Although we intend this blog to provide an update to news and services offered by the University which are related to the work of the Law Library, we also would like to let you know what we get up to in our work across the law library sector. Earlier in the summer I attended the British and Irish Association for Law Libraries (BIALL) conference. I was delighted to be awarded a bursary which meant I could attend with a funded place, and so I wrote up a short piece about my experience and the sessions I attended.
I was delighted to be able to attend the BIALL conference this year with the backing of the GlobalX bursary. As a massive Agatha Christie fan I loved the theme of Bodies in the Library and the event really lived up to my expectations! I enjoyed the parallel sessions on running online escape rooms – which has inspired us to create just such an event with our own library later this year – the courtroom presentation of online vs print resources, and the speakers from Parliamentary libraries. However my favourite speaker was definitely Greg Bennett of Goldsmiths, University of London, whose session ‘A new body, a new library’ spoke to both my interests and experience of working in the Sheriff Courts library service, and my time at the University of Edinburgh.
Greg told us how he’d built a legal library from scratch with a limited budget. He’d had to make tough decisions about which publications and resources were essential, and begged or borrowed withdrawn and duplicate items from other libraries. I recognised many of his struggles and viscerally felt the pain of some of the decisions he’d had to make as in my former role at the Sheriff Courts I was responsible for managing a collection across 37 library sites which had never been managed before! Greg was candid while reflecting on some of the difficulties of justifying his decisions to stakeholders who had only limited understanding of the massive task he undertook. He concluded with some realistic considerations of what will come next for his collection. I think everyone in attendance was astounded by how much he’d done with so little – as fellow law library professionals we could appreciate that his budget for the entire collection barely scratched the surface! I also found it cheering that I could so closely relate to colleagues from different parts of the world with different roles – the usual benefits of networking in-person reached me even in this entirely online event.
Overall I had a really positive experience at this year’s conference and I feel that the organising committee pulled out all the stops presenting a varied programme using an relatively new platform – EventsAir – which I know the University of Edinburgh has also been using for it’s Open Days. It was interesting to use it as an attendee rather than a staff member. I am grateful to have been able to take part in this online conference experience and look forward to my next BIALL event.