Monday, March 31, 2014

Post from the Outgoing Chair of PATLIB UK

Today's posting is a much belated post (blame the current chair not the outgoing one!) by Maria Lampert the outgoing chair of PATLIB UK who has steered the ship for a number of very successful years and is now moving on to bigger and better things at the British Library.

Thank you to Maria for all her hard work, dedication, enthusiasm and for passing on the Pink Pig of Power!

She will be sorely missed, so without further ado I give you Maria.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye!

When I was asked to write a post for the PATLIB blog as out-going Chair I thought great, I am sure I can find something to say. Well, the first attempt challenged War and Peace for length and the second wouldn’t have been out of place in one of those warts and all magazines! So, leaving out all the boring procedural bits (sighs of relief from everyone in PATLIB UK), and also leaving out all the ‘what happened’ at Conference stories (sighs of relief from anyone who has ever been at a PATLIB Conference with me!) I apologise in advance for my offering.

When I was asked to join the Patent Information Network (or PIN as it was known then) as the British Library’s representative what seems like a long time ago I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I found was a group of dedicated library staff from library’s up and down the UK all working to one end – to bring Intellectual Property information and, more importantly, understanding of intellectual property, to the general public. That hasn't changed.

The way we work has though, we've gone from patents on micro fiche and hard copy editions of the IPC with its accompanying Catchword Index, to desk top computers and  CD-ROMs, and finally, to the many and varied electronic IP databases we have at our fingertips today. We had to train ourselves in all this new technology before we could help the public. Like swans calmly floating on the surface of a lake whilst furiously paddling underwater we try to keep abreast of the swiftly changing patent information landscape whilst confidently assisting our users on their journey to patent their inventions, or not as the case might be. The inventors that used and continue to use our facilities rely on us to help them not make that often costly mistake of trying to reinvent the wheel and I am sure you will agree that every inventor we have stopped from wasting time and money on an invention that already existed was and is as much a success as the ones we have helped take their ideas to grant.

What fun we have all had!

With so much intellectual property information being freely available via the internet the needs of our users have changed and what we have to offer our users has had to change to meet those changing needs. We now offer workshops and clinics and various guides and factsheets all written by PATLIB staff and, more recently, we are all branching out looking at ways to help the would be entrepreneur in setting up their business. The BIPC blue print roll out and the BIPC Wiki will go a long way to ensuring that we are all offering similar services to our users. The Standards and Constitution that all of the PATLIBs signed in 2007 now needs updating to allow for all of the changes in the way we work, the facilities we have to hand and what we are going to offer our users and I know the new Chair, Luke Burton, is already working hard on the amendments.

I think the signing of the Standards and Constitution in 2007 is one of my proudest moments as PATLIB Chair. Stef Stephenson from Leeds, Christine Brown from Manchester and I spent very many hours perfecting the document and we sent it out to all 13 PATLIBs, if I am honest, not really expecting every library to sign it but hopeful they would none the less. And they all did. The decision to band together and self regulate was a first for any PATLIB Network Worldwide and we were approached by the EPO PATLIB Committee who asked if they could have a copy of our Standards and Constitution with view to rolling a version of it out to the rest of the networks.

Other high points include the opening of PATLIB Cymru in Llandudno Junction and PATLIB Manchester hosting the PATLIB 2012 Conference. The speed networking event we held in the Renaissance Hotel during the conference was a first for many of our European PATLIB colleagues and was talked about for a long time afterwards. The visit to Man United’s Old Trafford football ground was a high point of the conference for all the footie fans. The low’s? Well, there weren't many except perhaps PATLIB Bristol withdrawing from the network.

I have truly enjoyed my time with PATLIB UK and am grateful for the help and support I have received from all of you, but a special mention has to go to Stef Stephenson without whose assistance my work as Chair would have been that much more difficult.

So I am handing over the responsibility for representing PATLIB London to my colleague Philip Eagle, who will I know bring a fresh viewpoint and fresh ideas to the network, and I am handing over the Chair to Luke Burton of PATLIB Newcastle from whom you can expect great things. I will still be working at the British Library and my contact details remain the same so you know where I am if you need my help at any time.
In the words of another perhaps more famous Maria (yes, believe it or not there is one!) “So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, goodbye!”…….for now anyway.

Maria Lampert

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