David Whelan

Explorations with information and technology.

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A law library director is a bit like a train engineer. The future is ahead of us, on the rails on which our train runs. It is a flight of fancy to think a library can go in any direction. Funding, guild pressure, legislation. We all have constraints that make it difficult to change course and leaving the tracks isn’t
Continue Reading Create a New Track

It has been 18 months of working from my home. I don’t really think of work-life balance because work is part of life, something I enjoy, and necessary to pay the bills. But I noticed that a computer screen can only hold so much of my work AND the other parts of my life at any given time. It got
Continue Reading Work / Life Profiles

We are experiencing new challenges as we try to re-open law libraries and have staff access physical spaces. One thing I had not anticipated was how much we would rely on technology to enable it, and how little concern for equity there seems to be in doing so. Our need for normalcy should not create new barriers to information access
Continue Reading Tech Inequity

Librarianship is the art of intermediation. Sometimes more, sometimes less. A key law library service is document delivery, which involves a negotiation between the recipient and the library staff. Those negotiations became more common and more complicated during the pandemic. It highlighted some opportunities to improve our document delivery decision-making by looking at where it ran into copyright limitations.

Continue Reading The Limits of Copyright

One of the most useful sessions I attended at the virtual AALL conference this year was on rural legal service delivery and “legal deserts.” One of the speakers, Dr. Lisa Pruitt, described a fundamental challenge for legal service delivery. In my mind, it overlaps not only a service challenge for law libraries but perhaps a fundamental purpose without which
Continue Reading Awaken a Need for Legal Information

I’m going to tell a story on myself. Our kids fall about laughing when it comes up, which, inevitably, it does. I enjoy crafting things. I’m not great at it but I’ve gotten better and, as you do, over time, you add new tools and techniques. When I was building foam knight’s armor for a Hallowe’en costume, I decided to
Continue Reading 101 Uses

I submitted a video to the AALL Innovation Showcase this year. It was a good chance to stretch and, who knew, perhaps win something. I didn’t – the well-deserving winner was ReviewIt – but still had a lot of fun creating an entry. I’ve fiddled around with video editing a bit over the years but this was the first time
Continue Reading Behind the Camera

Are you there? There’s a good chance that you and I are not reading these words at the same time. We engage in a lot of asynchronous activity once we leave grade school activities like reading together. At work, we may tend towards synchronous activity and communications again because we’re all in the same place. It may not be all
Continue Reading Mindful Presence

The inability to work from a physical location designated by our employer is coming to an end. Our law library will probably reopen in October and I’ve spent the last couple of months thinking about what we should keep from the pre-COVID times and what we should toss. I’m not fully there, yet, but I have spent a lot of
Continue Reading Out of Control

You’re not paying to read this blog post. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the experience of people who visit this site. Also, I’m an inveterate experimenter so I like to stay current on web technology and trends. Recently, I’ve been revisiting the page load speed and whether I needed to continue using Google AMP. I decided that
Continue Reading Stoked But Not Amped

I was talking to a law librarian about career plans recently. One of the challenges of any librarian is the one about whether to go into library management. You may be able to make more money and there may be a status change. But it’s also a swapping of subject matter expertise. A law library director can spend very little
Continue Reading Muddle Management

Law librarians can sometimes feel like miracle workers. We find things that others can’t. That’s called expertise even if the result for the person wanting information seems magical. As we’ve worked from home, that merger of magic and expertise has appeared in technology too. We can take vital technology for granted and ignore things that are working because they don’t
Continue Reading Magical Me