Are you future ready?

Sara Batts considers how SLA's 2011 theme of 'Future Ready' can be translated to every day practical activities.

SLA has taken 'Future Ready' as its theme for 2011.   What does it mean to be 'future ready' as an information professional?'  And how do you translate an ethos into practical action?  Those are some of the questions that are being answered by the daily posts on Future Ready 365, gathering thoughts and opinions from SLA's global membership. The diversity of opinions is what makes it interesting.

Here's one very practical example. From my role as a legal information professional, with training as part of my responsibility, future-readiness is expressed in our work to understand the needs of new trainee solicitors arriving at the firm.  If we were to continue with the same approach to our library inductions as we'd always used, I think we'd be failing to get our messages across.  The much-discussed Millennial generation has brought its own approaches to the workplace and this impacts on their use of professional library services within their firm.  

In the legal world, there are often very clear right and wrong answers; equally there are efficient and there are inefficient ways to go about researching a question. We want to make sure that we're adapting to how our users are approaching their tasks so that we provide them with the relevant support they need.  If we're not alert to those differences, we're not being future ready and our relevance as trainers and trusted advisors is diminished. We build relationships as well as impart technical knowledge with our trainees.

So what does that mean for my skill development? Am I dumbing down?  Not at all. I'm thinking of new ways of presenting information to the new trainees - more focused, more relevant, more entertaining: we need to impart the same technical information, but the way it's shared can change without altering the content.  I'm talking to more people - from our LPC (legal practice course) providers to our trainees' supervisors about how we can best support the next generation of lawyers.

Sara Batts is senior research librarian in the London office of international law firm Reed Smith LLP and a part-time research student at Loughborough University. Sara is currently president of SLA Europe. She blogs on professional life and related issues at

Photo courtesy of O Palsson via Flickr.


For further insight on 'Millennials' see

or PwC's presentation at