We heard at this conference from Fred Headon about the changing legal profession and from Gary Rodrigues, Robert McKay and Jason Wilson about the changing legal publishing industry. Annette yesterday pointed out we are the “meat” in this sandwich, and we cannot avoid change.
Many of us are already facing challenges with shrinking budgets and shrinking number of positions—in many ways we might say it is a shrinking profession.
We as professionals are most definitely NOT shrinking. Je suis confiante que nous répondrons aux exigences des années à venir. I have full confidence in the members of CALL/ACBD that we are ready to face the future.
So many of us are expanding our skills, knowledge and experience. Many are transforming our roles and making great leaps in our professional lives.
As you make the great leaps in your career, I ask those of you here today to make us a promise: to remember your friends and colleagues here at CALL/ACBD, to bring back what you are learning and enrich all of our understanding.
Write, teach, share with all of us.
During difficult times there is opportunity. Our organizations are working to find their way during this time of great change. We can take this opportunity to become leaders in Canadian law. Je suis convaincue que vous, les membres de CALL/ACBD, êtes prêts à envisager les défis que nous réserve le futur.
This is going to take pulling together, working in collaboration and coordination with one another. Je me réjouis à la perspective de travailler avec vous tous. We can do this!
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May 28, 2014
For my closing remarks, I’d like to make the following observations.
We have had a much discussion throughout this conference which is really about rebranding and reinventing ourselves as librarians. This is a question that our communications committee has also struggled with for the past several years – “what should our Association be doing to raise the profile of the profession?” The task seems insurmountable for a team of volunteers who have their own jobs to do.
As Greg Lambert tells us – a brand is how others perceive you.
Jerry McLaughlin from Forbes magazine writes:
“People are constantly forming perceptions. But we don’t have to leave the process to chance. Every day, we have opportunities to shape other’s perceptions. That is what brand building is about: the deliberate and skillful application of effort to create a desired perception in the mind of another person.”
What do we need to do to change the perceptions of our stakeholders?? We must start by SPEAKING.
Here’s a little example that hit home for me the fact that many (but certainly not all) of us in this profession, find it difficult to speak.
Did anyone else notice this - on Monday morning we had Mitch Kowalski in our plenary session with an incredibly thought-provoking session. At the end of it, we had 30 extra minutes, but I completely dropped the ball and closed the session early. Now – everybody knows me – I am a very bright person, extremely laid back and I take instruction well. However, instead of piping up and saying “hey Annette – can we ask some questions?” –there were 125 librarians in the room who said absolutely nothing. Instead, immediately after the session there was this little ripple of people saying, politely to me, after the fact – “oh that’s too bad that we didn’t get to ask questions…”
Let’s be frank - we are Canadians AND librarians – we are quite possibly the most polite and helpful group of people on the planet! We don’t want to hurt any feelings or rock any boats – we don’t want attention on ourselves.
This approach is fine when it comes to lots of things, but the ground is shifting beneath us and we can no longer afford to watch it happen from the sidelines. In today’s environment we MUST have the courage to seize the opportunity to make sure that our people in leadership roles don’t screw up on the things that really matter. We must recognize that we may only get one shot at this – if you let it go by, there’s always a chance that your decision about whether to speak or not, could determine the fate of your entire institution.
The people that we work with who are in leadership positions are humans trying to navigate some very difficult situations. Although there may be a lot of bad apples in the barrel, I truly believe that most leaders don’t want to make mistakes and they don’t want to make bad decisions.
Greg told us that these situations are actually opportunities for us. So we need to help them.
We need to have our finger on the pulse of the user, the internal and the external environments. We need to be vigilant about continuously watching for opportunities to demonstrate how the skills that we have and the services we provide are important, and as Mitch Kowalski suggests, should actually be a DRIVER for achieving the goals of the organization.
We need to use this information to continuously come up with new ideas, strategies and plans, we need to actively insert ourselves into the process and to feed our ideas up to our decision makers to let them know that we have ideas, we can see a better way forward, an alternative future; that we have a plan for getting there and the evidence to back it up. We can do this regardless of where we sit in the org chart.
If we do this, it is possible that we could positively influence the outcome, however, if we are silent, the outcome will certainly be decided for us.
Every day, we have opportunities to shape other’s perceptions.
On Monday, Eunice Friesen told us that a very important way to engage those whom we are trying to educate – is to create a connection with them. Let’s take her advice – at every opportunity, try to take a minute to tell them who you are, the services you offer and what matters to you.
Incidentally, creating connections and feelings associated with a perception is also an important aspect of a brand. If you look around the room at the people you admire the most, you will see that what makes them special is how they connect with those around them. Could this be part of what also leads to their success as professionals? Could they be using their connections to engage and educate? Do these connections result in an improved profile with stakeholders? Of course they do.
Every day, we have opportunities to shape other’s perceptions.
After this conference, I’ve changed my mind. For now – I think that we don’t need a rebranding strategy – we just need to SPEAK.
Think about it – we have a network of professionals from across the country who, combined,touch the legal profession at every stage in their careers.
What if every academic law librarian here today made a promise to our colleagues, that we will set the ground work for them; we will take every opportunity, whether it be in the classroom, or in individual encounters, to make sure that our fresh impressionable young law students are educated about how law librarians are critical to their future success?
From law student in school – to lawyer in a firm – to judges in the courts – to lawmakers and government – between us – we have access to these people at every stage.
To amplify our message we need to speak and we all need to commit to doing it at every turn. We can do this regardless of where we sit on the org chart.
Every day, we have opportunities to shape other’s perceptions
From this conference we also were reminded that what we do is immensely important in the lives of others and many of us are not just speaking for ourselves and our libraries – we are also speaking on behalf of access to justice, on behalf of people who need our help – think about our colleagues working with persons in prisons, and those who work in public legal education and with self-represented litigants…
It may be scary for some of us to start doing this, but if you find yourself waivering, just take a breath, pause for one moment, and think about the courage it must have taken for the aboriginal people to share the stories that we heard during Justice Sinclair’s talk yesterday. If they could find their courage to speak– then surely you can find yours.
I implore you, on behalf of the Board; a group of volunteers who are continuously looking for opportunities to raise the profile of the profession on your behalf, your colleagues in this room, the colleagues in your workplace, and users now and for generations to come – IT IS TIME TO SPEAK.