By Alan Kilpatrick
On March 12, 2014, the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library launched the Legal Sourcery blog. The blog was an effort to better promote the library, market the library’s services and resources, and develop stronger connections with lawyers and the public. Four years later, Legal Sourcery has exceeded our expectations. With almost 1500 posts and 240,000 views, the blog has been awarded three Canadian Law Blog Awards (Clawbies) in 2014, 2015, and 2017. It has helped raise the profile of the library both within the Law Society and throughout Saskatchewan’s legal community, shape a visible and reenergised library brand, and position the library at the centre of legal information initiatives in the province.
How did you choose the name Legal Sourcery?
Coming up with the name was a collaborative endeavour. Our entire library team participated in brainstorming blog names. Our goal was to create a clever name that represented who we are, what we do, and the value we offer. The names we considered included Collawboration, Lawstronauts, Gopher Law, and Wind Chill. Ken Fox, our Saskatoon librarian, aptly suggested Legal Sourcery during the discussion. The team voted and decided on Ken’s suggestion. While legal resources are what the library provides, legal sourcery is the expertise, capability, and value we bring to legal information services. It’s the esoteric skill we use to help lawyers and the public navigate the depths of the legal resources jungle.
Why did you choose WordPress?
We decided on using WordPress after investigating the various blogging platforms available. WordPress is an excellent option for blogging. It requires little knowledge of coding, features professional templates, and is simple to use. It’s free and allows the user to join the blogosphere within minutes.
How do you monitor the number of posts and the content by contributors?
Our aim has always been to publish at least one new post daily in order to attract and retain readers. To meet this output, we designated one library team member, Kelly Chiu, to become the blog’s coordinator. Kelly ensures the blog is discussed at staff meetings, maintains a blog queue with content for the upcoming week, and prompts us when additional posts are required. Without a coordinator, Legal Sourcery would not have succeeded.
Our Director of Legal Resources, Melanie Hodges Neufeld, maintains oversight and approves all posts before they are published. She works hard to attract guest contributors for the blog from the Law Society, the Saskatchewan legal community, and external organizations
Since first launching Legal Sourcery, the entire library team has committed to writing regular posts on top of our assigned duties. Traditionally, library staff have written the majority of posts that appear on the blog. However, this is now changing as the number of guest contributors has increased in recent years.
What challenges have you encountered?
Creating and maintaining quality content with a limited pool of writers is inevitably challenging. Attracting guest contributors is key to combating blog burnout and fatigue. Initially, we found it difficult to attract guest contributors or to convince people it was worth their time to write for a blog. As Legal Sourcery has achieved more popularity and recognition, it has become easier to attract guest contributors. Thankfully, this has reduced the burden on library staff to produce daily posts.
What are your most popular posts?
A few facts and figures from Legal Sourcery:
- Total views to date: 238791
- Total posts to date: 1458
- Legal Sourcery’s first post: Welcome to Our Blog!
- Legal Sourcery’s top post: Cross Referencing Footnotes in Word, April 29, 2014 (25126 views)
What are your future plans for Legal Sourcery?
At first, our goal with Legal Sourcery was to advertise the resources, projects, and expertise the library offered, in one central place, to Saskatchewan’s legal community. However, over the past four years Legal Sourcery has evolved into the central hub for all legal news relevant to the Law Society, lawyers, and the public in Saskatchewan. The 2017 Clawbies panel explained:
The pride of the Law Society of Saskatchewan, Legal Sourcery continued its top-quality blogging in 2017 with a steady stream of useful content … While strictly speaking a library blog, this really could be seen as the go-to source for Saskatchewan legal news.
The blog now regularly disseminates information about the Law Society, legislative updates, news and events relevant to lawyers, free legal clinics, and content from external organizations like CanLII. For the past two years, Legal Sourcery has been proud to serve as the official blog of Saskatchewan’s annual Access to Justice Week.
We intend to continue this evolution and to promote Legal Sourcery as the premier source of legal information in Saskatchewan. Stay tuned for future developments.
Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Here are some tips for aspiring legal information bloggers:
- Think about your goals and audience. Understanding your goals and who you are attempting to reach will shape your blog’s development.
- Coming up with content for posts is not difficult. Follow lawyers and legal information professionals on social media, the blogosphere, and listservs. What you learn can be repurposed into blog posts. Take the time to write about the interesting things you are working on.
- Promote your blog on social media and via word of mouth. I often let our users know about the blog during conversations at the reference desk and refer to it while responding to research enquiries.
- Common sense is key. Keep posts professional, pay attention to spelling, and be cautious when writing about controversial issues. Always consider how a blog post will reflect on your larger organization.