For those of you that aren’t regular readers and found this blog post from the Library Day in the Life wiki, a little back story…
I was an academic law librarian for a little over five years. I was very happy in my career, but in retrospect, things didn’t always…fit. Then one day out of the blue, John Mayer offered me a job as the Director of Content Development at the Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). Actually, it was a lot like Charlie’s Angels except John doesn’t send me out on secret missions where I have to dress in elaborate costumes and then beat people up.
I’ll leave it up to you, Gentle Reader, to decide if I’m still a librarian or not. I feel like what I do in my job furthers what are (or should be) the one of the ultimate goals of libraries and librarians (i.e. making information available and accessible) and I also use more of my librarian hard skills (e.g. knowledge of information containers and needs of users) than I did as an “official librarian”, but I also feel very disconnected from Libraryland. As I mentioned in my year in review wrap up post, I lost my tribe last year and I’m still struggling to figure out where exactly I am welcome and who my people are. I notice on the Library Day in the Life Round 8 List that just about 1% of participants work for a vendor or publisher so maybe I’m not alone in my struggles.
As in past years, let’s start from the very beginning of my day. To wit, I wake up. I’m still not a morning person and I still greet each morning and the fact that I must get out of bed as an unspeakable tragedy. After a quick check of email and slug of coffee, I start my day. One surprising benefit of my new job is the wardrobe. All my previous jobs were business casual at a minimum and on days I taught I aimed for professorial. Now…I basically have to be clothed. It’s amazing how the freedom to wear jeans to work makes mornings so much easier. (And on days where I’m not quite feeling well or have things to do at home? I can telecommute. SCORE.) I rely on public transportation for my commute – which was a huge adaptation – but I’ve now got my system down where I know when I have to leave the house to get to the train station without having to rush.
I hate having to rush.
Especially in the morning.
After a (leisurely) 20 minute walk and 17 minute train ride then a 5 minute walk, I arrive at my office. I’m still not really awake at this point and would just assume avoid all human contact, so I hide in my office and check my RSS feeds (which cover web 2.0 news, education tech news, legal information blogs, AALL listservs and some library blogs) and my twitter feed. I had a hard time at first deciding if it was appropriate to spend time at work doing this – when I was an academic librarian I chalked it up to “professsional literature” time. But now I realize that I still need to stay up to date with trends and news in these worlds so that my employer can direct its activities accordingly.
As for the rest of the day, it depends. I have some pretty divergent job duties and I’m like an iPhone…I do one thing at a time and do it well but trying to run multiple things at a time…just isn’t a good idea. So to pick one day and just list its activities wouldn’t quite be a full picture. The following are all activities that I did during the Day in the Life Round 8 week, grouped roughly by subject.
CALI Lesson Editing/Sheparding
The product that my employer is most known for is its lessons. These are written by law professors and librarians and cover a wide range of topics. They act as study aids and course materials/supplements for law students. I oversee the Legal Research lessons, which are about 15% of the total amount of lessons we offer. I didn’t realize how much quality control was done on these lessons until I had to do it. This week I…
- Received reviews from our editorial boards of some lessons that are in the pipeline. We use an anonymous peer review system, so I went over the reviews, stripped out identifying details and sent them on to our authors.
- Prepped some legal research lesson proposals for initial approval and review. We have rounds of legal research lesson proposals and one ended on Friday, February 4. This led to a flurry of activity in talking to prospective authors, making sure their proposals had all the required parts and then getting them posted to an internal site where a committee of law librarians can review and offer comments on them. (I’ll have to being the process of trying to organize a conference call with 9 people on Monday.) Some proposals are accepted, some are accepted with proposed revisions and some are rejected with encouragement to resubmit with changes. It’s definitely not a cake walk to be able to author a lesson for us. If lessons are accepted, I’ll draft a contract and send it off to the author.
- Wrote up and sent off a contract for a lesson revision, which was the culmination of a process similar to the above, but not quite as arduous.
- Processed a contract from an artist that we use to create the drawings you see in the lessons. If you ever want to see them, as part of the contract CALI puts a creative commons license on them and then posts them to flickr for anyone to use. Check them out and help yourself.
That’s pretty much all I did in the Legal Research lesson area this week. Some weeks if I have a new lesson coming in I do a review of them for content and then send my remarks to the author for either required or suggested changes to the content of a lesson. If it’s a lesson towards the end of the editorial process, I go through the lesson’s images and contact the copyright holder of them (for example, screenshots of a Westlaw database would be owned by Thomson Reuters) and ask for permission to use.
