Guide on the Side – The Story of Storyboarding – Part 1: The Law Library as a Motion Picture

Marie Wallace made the transition from an academic to a private law librarian in 1971 and continued in the private sector until her retirement in 1995. She continues to be active in continuing education for private law librarians, and has been a moving force behind the creation and maturation of three programs:

*Practicing Law Institute’s programs and Course Handbooks on Private Law Libraries, 1977-
*Southern California Association of Law Libraries Annual Institute on California Law, 1972-
*TRIPPL (Teaching Research Instruction in Private Law Libraries), 1990-

She has written about private law library management in numerous journals including:

*American Lawyer Management Service
*California Lawyer
*Database End-User *Lawyer Hiring and Training Report
*Legal Information Alert
*Legal Administrator
*Legal Assistant Today
*Legal Economics
*PLI Course Handbooks on Private Law Libraries

Storyboard Overview
Wayfinding: Human Perceptions & Orientation
Helpful Hints for Storyboarding
The story of storyboarding is best told as a trilogy. It starts with Leonardo da Vinci’s using cartoons to illustrate his ideas. Centuries later cartooning was revitalized by Walt Disney to evaluate ideas for movies and animated cartoons. In the second part, Disney and Mike Vance, a Disney colleague, saw that storyboarding could be adapted effectively for business planning in a mode they termed “displayed thinking.” In part three, architects applied visuals to “wayfinding,” an architectural term of art referring to the process used to orient and navigate.

The trio of storyboarding techniques fall out by the type of people using it:

  1. Film industry – Sequenced frames like a comic strip used to compress plot, characters, setting and point of view for movies, videos, animated cartoons, multimedia and commercials
  2. Business and politics – Displayed thinking for group problem- solving and strategic planning
  3. Architects – Helping people to find their way in man-made environments
All three types contain similar design elements:
  1. Sequencing
  2. Visuals
  3. Framing
  4. Storytelling
  5. Displayed thinking
  6. Compressed ideas
  7. Universally understood language

The title of Harry Forsha’s book on storyboarding, Show Me, epitomizes all three in a single phrase. I met Harry as a result of reviewing his book (Business Information Alert, v.7, no. 4, p. 7, April. 1995) and participated with him in Jim Norman’s 9th Annual Storyboard Conference. This year at Jim’s 11th Annual Storyboarding Conference, “show me” continued to be a theme. One of the participants noted that more and more young adults do not read to take in new information. It is not that they are unable to read but that they avoid text–if there is a visual option.

This is valuable information for law librarians who are making presentations to younger audiences, designing home pages for younger users, teaming with younger professionals in other departments, and making business proposals to younger decision makers. The MTV Generation grew up on “show me” information. It helps them deal with rapid change.

Professionals are increasingly expected to work in interdisciplinary teams. Storyboarding techniques allow them to interact with others outside their own area of expertise. Storyboards, as used in the film industry, are a portfolio of sketches which briefly tell a story to a production team. Storyboards are the basis on which the story package is sold to financial backers, or clients in the case of commercials, and on which an artistic team subsequently collaborates to develop the idea–everything from directing, acting, costumes, set design, continuity to music.

Artists create the storyboards in the film industry but law librarians can substitute word images, clip art, and computer generated diagrams. For instance, if you want to storyboard your presentation of the budget proposal, you could open with a wide angle shot in the form of a line graph to show fluctuation over time. To storyboard, you only have to write “line graph.” The actual graph can be prepared later via software designed to generate graphs and charts. Follow with “pie charts” to show proportion of parts to the whole. Close with “column chart” to show comparisons of amounts or portions to each other–perhaps attorneys served and library dollars.” In three simple boards, you have the basic story–doing more with less.

As library space decreases, many law librarians are pondering how to project the library story when so much of the infrastructure is invisible and digital. Consider using storyboarding to articulate a new story. Storyboarding techniques can easily be combined with the five easy pieces for training and story telling as outlined in last month’s column. Processes and procedures can be often summarized in a single frame.

When and where would you use the three types of storyboarding techniques in a law library setting? Displayed thinking and wayfinding techniques will be described in more detail in parts 2 and 3 of this topic, but in the meantime here is a summary of some law library applications.

Vincent Bugliosi And the Sea Will Tell

“So often in life people who are experts do not know how to communicate their specialized knowledge to others.”

See previous column, A Structure for Designing Instruction in Five Easy Pieces.

Condense a story
(Film Industry)
Displayed thinking
(Business setting)
(Architectural setting)
Prepare a presentation Decision making Signage, lighting and architectural devices
Design training module Strategic planning Directories of people and places
Create a home page Decision execution Maps (layout, conceptual, relational and routes)
Plan an event Build consensus and get buy-in Landmark identification
Orient at point of need Access group synergy Organization chart
Design job aids Process large amounts of information Decision tree of media links
Establish intranet presence Get sanctioner approval Flow chart of processes
Re-design the library space Mirror the decision making process Route identification devices
Present a proposal Make the plan visible while it is executed Destination identification devices

Because I have advocated storyboarding for sometime, I have already heard many of you say “My experience with lawyers is that they don’t want Leonardo, Disney, displayed thinking or wayfinding devices. Where can I find some persuasive arguments?”

  • If you are a TRIPLL (Teaching Research in Private Law Libraries) alumnus, you will be interested to know that Spring Asher, who vividly taught everyone about much about presentation skills, has written a new book Wooing & Winning Business, which was reviewed in Presentations April 1997, p. 18. In the book, she recommends storyboarding your presentations.
  • Strategic plans for the TRIPLL and AMPLL (Advanced Management for Private Law Librarians) annual programs were created and executed using displayed thinking techniques.
  • The Storyboarding Bibliography paints a broad canvas of applications, including trial.
  • Get on the net and search for “storyboard” or “wayfinding” in several browsers.

Exercise for the month: Design a mobile (or modify one that you can buy in a museum store) that consists of three major moving parts–the three attributes of information–quality, price and accessibility (good, cheap and fast). Label the parts. Balance the mobile to move so that the viewer can see only two parts at once from any angle. Hang it in your office or over the reference desk then consider how to incorporate it into your digital environment.

Coming soon:
Storyboarding, part 2, Displayed Thinking
Storyboarding, part 3, Wayfinding

Storyboarding Bibliography

Posted in: Guide on the Side, Presentation Skills, Storyboarding, Training