Tag Archives: Technology

Using Tech to Make Tenure


Like many academicians, librarians in academic environments also go through a promotion and tenure process. Deborah Tritt of the University of South Carolina Aiken and Kaetrena Davis Kendrick of the University South Carolina Lancaster presented their Guide on the T&P Side: Using Tech to Make Tenure at the 10th annual Metrolina Library Association Conference. They shared a number of great no-cost tools that anyone could use.

As a side note, the Association of College and Research Libraries supports tenure track academic librarians. Two websites of interest: ACRL Joint Statement on Faculty Status of College & University Librarians and ACRL’s Guideline for the Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure of Academic Librarians.

Rule 1: Stay Focused

These tools can help you achieve that objective. Part of the process is writing narratives. Take chunks of time to work on the project.

eggtimer  E.gg Timer. E.gg Timer.com is a simple countdown timer. Set the timer for a specific amount of time like 25/5 minute cycles and focus on the work for that amount of time before taking a break.


noisli  Noisli is a background noise and color generator for productivity or relaxation. There are background noises like White noise, Rain, and Coffee Shop. I am listening to birds singing and water in a babbling brook. Now it’s thundering. I am switching to the coffee shop to wake up.  Noisli also includes a distraction-free Text Editor as well as a timer.

coffivity  Coffitivity is another tool that streams the sounds of a coffee shop. The site claims research showing moderate ambient noise helps enhance creative cognition. You can even choose from different types of cafes. I am hoping the University Undertones helps me get this blog post written.

rainymood Rainy Mood is a rain simulator. You can even add their recommended mix or one from You Tube. Today’s recommendation is Rainy Mood + Beethoven. It’s very pleasant.

momentumMomentum through Chrome Web Store is a tab homepage replacement. When you open the tab, it asks you to type in your focus for the day. The photography is awesome.

Rule 2: Keep Yourself Organized

kanbanflow  Kanbanflow is a project management tool. The Kanban board provides a way to have an overview of your current work and collaborate in real-time. Kanban can also use the Pomodoro technique of working with full focus for 25 minutes before taking a short break. Then you repeat the cycle.


trello Trello is a board with lists of lists filled with cards used by a group or on your own.


milkRemember the Milk is an on-line to-do list. This tool was one of the first.


wunderlist Wunderlist is good for a grocery list and to set due dates and reminders.


Rule 3: Keep Everything

evernoteEvernote is a good tool for collecting information off the internet like a web article, handwritten notes, or photos of your projects.

googledocsGoogle Docs is a way to create and share online documents, spreadsheets and presentations.


dropboxDropbox is a secure file sharing and storage solution. Dropbox is great for collecting your work and using it on various computers.


zoteroZotero is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It is good for information management in that you can store articles.


Rule 4: Track Everything

academiaAcademia.edu is a free platform for academics to share research papers and get feedback on working papers. Academia provides in depth analytics and statistics.

researchgateResearchGate is a like a social networking site for researchers to share papers and find collaborators. The site provides statistics on downloads and citations.

journoJourno Portfolio is a platform geared to journalists to capture their writing and photographs. JP also tracks how many people visit the site, how long they spent there, and where they are located.

digitalcommons Digital Commons is a hosted institutional repository that some universities and law schools use.  According to their website, DC hosts everything from faculty papers, student scholarship, and annual reports to open access journals, conference proceedings and monographs.

figshareFigshare is another open repository where research documents can be uploaded and the site makes research “citable, shareable and discoverable” while also creating a DOI.

googlescholarGoogle Scholar Citations is a way for authors to track citations of articles. Through Google Scholar Citations, a researcher can check who is citing your publications, graph citations over time and compute other metrics.

Other Tools for Keeping and Tracking Scholarship Activity

preziPrezi is free presentation software that uses motion, zoom and spatial relationships to add to presentations.



screencastScreencast-O-Matic is a free screen recording platform that comes with statistics. It can also be added to academic.edu.


googlefusionGoogle Fusion Tables is a data visualization application to gather, visualize and share data tables. The presenters use Google Fusion Tables for reference analytics.


wordpressWordPress is an open source blogging and website content management system. It also provides analytics about who visits the site.