People think it’s a new function of CALI, but really the eLangdell open publishing project has been going for about six years now. I actually spent a large amount of time working on eLangdell stuff this week. Generally, my part of our production process is to take the manuscripts towards the end of the production process, after they’ve been checked by an outside proofreader for grammar and punctuation, and do the transformation from MS word doc to the formats we distribute in (more about that later) and do clean up of them in these formats. This week was a slight change in that. So this week I…
- Spent A LOT of time editing an epub manuscript. For various reasons, we don’t have this manuscript in word, so I’m doing both the grammar/punctuation/bluebooking editing as well as the physical editing of the code so that it works right in various electronic formats. (No hanging or missing tags, links work and go to appropriate sources, etc.) I am not a natural grammarian OR bluebooker, so it’s taking me some time to work my way through it.
- Put the finishing touches on another manuscript and got it posted to our “bookstore.” I get really excited every time I release an ebook into the wild. There’s definitely something to be said for producing an actual “product” that is much more satisfying than answering a reference question that may or may not help. This particular publication was about the Rape Shield Rule in evidence and I’m not going to lie…I am really glad to not have to read the details of rape cases anymore as well. That really put a damper on the week.
- We’re really committed to “open” at CALI and that means we make our books available in as many formats as possible…even print. Printing ebooks sounds counter-intuitive but part of being a technologist is making sure that the technology is not becoming an barrier to the information. We’re in the process of setting up a store at Lulu so that people who absolutely want print versions can get them at cost – we’ll receive no profit from this. (I got to see beta versions of this and they look really good!) But this leads me to my point…when you work for a publishing company, you have to think about EVERYTHING as part of constructing books and ebooks. In this case this week, it was…”oh. If we’re doing this in print, where should be put page numbers?” PAGE NUMBERS. Who’d have thunk?
- eLangdell is really a team effort and so every week we have a conference call with “Team eLangdell.” Even though we constantly email and IM each other (or in the case of Austin and Deb, we just pop into each other’s offices..but still mostly IM), it’s nice to take an hour a week and touch base and sort things out. One library centric topic of discussion was how to get eLangdell titles in library catalogs and whether or not libraries would want to purchase physical copies or store electronic ones in IRs. So I still have meetings…but just an hour a week. HA!
Community outreach/education (and Booth Bunnying)
When I was offered my job, John made it clear that I could still be in AALL and should still be active in the profession. It’s good for me to stay involved with what the trends in librarianship are and that makes it good for CALI because we can adapt accordingly. I’m not going to lie..there is a slight marketing benefit to me being out and about, but as I said in my Booth Bunny post, this ain’t Glen Gary Glen Ross here. I don’t want to cross into creepy treehouse territory with my conference presentations, so basically as part of my own personal code, I only mention CALI products in presentation if I would have anyway. To that end…
- I have two conference presentations in March. I’ve been in denial about such things but I promised myself that as soon as February got here, I would start thinking about what exactly I was going to say. I have an idea, but am still very much in brainstorming mode. When I pick a powerpoint background is when Things Get Going. I also really need to book my travel, but I am terrible about doing that.
- I am also a lecturer in CALI’s Topics in Digital Law Practice MOOC. I am REALLY in denial about planning for that. I only have a half hour for the topic of “free legal research” so…yeah. I’m torn between doing a straight skills lecture or bringing in some of the history and challenges of the free law movement.
- Agreed to do a workshop on ebook production at our conference in June.
- Submitted a volunteer form for AALL committees. I cut down on all of my professional activities and committees when I started at CALI because I wanted to get my sea legs and wasn’t sure how much time I had to devote to such things. I still don’t have a lot of time, but the committees I volunteered for seem like they would be a good fit between my professional and personal interests. We’ll see if I’m picked, I guess. At least I don’t feel the desperation of “I need this for my CV!!” like I used to back when I was an academic. No matter what, I still am in the Library Consumer Advocacy Caucus, although not as active as I was.
In there I spent an entire day stuffing envelopes with our CALI awards. This is normally a student worker job, but we’re currently inbetween workers and in a small organization (just 7 employees total) everyone pitches in and does what needs to be done to makes things run. I never think myself too good to do any type of work – I dusted books, rewired study carrels and picked up used kleenexes filled with mystery substances when I was a practicing librarian, so stuffing envelopes is nothing. And it gave me a nice opportunity to zone out and think about my presentations.
So that’s pretty much it. Am I still a librarian? I don’t know. But if I’m not, what am I?
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhoweaa/