Sarah Palmer, Research Specialist, American Bar

Name/Title/Organization: Sarah Palmer, Research Specialist, American Bar
Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center
Title of promotion/campaign: Technology Translators
Goal of campaign: The Legal Technology Resource Center of the American Bar
Association assists attorneys by helping them solve the technology puzzle. We provide
information about the latest technology trends that attorneys can utilize to more
efficiently practice law. We can began to realize, however, that while we were producing
content for our website about technology for our 400,000+ attorney members, the staff of
the ABA was not being educated about new technologies. As librarians we are lucky that
a by-product of our job is education about the improvements in online technologies, but
others do not have the time, or librarian’s curiosity, to wade through information to
educate themselves.
The LTRC decided to create a campaign called Technology Translators which would
provide the ABA staff an introduction to new trends such as social networking, RSS,
blogs and any other technology trends that people need help understanding. This way if
an ABA member asked an ABA employee about RSS feeds, for example, the staff
member would know what an RSS feed was and, more importantly, might be using that
technology to help them with their job at the ABA. Not only are librarians good
researchers, they can also be good trainers and have the ability to distill complex topics.
That was our goal for beginning this program.
Date Occurring: The program was launched on Friday, March 2, 2007 with a program
titled “RSS: What is it and How do I use it?” to an enthusiastic staff audience. The
program will continue monthly on the first Friday of each month. The next session will
focus on the benefits of using Adobe Acrobat. Other upcoming topics include better
searching using Google, an overview of technology terms and an advanced session on
Steps taken to achieve goal: The LTRC developed a list of possible training topics and
presented them to the CIO for approval and support. Once the first program was
developed an association wide email was sent to staff to invite them to the training.
Who was involved: The staff of the LTRC created and presented the presentation. We
also worked to create excitement about the program by directly contacting staff people
we know to make sure they would attend. The ABA has offices in Chicago, IL and
Washington DC and we utilized our videoconference equipment so both offices could
participate in the presentation.
What was produced: The Technology Translators is an hour long live presentation.
The first 30 minutes is an introduction to the concept using a Power Point presentation.
The second 30 minutes consists of real time demos. We find that doing and showing
makes a powerful impression on people who are unsure of their tech skill level.
Demonstrating applications in real time, as people are asking questions, helps diminish
the fear of technology.
What was the Result/Impact: The Technology Translators program has 3 positive
1. The staff of the ABA learns new skills and is introduced to services and products
they may not know about or use. Librarians are familiar with the concept of the
Digital Divide which is generally used to reference those who don’t have access
to technology. Well, there is the “Too Much To Do At Work” Digital Divide as
well. If a person’s job does not bring them in contact with a new idea, or they
don’t have time to add a new technology to their skill set, they are getting left
behind as others move forward toward Web 2.0 and beyond. As librarians we get
excited about new ideas, and offering training for our staff lets us share our
knowledge and, at the very least, make sure they know what new technology
terms mean.
2. The staff of the LTRC, all librarians, is now seen as a resource for information.
Because we are a staff of 3 in a larger IS department we have had a challenge
educating our fellow ABA employees about the services the LTRC provides for
ABA members. The staff assumes we are IS employees and does not realize we
are librarians. These in-house trainings provide us the opportunity to speak
directly to ABA staff to encourage them to keep us in mind if they receive
technology questions from their members. We market our research services and
also remind ABA staff that we are available to speak at their events and write
articles for their publications.
3. The topics for Technology Translators are not only specific to ABA staff. The
sessions will cover information that can benefit an ABA staff person or an ABA
attorney member. The staff of the LTRC can re-use content from the Technology
Translators to create information for our website which is aimed to members. We
can also explore different ways to present new technologies to user groups. The
Technology Translators programs will not be presented once and forgotten
because we are looking into recording them for an online training library, or as a
topic for a CLE program for attorneys or even as an idea for an article for
At the end of the first program we handed out evaluations that included a question about
the pace and information provided. The overwhelming majority of the audience said the
presentation was “just right”. What a great feeling for a librarian when you know your
message is being understood. Additional education for our staff and marketing for our
department is a powerful, and exciting, combination.
Sarah Palmer
Research Specialist
Legal Technology Resource Center
American Bar Association
Chicago, IL 60610