Monthly archives: June, 2006

A Cup of Creativi-tea: How To Enhance Your Next Meeting

Terri Wilson is a solo librarian at the law firm of Underwood, Wilson, Berry, Stein, and Johnson, PC in Amarillo, Texas. She has a BFA in Theatre from Eastern New Mexico University, an MFA in Theatre from Texas Tech University, and an MS in Library & Information Science from the University of North Texas. Prior to becoming a law librarian, Terri was a paraprofessional for six years in the reference department of the University Library at Texas Tech. And prior to that, she explored a cornucopia of employment positions while a laboring as a struggling actor (emphasis on the struggling part). Terri has recently started a blog for creative ideas for librarians.

A Cup of Creativi-tea: How To Enhance Your Next Meeting

by Terri Wilson

Published June 18, 2006

We’ve all been in those meetings where it was a constant fight to stay awake until the bitter end. We’ve all run those meetings where a request for input was met by the chirping of crickets. “Bueller? Bueller?”* But it doesn’t have to be like this. With the exception of the strictly information dissemination meeting, people meet in order to exchange ideas, work on projects, plan strategies, and the like. In other words, meetings are meant to involve active participation. Tapping into participants’ creativity can make these meetings more productive, and dare I say it, maybe even enjoyable. As every actor knows, you have to have the right props. Starting with a comfortable room. (Ok, that’s more of a set, not a prop, but let’s not ruin my metaphor.) If you have a choice, be picky about your meeting room. Some seem to be continually climate-challenged, ranging from sub-arctic temperatures to stagnant swamps of heat. Some are cramped and some have the most uncomfortable chairs in the building. Ideally, you want an appropriately sized room for the number of people who are meeting, that has a reasonably controlled thermostat, and comfortable chairs. It would be even better if the seating was informal, such as couches and armchairs. But if you’re restricted to standard business furniture, at least try to configure the room so that people are sitting in a circle or square, either around a table or not. Avoid the long table with the chairperson at the head or, worse yet, classroom seating with everyone in neat little rows and the chairperson at the front of the room. The less formal you make the setting, the more likely your participants will be to open up their minds and “play” a little. Now the props. It may sound hokey, and you may even have laughed that sarcastic little laugh the first time someone brought these to a meeting, but toys, snacks, and brightly colored writing implements jumpstart people’s creativity in no time flat. A basket full of simple dollar store toys will suffice. Puttys, clays, spongy balls, and blocks can keep hands busy while the wheels in their heads are turning. Stay away from any toys that make sound, puzzle toys that are too engrossing, or balls that will spend half their time rolling onto the floor and across the room and create more distraction than innovation. Snacks need to be simple as well. Bite sized candies and crackers are good, as well as raisins or nuts. Have a variety so that those with a sweet tooth and those who can’t or won’t indulge in sugary treats will have something from which to choose. And last but not least, for us rabid doodlers, crayons or colored pencils or markers. The colors stimulate the imagination, and you may even see people start to visualize their ideas on paper before they offer them vocally to the group. To further stamp your meeting as open to creative minds, consider starting off with an icebreaker. It could be a creativity exercise like everyone writing down and then sharing the top ten places in the world they would visit if money was no object. Or a competition of who can draw the fastest stick figure house with the winner getting to keep one of the toys on the table. An icebreaker can help loosen everyone up and encourages people to forget about the events of the day and get into the groove of the meeting. These examples presuppose that you are the one leading the meeting. If you’re not and you have a comfortable relationship with the person who is, share these suggestions with him or her and offer to help set things up. If you don’t feel that you can influence the way the meeting is run, then bring something to the meeting for yourself. A squishy ball or a bright marker can help you keep yourself engaged. And who knows. You might even start a trend. A creative one. *Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Dir. John Hughes. Perf. Matthew Broderick. Paramount Pictures, 1986.

Subjects: Library Marketing, Meetings

After Hours: Literary Lunch

Kathy Biehl’s food writing has received awards from the Association of Food Journalists and the Houston Press Club. She writes philosophical essays (heavy on cellular memories and old-fashioned candy) for My Table, has covered food for Diversion magazine and Family PC, and spent almost nine years as the anonymous dining critic for the Houston Business Journal. She has reviewed restaurants as well for the Houston Press, Time Out New York, My Table and the TONY Guide Eating & Drinking 2000. She is also the author of the Research RoundUp and Web Critic columns, co-author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Internet Research, and an attorney admitted to practice in Texas and New Jersey.

After Hours

Subjects: After Hours, Book Reviews

FOIA Facts: The Return of the Backlog

Scott A. Hodes is a sole practitioner in Washington, D.C., practicing Information and Privacy Law. Mr. Hodes assists clients in gaining access to government records under the FOIA, Privacy Act and other federal agency access provisions. Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Hodes was an attorney at the Department of Justice for over a decade. He served in the FBI’s Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Section from 1998 until 2002 as the Acting Chief of that Section’s Litigation Unit. Mr. Hodes served at the Department of Justice’s Office of Information and Privacy from 1991 until 1998. His website is , and he is a member of the DC and Maryland bars.

FOIA Facts

Subjects: E-Government, Freedom of Information, Government Resources, Legal Research

The Tao of Law Librarianship: The Truth About Blogging


Connie Crosby is Library Manager at WeirFoulds LLP in Toronto, Canada. She is a regular contributor to Slaw, a co-operative weblog about Canadian legal research and information technology, writes her own self-titled blogs for law librarians. and is the Canadian correspondent on Jim Milles’ law library podcast Check This Out! She is Co-Chair of the Northeast Regional Law Libraries Meeting to be held in Toronto – October 17-21, 2007, and currently serves on the Executive Board of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries.

Subjects: Blogs, Information Management, Law Firm Marketing, Law Librarians, Legal Profession

Faulkner’s Practical Web Strategies for Attorneys: How to Select a Website Designer

Frederick L. Faulkner IV is the Webmaster of the American Bar Association. Fred discusses the “big picture” regarding the Internet, marketing, and business at his website, From the 21st Floor.

Link to archive of Faulkner’s Practical Web Strategies for Attorneys

Subjects: Faulkner's Practical Web Strategies for Attorneys, Law Firm Marketing, Web Management, Web Site Evaluation