Most tenure and promotion processes require candidates to provide justification and evidence of the academic activities such as librarianship, teaching, scholarship and service. These free tech tools can help in sharing activities, collecting metrics, and organizing files for anyone.

~Betty Thomas~

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Links We Love Weekly Round-Up — January 18, 2016

weeklyroundupSpell-Checkers Won’t Catch These Usage Bungles

Rigorous lawyers should be sticklers for detail. After all, they’re supposed to be professional writers. Yet lawyers often relegate the important task of catching misspelled words to their electronic spell-checker. Worse, some lawyers use words they’re unsure about given the context of the sentence, and let their grammar-checker render the final usage verdict.

Our Top Legal Technology Tips from 2015 [podcast]

In 2015, we were introduced to a plethora of tools designed to make lawyers’ lives easier. However, not every legal professional has the same technological needs, and not every lawyer knows how to find the most useful tools for him or herself. In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell ring in the new year by sharing their favorite apps, websites, gadgets, and technology advice of 2015.

Roberta I. Shaffer Named Law Librarian of Congress

Acting Librarian of Congress David Mao has named Roberta I. Shaffer Law Librarian of Congress, effective Feb. 21, 2016. Shaffer had been serving in the position in an acting capacity since Oct. 5, 2015, and had served previously as the Law Librarian of Congress from August 2009 through November 2011.

Throwing Bodies at the Problem

“Nine women can’t make a baby in one month.”

Google Had a Major Core Ranking Algorithm Update this Past Weekend

Google has pushed a core ranking algorithm update over the weekend. Did you notice ranking changes with your websites?

David Bowie: The Internet Pioneer

David Bowie is best remembered for his music – but he was also groundbreaking in his use of technology, not least his internet service, BowieNet, which launched in September 1998.

Free Tools to Organize Your Law Practice

Just before Christmas, Microsoft announced that they were going to start rolling out a program as a new perk to the Office 365 plans, called Planner. Yesterday, I logged into my account to see that I had finally had Planner added to my account. Now that I am familiar with how to use it, I want to show you how I plan on using it in my practice and how I think other people can use it in different legal environments.

Professors Share Passion for Music in Band “The Innocent Bystanders”

When they’re not teaching the next generation of great legal minds, four professors at San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law are rocking out with their band: “The Innocent Bystanders.”

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In a Tech-Saturated World, Don’t Forget the Importance of the Human Element…

Source: Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

It seems like every time I turn around, there’s a new task that can now be automated or outsourced or a new program that can do what I do accurately and in half the time. Sometimes it’s easy, as a technical services librarian, to get a little concerned about my job security. What place DO we have and what role CAN we serve when computers and technology keep on finding ways to do our jobs better and faster?

This concern isn’t limited to technical services librarians, of course. I think we can all find similar feelings within ourselves, regardless of our positions or our industries. We may even feel it in our personal lives.

So 3 Geeks and a Law Blog hit the nail on the head with their recent post, What Are Humans Good for… in Legal Services?, and I was reminded that there’s no need to fear. I can do something a computer can’t do – and that’s be a human. I can relate to other humans in a way technology never can, meaning I can more effectively generate ideas, solve problems, strategize, persuade, argue, tell stories, and most importantly, collaborate with others.

Other recent posts have backed up this idea:

Robert Oaks, Chief Library and Records Officer for Latham & Watkins LLP, states “It’s not about the library. It’s about the relationship the librarian has with those who do or could benefit from the library.” View the library as a service, not a location, and shift your perspective and role to be more proactive and prescriptive. You know who finds it challenging to be proactive and prescriptive? That’s right. Computers.

A recent survey of faculty and academic librarians done by the Library Journal and Gale shows that there’s a disconnect between faculty and librarians, and suggests that you need to ingrain the library in campus culture, actively participate in student education, and seek out opportunities for engagement with teaching faculty. You know who doesn’t oftentimes seek out opportunities to further engagement with others?  Technology.

The library sector is changing under out feet, and this blog post, by Rebecca Jones, offers 4 ideas to “rewire” our thinking.  My favorite one is “The Intelligent Organization of People is Key to Success.”  Again – it’s not the power of our technology and our ‘stuff’ that defines our success as librarians.  It’s the ways in which the human dimension works that defines a library’s success.

