We presented on the topic of current awareness at the MAALL, LLAW, MichALL, MALL, and CALL Joint Annual Meeting on October 19, 2017. We thought it was important to offer the perspective of a firm, academic, and government librarian to reflect the needs of an audience with diverse constituencies. With the buzz around “fake news,” now more than ever it is important for librarians to discuss the best ways to disseminate information. During our presentation, we discussed the current awareness tools we use to stay current, how we stay organized with the current awareness and prevent becoming overwhelmed with information, and finally how we can collaborate and tap into our professional network to expand information possibilities.
Current Awareness Tools
One common thread was that all of us use Westlaw, Lexis and Bloomberg Law more or less when finding news. Lindsey also uses Manzama, a news aggregator that goes back six months. Lindsey tends to focus on providing attorneys with news on company and people information via public records and company profile resources. Clanitra focuses on teaching her students the best resources to use, verifying information, and the pitfalls of using finding news from social media. Annie pays attention to issues within the railroad industry, policy and legislation affecting the Railroad Retirement Act, and policy, legislation and issues that affect federal employment.
We shared our top tips for organizing and staying abreast of information. Lindsey talked about organizing information by running all news alerts through a cataloging electronic management system (ECM), using a master alert spreadsheet, setting up and managing alerts through Manzama. Clanitra stays organized through her extensive Internet browser bookmarking system, LibGuides, regularly checking blogs/Blawgs and the folder system in Westlaw and Lexis. Being in federal librarianship, Annie has some technology and cloud based tool restrictions. She stays organized by using Outlook folders and paper files.
During the presentation, we shared how we collaborate with one another during our work day at our institutions. Lindsey collaborates through her organization’s use of the OneNote, Library Guides, the Document Management System (DMS), and Skype for Business. Clanitra collaborations through LibGuides, OneDrive and working with students and faculty. For Annie, collaboration is a really important tool in her current awareness tool box. Since her resources tend to be fairly limited in scope, she has to rely heavily on her network of librarian friends to help her with sources in a pinch.
Expand Professional Network
We discussed how we can tap into a professional network to expand information possibilities. The best tool we have for collaboration is each other! We can collaborate via the listserv. We can call upon firm librarians to see what practice ready skills law firms are looking for. Firm librarians can ask academic librarians for ILL requests. If we all work together, it is amazing how much we can accomplish and save time. So remember to tap into our professional network, we can all be a valuable resource for each other!