of North Texas College of Information (then the School of Library and Information Sciences) and pursued a Master of Library and Information Sciences degree in the law librarianship program, earning a certificate of legal informatics. I completed most of my master's coursework online through the school's distance learning program, further adding to the technology skills I was developing as a researcher. As I pursued my master's degree, I spent a semester in an academic environment as a student reference librarian at the SMU Law Library. I then moved to Houston, Texas to work as a research librarian at King & Spalding LLP, a large law firm. After two years there, I decided to move back to Dallas to complete my last semester of graduate school while I worked as an electronic resources librarian for a private school. In this role, I was able to continue developing my technology skills as I assisted the catalogers and developed course wiki pages with research guides and multimedia content for student use in the library. I also worked part- time in a management consulting firm administering the sales team's CRM database, ensuring accurate company information, updating records and assigning sets of contacts for the targeting pipeline. This is how my career in business development began. branch out to other areas of work. Terry Psarras, MLIS is the Manager of Legal Information Resources at Carlton Fields. He can be contacted at tpsarras@ to continue developing my technology skills as I assisted the catalogers. I was able INTELLIGENCE This introduction to business development, along with a series of research and reference positions, led me to my next career step — competitive intelligence (CI). I was hired at Haynes and Boone, LLP in the fall of 2008 as the firm's first CI professional with the intention that I would develop a CI function for the firm. The timing was perfect with the global financial crisis placing more pressure on law firms and their corporate clients than ever before. Today, firms face significant challenges in cost control, strategic client growth and attorney business development. The need for information has increased immensely in the past few years. Never before have firms had access to so much information about their clients, markets, competitors and industries, and never before THE MOVE INTO COMPETITIVE AN EVER-CHANGING Technology and changes in the structure of our collections allow, even dictate, looking for activity in other areas. On the other hand, I have had a natural inclination to try new things — especially in the technology arena — and to not be constricted by the traditional label used to define what a librarian is. IT BEGINS WITH GREAT LEADERSHIP In 1986, I started working as a library assistant in the government documents section of an academic library. Working for a wonderful librarian, I learned things about the profession that I still use 25 years later, and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there. Shortly after I graduated from college with a degree in business marketing and management in 1991, I started working as a library assistant at a law firm. My luck continued, as I worked under another great librarian. She was great for my development, allowing and encouraging me to expand my horizons. After she retired, I became the head librarian in 1995. STEPPING UP TO THE CHALLENGE Until recently, my career trajectory had been pretty normal to information when properly used, and information is my livelihood. for a librarian. Then things began to change. The law firm I worked for created their first website in the mid- to late-'90s. As the firm was looking for someone to manage it, I was the only one interested in taking on such a project. Being at the right place at the right time — and keeping an open mind — helps! More important, skills that librarians possess, such as organization and classification skills, came in very handy with the project. I also built the first, very basic intranet at that firm. This was also a natural extension of my knowledge and duties inside the firm because the technology allows for A STRONG NETWORK FOR GROWTH Over the course of my career, I have developed a great network of librarians and vendors that make up my friends, colleagues and mentors. We have encouraged professional development and helped each other along the way in our careers. I am grateful to have this network of peers and mentors because of their support and guidance. It continues to be among the most important elements in what I consider a successful career. I look forward to continuing to contribute to the field and to creating a dynamic community of CI practitioners in the legal profession. better access has it been so important to harness that information to drive accurate and effective strategic management. Haynes and Boone, LLP now has two dedicated CI researchers embedded within the business development department. We have deployed a number of technologies to assist in the collection and analysis of data, including a listening platform, a client analysis tool, various CRM add-ons, business intelligence products and numerous database and resource subscriptions. We coordinate all of these tools and liaise with various firm departments, including accounting, the library, conflicts and IT. The firm needs CI more and more, and our CI team has never been busier. I predict that as firm leadership's needs become increasingly sophisticated, law firm CI will continue to evolve as a critical element of management support. NEW FIRM, NEW PROSPECTS In 2000, I was hired by my present firm as a librarian and intranet developer. The firm did not have an intranet at that time. Since then, we've gone through four generations of intranets, introducing the first SharePoint portal around 2006. I am currently part of the portal advisory team. In 2007, I was offered and added the position of manager of the technology training department to my duties. Some of the same skills I use as a librarian translated very well to training and managing information. I have been taking on a much larger role in project management when we are looking at upgrading or replacing existing products, or introducing new tools for our end users. Being asked to lead some of these efforts is gratifying because it allows me to showcase my skills, it lets me grow professionally, and my firm benefits from it. I believe the organizational structure at Carlton Fields has also helped my career. The librarian reports to the CIO. This structure made sense when the intranet development duties were added to the plate of the librarian. While not being an independent department has some drawbacks, being a part of IT has opened other doors and reduced potential