Want ways to help the human component, even while leveraging the best parts of connecting through increased technology?  Check out these tips to improve collaboration among remote teams, by Mike Gilronan, where he lists five clear cut to-dos.

And have you realized that technology alone will not make us more efficient and can, at times, make us less focused and therefore less efficient?  Technology can actually make us less useful.  Collaboration is what leads to efficiency, and this posting by Mark Hunter reminds us that fostering collaboration requires both a shift in culture and in the way we do things.

And finally, here’s an interesting combination of out-sourcing and in-sourcing that gave a future-proof strategy to one law firm.  “People get the answers they need, better and faster.” It’s not outsourcing to machines, but outsourcing to expert PEOPLE.  Again, people are the key to successfully serving others.  Not just the technology.


~Ashley Moye~

TSLL TechScans is “a blog to share the latest trends and technology tools for technical services law librarians.”  This content was originally posted on TSLL TechScans and is reprinted here with permission.

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More Advice from “The Reference Desk” – Technology Skills

“The Reference Desk” is a regular column featured in the AALL Spectrum.  The column below originally appeared in the Sept/Oct 2015 issue and is reprinted here with permission.

What goes into developing a technology skills course for law students? Are there opportunities to teach these skills in private and government law libraries, as well? Attorneys are tasked with understanding the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, and, according to Susan Catterall, law librarians are in a position to provide that knowledge.

Q: My academic library director oversees IT as well as library operations. I would like to propose a technology course to the curriculum committee—one which might involve co-teaching with members of the IT staff. I’m not talking about Microsoft certification, but my library colleagues and I have seen too many students who don’t know how to create a PDF document or manipulate an Excel spreadsheet. I’m concerned that there will be push back, not only from our overworked IT staff, but also from the faculty because the course will be more of a skills course than a doctrinal course. Do you have any suggestions?

A:Yes, you definitely should propose the course. Technology skills are emerging as critical “practice-ready skills,” in part due to the upsurge in the number of attorneys who have gone solo or who work within small practices. These practitioners are responsible for the equipment and software needed to support the business of law. Today’s attorney needs to familiarize himself or herself with e-filing, e-discovery, cloud computing, and litigation support products, for example. In addition to the regulations that dictate document retention, there are potential privacy and metadata issues affecting the dissemination of information and security issues that may impact attorney-client privilege.

The American Bar Association has recognized the role that technology plays in the practice of law, and, in 2012, its House of Delegates amended Comment 8 to Model Rule 1.1, which addresses attorney competence and strongly encourages attorneys to keep current with relevant technology. Attorneys are tasked with understanding the “benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” By now, at least 13 states have adopted a technology competency rule.

This requirement begs the question of how attorneys are supposed to acquire this knowledge, and that burden seems to be shifting to law schools. If it provides any comfort to you, your school wouldn’t be the first to offer courses focused on technology skills and law office management. Some trailblazers have been offering courses for decades and have honed sophisticated syllabuses. This means that you can tap into the collective experience of those who have gone before you. Your timing is great, and there is so much low-hanging fruit that your major challenge may be one of focus.

Creating a technology skills course can easily become overwhelming. Start by determining the needs of your students. The concerns you previously addressed are similar to those identified by Casey Flaherty, who, as corporate counsel of Kia Motors American, Inc., developed a basic technology competency audit, now referred to as the “Kia Audit.” He found that many lawyers were unable to efficiently use Word, Acrobat, or Excel.

As librarians, we are dedicated to helping each other as well as our clientele. We are able to turn to each other for advice and assistance. In this instance, I turned to Katie Miller, Research & Instructional Technology Librarian at Florida State University’s College of Law Research Center, for advice.

“Our students studying in the library were asking for help with things like creating PDFs or manipulating data in spreadsheets,” Katie told me. “After conducting enough one-on-one trainings in our offices, we decided to try to include some technology topics in our lunchtime workshop series. Now those workshops are being developed into a technology skills course for our students. If there is not support for an entire skills class at your school, start small with some seminars or workshops. Try offering to teach some basic law practice technologies identified by the Kia Audit to clinics or journal students. This would highlight the proactive skills and responsiveness of the library staff.”

