Slow reading, and legalese

So, it seems we’re all finding it difficult to concentrate on reading large amounts of text, and getting more easily distracted from….oh, shiny thing!

Ahem…yes, so…I suppose the techniques frowned upon by the Oxford History professor in the article may well be naughty to use when trying to study and analyse literature….but in legal research, they’re a godsend! Databases may well throw up hundreds or thousands of hits when you search for a specific term. Once you’ve narrowed it down a bit more, you’re still left with dozens of articles and cases to wade through. And nobody’s ever claimed that legal language was snappy, or easy to skim.
The ability to go into these items and search for a specific word is great: by being able to find words instantly, and get some understanding of their use in the case or article through looking at the context, discarding irrelevant items is a much faster process.
I’m not a lawyer: I don’t necessarily always understand exactly what it is I’m being asked to find, and despite being a naturally fast reader, I can’t dedicate hours and hours of time to fully go through each article or case that may possibly be relevant to get to that level of understanding. Looking for key words helps me narrow down the material, meaning the lawyer gets what they need, faster.
So yes, slow reading’s a good thing, in the right situation, but reading legalese is already slow enough – I’m taking all the help I can get with that!

West librarian email update

Information Overlord kindly pointed me towards Wests reply to the staggeringly badly thought out “Librarian name” marketing email.

Wisely, they’ve put their hands up and confessed to being *rses, and apologised. A good response, but why did a massive (I believe, I’m not overinformed on the US legal information suppliers marekt) company whose focus is on supplying information to legal and information professionals, ever think that it would be ok to insult the best informed sector of their users?
And who authorised that email going out? Did they look at it and go “Yup, that’s just the tone we want to set!”
Apparently, it “won’t happen again”. I’m just surprised that it happened at all.

How to insult your users

Well, West (the American parent of our UK Westlaw) seem just about ready to start giving classes in “simultaneously patronising and insulting some of your core users”.

Sarah Glassmeyer posted this screenshot to Twitpic of a West email to its users.
Shall I explain why I find this to be hugely insulting? Well…. do West understand who the biggest users / on site trainers / troubleshooters / BUYERS of its products are? Have they ever actually met a librarian, or do they still think all librarians wear half-moon glasses / twinsets / pearls / sensible shoes / their hair in buns? I suppose we should be grateful they didn’t throw in a clipart library matron, or something about keeping te noise down too. And do they really think it’s a good idea to imply that knowing a colleagues name in another department, who’s there to do expert research work to save that fee earner valuable time, is beneath the dignity of a fee earner?
Sigh.
*Written by the librarian who has short hair, no glasses, no pearls, twinsets or other librarian clothing, and who has never told anyone to shhhh in her life. And whose colleagues DO know her first name, cos, y’know, I’m a real person, and it’s my job to do the research work*

Any UK public librarians feeling helpful?

Sarah Hammond, an MA student, is researching the world of UK library blogging, and is trying to compile a comprehensive list of UK public library blogs.
She’s going to post the results on Delicious, with the username Public_biblioglogosphere, and has kindly agreed to allow me to add the results of her work into the overall UK library bloggers wiki.


She’s also doing her dissertation on the UK biblioblogosphere, and has set up a survey for UK public librarians to fill in here, if they’re feelingĀ  nice. It should only take 10 minutes, and will give you an inner glow of happiness for being so lovely šŸ˜€