Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Minutes of ALLICE meeting 18th June 2008

Meeting held at :

Anthony Collins LLP 134 Edmund Street Birmingham B3 2ES

1. Planning a law firm library

Wragge and Co are moving offices in 2011 and Susanne Homer wanted to gather experience and opinion on how to plan a law library in an office move. She currently has 22 departmental libraries within practice areas and wondered to what extent firms have centralised their library services in the age of online information.

Martineau Johnson and Cobbetts (Birmingham & Leeds) have single centralised library services. Eversheds (Leeds & London) have a general reference collection in a central library and departmental subject libraries.
Eversheds (Birmingham) has a main central library in a separate building.
Anthony Collins has 3 practice libraries (related departments share a practice library).
Cobbetts (Manchester) has a central library with departmental subject libraries.

All firms have recently moved offices. Generally, fee earners prefer the decentralised approach where resources are on their desks, or at least close by. However, libraries are finding this might not be the most effective use of resources, particularly in the online information age. Choice depends upon priorities for your service. What do you want to achieve. How do you want to raise your profile? What space do you have within your office?

Members then discussed the pros and cons of print v electronic format for resources and how much duplication we have in formats. Some libraries have cancelled all print subscriptions where electronic versions exist and others have reduced print copy numbers to a minimum to encourage users to use the electronic version.

It was suggested that this would be an interesting theme for the next ALLICE meeting.

There was also discussion on the role of Professional Support Lawyers (PSL’s) in libraries and information provision. Some concern was expressed that librarians manage departmental libraries but PSL’s take the credit and that PSL’s do not have the information skills to run departmental libraries.

It was suggested this would be an interesting theme for another ALLICE meeting although it might exclude some members from non-firm backgrounds.

Members offered tips on planning an office move:

Be involved on the planning committee or be in touch with architects and designers.
Specify shelving requirements, e.g. height, depth, length, position in library, growth space.
Specify electronic and network sockets for PCs.
Employ specialist library removal firm.

2. AOB

Tricia asked for an update on Birmingham Law Society Library. Hazel has left the library, and it is now staffed on Monday and Friday only and is for reference only. Birmingham Law Society are discussing the move of their library to Aston University this autumn but it is unlikely that Aston will offer the same level and conditions of service. Caroline and Pat asked members to email them with comments, e.g. which resources are used, what services to keep, e.g. a postal lending service.

Adele Chapken has a friend (Carol) who is looking for administrative work in a library. She is returning to work after a career break. Please contact Adele if you know of any suitable roles.

The EIA training event is likely to take place in October. This will be a lecture style event, rather than hands-on, because of venues and costs. Details are being finalised, and will be advertised shortly.

No one applied for the ALLICE bursary this year. Committee decided to keep open for BIALL conference in Manchester in 2009.

Committee is looking for ideas for future ALLICE meetings, and is planning a summer social event.

Members requested an up-to-date members list, to reflect recent job movements.

Aine Astbury (No 5 Chambers) has returned from maternity leave and is working 2.5 days per week as a job share with Hilary Boucher.

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