The Power of Connection

Suzanne B. Corriell
Associate Circuit Librarian, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit Library
This year’s AALL Annual Meeting theme of “The Power of Connection” was exactly what I needed as I transitioned to a new role in a federal court library.  Our library has embarked upon the strategic planning process, and several of the programs that I attended tied in closely with our overall endeavor to raise our visibility and better demonstrate our value to our stakeholders.  

Gail Johnson and Pam Parr from Face to Face Communications and Training led a session on “Take Control of Your Reputation.”  The good news: law librarians don’t have a bad reputation; the bad news: we don’t HAVE a reputation!  Their advice: don’t become obsolete or let others define your reputation for you.  Be adaptable, be positive, be humble, listen, and laugh easily; credibility, believability, and demonstrated expertise will build a positive reputation.

“Economic Value of Law Libraries – Raising Awareness, Raising Value” discussed the insights from the 2015 AALL Economic Value of Law Library study.  Success is dependent upon visibility within the organization – relationships matter, and it’s important to meet with stakeholders often (and hopefully in-person) in order to give reports and updates on what the library is achieving.  Get your stakeholders to consider the “contingent valuation” of the library – what if services weren’t offered?  How much would that cost the organization?  Know your audience and speak their language, while showing your commitment to the organization.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation conducted a return on investment study in 2013 and presented some of their findings and advice in “Proving Your Library’s Value: Tips from a Library That Has Done It.”  This built upon some of the reporting recommendations from the prior session: be persistent with your management to be at their meetings and get on the agenda, and seize any opportunity to talk to your stakeholders or get feedback from users.  When crafting a report, be comprehensive, but be sure to include an executive summary – get their attention.  

In addition to the educational programs, being able to meet with numerous other federal and court librarians was invaluable.  Joining the newly renamed Government Law Libraries SIS was a particularly helpful way to network and connect with new colleagues.  The Third Circuit libraries in downtown Philadelphia held a reception for all of the circuit library personnel attending the conference – this was a wonderful, informal way to chat about our unique circumstances and share ideas.

Thank you to VALL for providing me with a generous grant to attend this year’s annual meeting.  Being able to meet in-person with those that I regularly speak with, in addition to connecting with others in the federal judiciary was a great experience – and maintaining those relationships to share ideas will enable me to better serve my library and its users.

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The Virginia Association of Law Libraries (VALL) supports and serves its members’ professional pursuits by fostering a spirit of leadership and cooperation, providing educational and leadership opportunities, and promoting and enhancing the value of law libraries.

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