Doing More With Less: METRO/SLA Program, 1/21/10
Posted by fducataloger on January 26, 2010
On January 21, 2010, I attended the METRO/SLA sponsored program, “Doing More With Less: How to Maximize Your Resources and Increase Your Department’s Value and Visibility”.
There were three presenters for this program: Don McLeod, who works for a company called Knowledge Management, and has a law library as his current client, Happy Blitt, who is a librarian for a hedge fund company, and Kevin Reiss, the Systems Librarian at CUNY.
Don started the program by discussing metered resources such as WestLaw and Lexis Nexis, and spoke about ways to keep the costs of using such services to a minimum in a law firm. His first tactic was to “scare your users”. The company holds educational sessions for new lawyers joining the firm on how to do legal research, and they scare new hires by stressing how expensive these services are (so they must be used efficiently), and how users are being tracked and will be notified if their searches go over a particular dollar amount. Don works with Westlaw and Lexis Nexis to get daily stats that he can load into a spreadsheet. If a particular attorney goes over $1,000 in searches per day, he or she gets an e-mail pointing this out, and reminding them that there are other less expensive resources available, or that they can schedule refresher training for more efficient use of these services. He also put together a handout on cost-effective online legal research that he gives to all of the firm’s lawyers. (I have a copy of this handout that I can scan to PDF and e-mail to anyone who would like to see it). He also encouraged the lawyers to have the law librarians do the research for them, rather than trying to do it all on their own, and he and his staff would make rounds to the various offices regularly to see if any of them were having research difficulties. His overall message was that monitoring usage and continued user education about less expensive resources was his way of keeping expenses down for metered resources.
Happy Blitt talked about her company’s portal project. They sought to merge 5 services into one portal for more efficient use and updating of data, and to provide equal access to data across the company’s various locations (New York, London, and Hong Kong). The databases in question related to market data, company user information, vendor information, and customer information. They hired a consultant to help them put the portal together using Microsoft Sharepoint. Ms. Blitt and another librarian went for about 10 days of intensive Sharepoint training, and then worked with consultants to put the pieces together. A lot of effort was spent mapping information between databases (i.e., one might have said Standard & Poor’s, another might have said Standard and Poor’s, another might have said S&P–they needed to be one consistent name). They were able to put in a keyword searching feature, as the databases were only browseable by the first word of the name or title previously). Data was pushed to Sharepoint via FTP. They used a product called Longitude Connector for their contacts database, and this also provided faceted keyword searching and the ability to incorporate RSS feeds from outside sources. This wasn’t particularly relevant to anything we’re doing at FDU, though it’s good to have some vendor names and options if a particular project comes up.