October 29, 2010
Evolution Can Be a Bitch
Hey, I'm only quoting from a heading used in a Nov. 2010 AALL Spectrum article. It must be OK to use the B-word when AALL publishes it, right? The article, Hula Hooping with the Alphabets, outlines differences and similarities between Gen Xers and Gen Yers. "Both groups have joined their elders in the workplace and share the same ambitions and aspirations with the same energy as the boomers who set the precedent in earlier days." Ah, those earlier days... .
In what to my mind is certainly a comment on Greg Lambert's post, This Isn't Your Daddy's Law Library! - Time For a Law Library Revolution!, comes this snip:
There are those of you who think of knowledge management (KM) and competitive intelligence (CI) as lost skirmishes, but there is also truth in the saying that sometimes we lose a battle but not the war. Both KM and CI have a new suaveness, not just for attorneys but also for their law firm clients, as they affect cost and profit.
There is always a new frontier to forge and to conquer. For example, what about the law firm workflow process and, more importantly, government risk compliance? Doesn’t the library touch both? We house the regulations and monitor the new sources, so why are we not part of these processes? What better way to elevate the library than to make it the research regulatory center?
Make the law library the what? Greg, buddy, but not bastard son (echoing AALL use of the B-word for PC CYA both sexes, if not gender ID, purposes) you are a BigLaw librarian circa-now. Perhaps you can explain "research regulatory center" to this rapidly aging and decrepit Boomer BigLaw librarian circa-1980s. I lived through the identity crisis when law libraries became legal information and/or legal research centers so I've got plenty of experience with the whole "center" thing and it's not that I think this is a bad idea per se. But what the hell is a research regulatory center?
I have to say this is one of the oddest AALL Spectrum articles I've ever read. It's almost stream of (un)consciousness in its references to farming, war, and IKEA. Yes, IKEA.
When you buy a drill from a hardware store, you are not paying for a drill but rather the opportunity to make holes. While the initial purchase price is high, a drill is one tool that can be used to make many holes—and there is considerable value in this. But do we really need an overly full toolbox? Do we need to pay heed to the salesperson trying to fill that toolbox with items we don’t need? Can anyone say IKEA?
The IKEA quote immediately preceded the KM-CI-"research regulatory center" snip quoted from the article and this entire discussion was under the heading "So…IKEA Anyone?"
Then it dawned on me. You see, the author of this AALL Spectrum "Perspective" piece is Linda G. Will, owner of Will Legal Resources (or Will Resources) in Minneapolis, a consulting firm, who was a Thomson Reuters consultant in 2009-10 and law firm librarian from 1994 to 2008 [Linkedin profile]. The last time she appeared in a Spectrum article, it was one she co-authored for the Sept./Oct. 2009 issue with Michael Orrick, then VP of Law Firm Markets Sales & Account Management, West North America Legal, entitled Leveraging the Synergy of the Librarian and the Vendor. LLB post re same here. To the best of my knowledge, meaning I'm not wasting any time researching this, Will is probably the only person who got a 2-fer from AALL -- two articles, not columns, published in AALL's best print ad revenue generator, Spectrum, in the last 12-13 months.
And then this strange little AALL Spectrum article starting making sense. You see, as I was reading this article, one question kept nagging at me. Why the parenthetical in one sentence in the second paragraph which opened an article that kept refering to we as in "we as librarians"? (That's a direct quote.)
[L]aw librarians are at a “tipping point” of significant change, and those in leadership roles (including vendors) are wondering which way it will tip.
Talk about "hula hooping;" research regulatory center - high purchase price of a drill - smaller toolbox - IKEA - very expensive vendors - harvesting (farming) - competition (war). Now, that's the hula hoop graphic that should have been used in this article by the editors of our association's magazine. Brilliant; can't wait for Will's next AALL Spectrum article to appear I guess right about this time next year.
NB: I'm not saying or implying Will's latest Spectrum article was associated in any way with TR Legal; her paid-by-TR Legal 2009 Spectrum article was like a laser pointer hitting points on a marketing agenda. This one is more like a floodlight, certainly less focused on any discernable agenda. Consultants, particularly ones who self-identify as a "writer on legal information" publish to get business. Alternatively, perhaps Will really was doing a "we as librarians" think piece, perhaps even churned out because Spectrum editors asked for it. Who knows... .
But until the next article, I don't think we're talking about "affordable solutions for better living." Hell, I don't think we are talking about affordable "research regulatory centers" either. But we most definitely are talking about software apps with and without utilization of the e-law content inventory provided by legal professional service vendors like both TR Legal and LN. All things considered, by which I mean LAW.GOV, evolution can be a bitch. [JH]