By Alan Kilpatrick
This year’s Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) Conference featured an exciting new conference session, lightening talks. A lightening talk is a short presentation ranging from five to ten minutes in length. During lightening talks, speakers concisely present information about interesting projects, research, or ideas in the law library field. Given the short length, speakers must present their information quickly.
Alan Kilpatrick, the Law Society of Saskatchewan’s reference librarian in Regina, presented a lightening talk about the library’s successful blog, Legal Sourcery. The talk was titled Legal Sourcery – Blogging in Law Libraries. Please find a transcript of Alan’s talk below.
Legal Sourcery – Blogging in Law Libraries
Good afternoon everyone, my name is Alan Kilpatrick. I am a reference librarian with the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library in Regina. I am pleased to be here today to speak about blogging in Law Libraries.
We launched a blog in early 2014 called Legal Sourcery, one of our ongoing efforts to promote the library and its services. Now, a year later, Legal Sourcery has over 500 posts and 58,000 views. We have won a Canadian Law Blog Award, known as a Clawbie – an award that recognizes excellence in Canadian legal blogging.
Most importantly, Legal Sourcery has raised the profile of our library among the Saskatchewan legal community more than we imagined. This has allowed us to engage our membership and to shape an exciting new brand for the library. This blog is one our most successful efforts to reimagine what a library can do for its users. How did we do it? How can your library do it to?
Creating a Blog
Creating a free, professional looking, blog is easier than ever these days. We created Legal Sourcery with WordPress. WordPress requires no knowledge of coding, features attractive templates, and is easy to use. It only takes minutes to join the blogosphere.
Coming Up with a Name
Next, we came up with a blog name. Coming up with a name is an enjoyable and creative task. The entire staff was involved. We wanted a name that represented who we are and what we do at the library. Putting our thoughts together, we decided to call it Legal Sourcery. Legal resources are what the library provides, but legal sourcery is the skill and expertise we bring to legal research and resources.
Other names we considered were Collawboration, the Lawstronauts, and Lawly Pop. You can let me know after the talk if we made the correct choice on the name.
The Blog Team
Legal Sourcery is a team effort. We have eight amazing staff at the library. On top of our assigned job duties, we all write regular posts. Writing interesting content relevant to our members is time consuming. A committed team of contributors is what it takes to succeed. Luckily, we have a team of passionate legal sorcerers to rely upon.
Developing a blog strategy is key. What we do with Legal Sourcery is draw readers in with fun posts and then hopefully convince to them to eat their vegetables, that being the reading of the more educational legal research and resource posts.
Our fun posts, the Monday News Links, Throwback Thursday, and the Grammar Posts from the Editor tend to be the most popular and well read. The educational posts, like the Friday Legal Research Tip of the Week, are less popular. Our hope is that the fun posts are going to be enough to convince our members to read the educational posts.
To keep readers coming back, we publish at least one new post daily. Our target is one substantial post or two insubstantial posts a day. The blog is discussed at every staff meeting and we have designated a staff member to be the blog coordinator. The coordinator cracks the whip to make sure everyone is on task.
Readership is high among some surprising demographics. At a recent CBA Saskatchewan Meeting, I was surprised at the number of mature lawyers that came to speak to us. They were impressed with the library for taking the initiative to create a blog and were avid followers. I assumed the blog would be popular among younger lawyers, I did not expect it would be such a hit among mature lawyers as well.
Here is how we have approached building readership. Do not discount the effectiveness of word of mouth promotion. I often let members know about the blog during conversations at the reference desk.
Recent posts are featured in the weekly email the Law Society sends to all of the lawyers in the province. We usually see a spike in views when the email is sent out to the membership.
We also promote Legal Sourcery heavily through Social Media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. With Twitter, we have created a hashtag, #LegalSourcery.
As Legal Sourcery continues to become more popular among the Saskatchewan legal community, its role is expanding beyond its origins as the library blog. It is becoming the central hub for everything relevant to the Law Society and the Saskatchewan legal profession. The blog’s success has actually convinced the Law Society to expand its social media presence. We hope to expand the blog’s role further by beginning a series of posts featuring interviews with lawyers and judges.
Legal Sourcery is facing a variety of challenges. Readership initially was high, but now, a year later, it is starting to level off.
Writer burnout is the biggest challenge we are encountering. Even with a team of eight writers, it is becoming tougher to write daily posts. It is increasingly difficult to create quality content with our limited pool of writers.
We have tried hard to attract guest bloggers. We have had some success attracting other law librarians and lawyers in the province to write posts for us. We hope to add public librarians to our list of guest contributors in the future. Though, it is proving very difficult to attract guest bloggers.
Thank you for listening to my talk today. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.