Doing More With Less & Wearing Multiple Hats

by Sandra Dunbar, RIPS-SIS Annual Meeting Grant Recipient

We live in interesting times, and today was an interesting day. Though I work for a medium sized law firm (120ish attorneys in size offices, located throughout the state of Illinois, so it depends on who you ask), I’ve leveraged public and children’s librarian skills in the last few days. Last week I provided a link to a website with a great eclipse animation. Type in the name of your location, hit the start button, and the animation will show you what the eclipse will look like in your location, as well as the times of start, end and maximum eclipse.

Friday I was given responsibility for obtaining 135 moon pies, enough so that everyone in this office could enjoy one. Today I arranged an informative email about optimum viewing times, if the rain stopped and the clouds parted, and announced the availability of those moon pies for consolation or celebration, depending on the weather.

Like others, I am grateful to RIPS for making it possible to attend AALL this year through a travel grant. I would not have been able to attend without it.

I heard and learned to interesting things while at the conference. Sunday evening I returned to my son’s home (where I stayed), and was talking about the keynote speaker – Bryan Stevenson, how his talk was both moving and appropriate. My son replied, “Oh yeah, I’ve listened to him on NPR.” What a pleasant surprise.

Another conversation was less so. At a meeting that I moderated I heard rumors of a new Lexis policy – if LexisAdvance is not renewed, then Matthew Bender print will not be available. A similar question popped up today in the PLLIP-SIS space. I would hope this was not true, though the first source seemed to be experiencing this. It seems counterproductive as a marketing tool. Not to mention possibly an antitrust violation of some sort.

Another librarian spoke that her library and librarians were being subject to Conflicts and not allowed to work on some matters due to having performed research for other matters. This has real possibilities for reducing my workload since there aren’t any other librarians at my firm.

Conversations with a vendor rep and friend at AALL provided the impetus to implement a long delayed rollout of a desirable product at my firm. Then I discovered that the firm’s spam blocker was preventing the delivery of this product to our attorneys. I worked with our IT department to whitelist the vendor, but 4 days later, still no product. I contact IT again, and within minutes the attorneys’ inboxes were bombarded with back-email and instead of pleased, excited patrons, I had an angry swarm of annoyed attorneys asking that the product be shut off.

I’m not sure what the solution is – we are constantly challenged to become more secure, to protect our clients and we are assailed at work and at home. Our firm spends substantial funds to keep us safe and to meet client expectations, not to mention the time, energy and frustration.

The other overarching theme that I heard at AALL was doing more with less, doing the work of two or three people. This theme crosses all boundaries – academic, firm, government, and vendor. And not what I hoped to hear.

Then I spent a vacation day assisting my daughter in organizing the library in her school. She teaches special education. But now she is also the librarian at her school. And she has a lunch hour to monitor. And she’s coaching scholastic bowl.

I suppose we’re all being asked to do more with less and wear quite a few hats – no matter the library.


About Jamie Baker

Jamie Baker is the Interim Director of the Law Library at Texas Tech University School of Law. She also teaches Civil Trial Research & Academic Legal Writing, as well as sessions in the Legal Practice program and Excellence in Legal Research program. She blogs at
This entry was posted in Issues in Law Librarianship, Issues in Librarianship (generally) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Doing More With Less & Wearing Multiple Hats

  1. Scott Frey says:

    “I suppose we’re all being asked to do more with less and wear quite a few hats – no matter the library” – and no matter the profession. See, e.g.,

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