Another way in which we librarians shine is in providing our patrons with the tools for self-sufficiency. We don’t just give a man a fish; we teach him to fish. The American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center has some great primer tutorials, as well as other resources. Likewise, many local bar associations have similar resources.

You were specifically inquiring about a “for credit” law school class, but there are also opportunities for private and government law librarians. Within firms, the library and IT personnel should work together to provide ongoing instruction to attorneys and staff members. Similarly, government librarians should be proactive in partnering with in-house IT staff members and local bar associations to create training and CLE opportunities. Consider your first effort to be a work in progress, and be willing to evaluate your efforts and build upon them.

Good luck.

~Susan Catterall~

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Links We Love Weekly Round-Up — August 31, 2015

weeklyroundup60 Nontraditional Jobs You Can Do with a Law Degree (and should strongly consider doing)

In my career spanning more than two decades as an attorney and legal recruiter, I have met an astonishing number of people who have chosen nontraditional legal careers. With very, very few exceptions, most of these people are far happier than they ever were practicing law. A good number of these people who left the legal practice also make more money in their new professions.

Law Firm Librarians: An Under-Utilized Resource

There has been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere and twitter this week about the Bloomberg Law article “Law Firm Librarians Feel Underused and Underpaid” and the accompanying survey.

Owning Our Authority: Tanya Geisler at TEDxlsfeldWomen

Tanya Geisler is a Toronto-based certified business and life coach and catalyst. She wrote The Joy Pages, created Board of Your Life and speaks with great passion on all things joy, meaning and purpose. Her talk explores the space between the continuum from Imposter to Authority.

Research Reveals Link between LSAT Prep and Brain Improvement

Neuroscientists from the University of California at Berkeley have found that the structure of the brain is changed microscopically by intensive prep for the LSAT. The change in the brain actually strengthens the connection in the brain that is responsible for reasoning.

How to Locate a Published Congressional Hearing: A Beginner’s Guide

In 1947, aviation and film industry executive Howard Hughes testified before a hearing of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program. The hearings that followed were contentious, with the committee investigating Kaiser-Hughes Aircraft for receiving taxpayer dollars for aircraft that were never delivered, including the flying boat called the Hercules, also known as the Spruce-Goose…

My Final Blog Post: by Brian Mathews

May 22, 2006. That’s when I started The Ubiquitous Librarian Blog. I wrote before at Alt-Ref where I explored new approaches for reference and instruction. But I felt too boxed in. Ubiquitous gave me freedom to roam.  It ends today. Right here. 407 posts…

Could You Handle These Interview Tasks? (Some Are Pretty Crazy)

Interviewing at Google has become something of a legend in job-hunting circles.  The company realized early on that it didn’t necessarily just want the right person for a particular job description, it wanted the right person for Google. Because the company places a premium on employees who will move up within the company, they wanted to hire for the right personality more than the just the right skills for any particular job.

Teaching a Class Again

We never teach the same course twice. Some of the changes are out of our control: new students, new classroom, new time. A move from early morning to late at night can change the whole feel of a topic, while a group of students with strong camaraderie might take on collaborative assignments very differently from a group that includes many non-traditional students or a range of disciplines. And of course when technology is involved, the foundations are likely to shift every semester: even when I teach courses that seem to have the same name, the platform, scripting languages, and digital landscape changes so much in the course of a few months that I am always re-inventing.

Thinking Outside the Cube

How offices will change — for better and for worse.

Forensically Beta

Forensically is a set of free tools for digital image forensics. It includes clone detection, error level analysis, meta data extraction and more.

Pre-ILTACON: Interesting Times

Lawyers who entered the profession when the standard means of production were a dictaphone and a dedicated secretary will, without any sense of irony, EMAIL me to tell me that technology has no impact on the way they practice law. One of the most underappreciated characteristics of technology is how quickly it can be assimilated into the ‘natural’ order of our lives.

Best Way to Take Notes in Class Isn’t on Your Laptop, Research Finds

The research is clear: Typing out your notes results in decreased comprehension of lecture material.

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