friction. EXPAND YOUR WORLD The need to adapt to a new world is out there for every librarian to see, but some folks respond differently from others. I have been given good opportunities to expand my world, and I have taken them. I can't say that all librarians I know have done so. The pressures we feel to expand our horizons are sometimes due to library-related reasons and sometimes due to financial/organizational reasons (i.e., sometimes a role might be added to a librarian's plate due to potential cost savings to the firm or because of the real or perceived lack of activity in traditional library roles). Changes are occurring in the library environment, and we are busier than ever. Librarians' marked propensity to not self-promote their value and not be very visible in an organization work against us. What we do has changed, but that does not make for less work, just different work. The world around me keeps changing, so I have tried to keep up and make the best of it. You can, too. Emily Cunningham Rushing is the Competitive Intelligence Manager at Haynes and Boone, LLP. She can be contacted at emily.rushing@ Although the position was primarily focused on IES N a little out of the are. Many people s required to work organizations. As an advanced degree was hough the job seemed like t past the fact I would need to s. ng a living as a professional a law librarian to work as a of curiosity and partially to get went to meet her. I was surprised to ypes of librarian jobs are out there. ns, corporate librarians, government intrigued me, and I applied to the School of Library and Information cel at research or reference, some echnology, and some excel at making discovered an affinity for organizing nline environment and focused my rmation architecture (IA). OOD USE ry director of Nossaman LLP contacted me be interested in the newly created position of onic services librarian. This is a fairly traditional es on print and online acquisitions. The person n would handle the distribution and organization terials, including purchasing, cataloging and ms. The "electronic services" side of the role would e online delivery, licensing and organization of n and the training of online library resources. the above tasks, my IA experience was a key factor to bringing me on board. At the time, the firm had a long-term plan to develop its first intranet, and the library director knew my skills would be an asset. I started out by developing an online library resource guide that highlighted the library's resources and showcased services the library team could provide to attorneys. The online guide was well-received and it provided a segway for our department to be put in charge of the intranet project in 2008. The library director and I designed a framework for the new intranet working with focus groups, practice leaders and other departments to ensure the finished product would meet the users needs. My experience with IA allowed me to map out the information flow while my boss put her project management skills to work. We successfully launched the intranet in 2009, and its management quickly became my primary job. Even for a firm our size, there was a great deal of content floating around begging to be organized, and I began spending more and more time with the various administrative departments to make their unique information accessible. MANAGEMENT The library director and I were developing an interest in knowledge management since these principles are so in line with what librarians do every day. We are fortunate that the library team is highly valued at Nossaman, and we were able to expand our responsibilities into being the knowledge management department in 2011. Our new department title included a new role for me as an enterprise content manager, a position that focuses on the strategies, processes and tools for organizing and storing print and electronic content throughout its lifecycle to help the firm achieve its business goals. My first assignment was to project manage our ALONG COMES KNOWLEDGE InterAction upgrade in conjunction with the IT and business development teams. In most law firms, the business development team is responsible for managing InterAction; however, at Nossaman, InterAction was being maintained by several different departments. The HR team was using it as our employee database, BD used it as a marketing tool and the library was maintaining service provider folders that tracked internal knowledge about judges, law firms, business consultants and vendors. One of the main reasons our department was asked to lead the upgrade is because I became very familiar with InterAction during the intranet implementation. We wrote a SQL script to pull employee information from InterAction each night, and that was how we populated our people directory on the intranet. The upgrade was an incredibly complex project because the firm was on quite an outdated version of the software, but this made for a fabulous learning experience. Reviewing all the information in the system showed us that InterAction was a powerful knowledge management tool — one that could allow us to provide meaningful information to the attorneys, which, in turn, would allow them to enhance their business development goals. Along with members of the business development team, we continue to work with the attorneys in further developing information in the database. UNDER A NEW UMBRELLA In April 2012, the department entered another new phase and moved under the direction of a newly hired chief information officer. The department now includes IT, records, docket and research and information services. I am excited to be working with these teams and to share my unique knowledge and skills. Our team has had a long history of successfully partnering on projects with IT, and I know we will continue to be successful in the future. With the change came another new title. I am now the Information Manager, and I feel it best epitomizes what I do. After a year away from working directly with the library, I now manage the research librarians and am responsible for the library budget. I also continue to manage the intranet and am in the beginning stages of a design upgrade. JACK OF ALL TRADES In my nearly six years at Nossaman, I have held a variety of positions and had to be a "jack of all trades." Through it all, I have always focused on how information flows through the firm in an effort to make it accessible and useful to our attorneys and staff. I am extremely fortunate to be working in an organization that looks beyond the traditional librarian role and has allowed me to develop new skills and branch out to other areas of the firm.

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