Event review: BIALL 2013 | SLA Europe

Marie Grace Cannon and Anneli Sarkanen were 2 of many SLA Europe members who attended the annual BIALL conference, set this year in Glasgow. A number of our members were kindly invited to present at the annual conference, and Marie and Anneli share their experiences of the SLA Europe presentations that they attended.

Marie Cannon’s reflections

Myself and Sam Wiggins were kindly invited by BIALL to co-present a parallel session on new professionals in the legal sector. The title of our session From Academia to the Office: New Professionals in the Workplace reflected our goal to provide practical advice using our own personal experiences on how to manage New Professionals. For example we covered which training courses we had attended and how they had (or had not) been beneficial, to what extent our library qualifications had helped us in our current roles and how we had both gained so much by volunteering for professional bodies. In addition to using our personal experiences, we had also conducted a survey to see what people thought of new professionals; including what they thought a new professional was, the perceived advantages and disadvantages to hiring a new professional, whether they thought their own library qualification had adequately prepared them, whether they expect their staff to be members of professional bodies, and what skills would they would look for if hiring a new professional. For the results of the survey, please click here to access the full slides from the presentation.

Annual dinner at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery

Annual dinner at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery

We ended our presentation a little unconventionally, having volunteers from the audience summarise our presentation for us by playing Battledecks. There was an automated sequence of picture slides that linked to something we spoke about in our presentation, and the volunteers had to say as much as they could remember about it. This ended our session on a high note, and the tone it set led to some heated and very interesting discussion on how the rise in tuition fees will affect the number of new professionals wanting to enter the information profession.

I was fortunate enough to stay for the whole of the conference, and I most thoroughly enjoyed myself. I would like to thank BIALL for hosting such a fantastic and well-run conference. In addition to the conference sessions, what I particularly enjoyed were the social events and dinners – at one point, I even found myself playing a tambourine next to a Scottish drummer! As a new professional myself, the numerous networking opportunities were particularly valuable, and I got to meet a number of lovely people who I hope I will continue to get to know better at future events.

Anneli Sarkanen’s reflections

With Marie and a few hundred other information professionals, I attended the BIALL conference in Glasgow this year. Whilst I was there to gain additional knowledge to add to my CPD, I was also there as vice-chair of the PR & Promotions Committee. In absence of the chair of a committee, the vice-chair can attend. This would mean answering any relevant questions raised in the members’ Have Your Say session, attending the Strategy and Finance Committee meeting, attending the AGM and reporting anything on anything additional to BIALL Council, if required.

P1040867I also had the task of dispatching our press releases on award recipients to awaiting journalists’ inboxes. At the Annual Dinner on the Friday evening, before we were entertained by the Scottish drummers and piper (and Marie with her tambourine!), a number of awards were given out, namely: Wildy Law Librarian of the Year (to Catherine McArdle), Legal Journal of the Year (to Property Law Journal) and Supplier of the Year (to Wildy & Son legal bookshop). The next morning, with a borrowed laptop, these were sent with the hope they would be reported on in the various publications.

It was also on this Saturday morning I attended the talk by SLA Europe’s president Stephen Phillips. It was very well timed, with Stephen speaking after Sarah Fahy of Allen & Overy about presenting a business case and the two talks complimented each other very well.

Stephen PhllipsStephen spoke on “Defining Value: Rethinking your position” and gave the audience an insight of his role at Morgan Stanley and his experience of demonstrating value. He spoke of the metrics he gathers and how this is translated to his stakeholders in the language they understand – “demand” is used over “number of enquiries” and “assets under management” for the databases and resources they manage. He presented the BIALL delegates a graph showing the demand for his team’s services sitting alongside the number of hours they worked compared to the number of M&A deals Morgan Stanley had done over a 10 year period. This graphical representation of metrics gave context to the work he was doing and how the BIS team is positioned in line with the direction of the business.

Stephen also discussed about using your advocates in proving your value – they are your allies when you need to present to leadership. Use storytelling as a way to bring people in and communicate this value – but do remember to keep it short – you may only have 20 minutes with management. Stephen noted an acronym he heard at the SLA conference in San Diego: KISS – Keep it Simple, Stupid! But he himself prefers KISSES: Keep it simple, smart especially short!.