In an earlier post I asked “since AALL is not changing its name, why does our association need to rebrand?” Perhaps I should have asked “since AALL’s The Economic Value of Law Libraries report failed to quantify in economic terms the ROI of law libraries, why does our association need to rebrand?” The latter question is more to the point than the former because the 2015 report is one of the drivers behind the rebranding initiative. Since the naming debacle, it’s best to view AALL’s rebranding project from that vantage point. You read that report, right? See Jean O’Grady’s review, AALL Releases “The Economic Value of Law Libraries” Report– Long on Rubrics– Short on ROI. She writes:
The bottom line is that AALL and HBR have produced a report that says ‘we couldn’t figure out how to measure your value – we hope you have better luck on your own.’ […] Of course we will all continue to try to hone our own metrics but we expected a report that reached well beyond what we are able to do as individuals. We expected AALL and HBR to do some heavy lifting and instead they have passed the problem back to the members.
With the value problem back in members’ laps, rebranding AALL is moving forward because it is “member driven” according to the February 23rd virtual town hall meeting conducted by AALL’s three presidents, past, present and future. Members, apparently, have asked our association to help us communicate our worth to our employers even though we don’t know how to calculate our economic value in these dollars and cents times. We are not going to preserve our budgets simply by saying “we’re worth it, really we are”. Yet that’s the sort of marketing pablum we are going to get from the rebranding project.
Perhaps we need to redo our homework. By that I mean, redo the ROI report. Why? Because it is doable! Because we are way behind the curve on this one. Our law librarian colleagues down under quantified Australian special libraries’ ROI in 2014. They found that “special libraries have been found to return $5.43 for every $1 invested — and that’s a conservative estimate of their real contribution.” Quoting from Putting a Value on ‘Priceless’ at 3. I’m reluctant to say just use the Aussies’ average benefit cost ratio because their survey covered all sorts of special libraries, not just law libraries.
We’re left with this: for $185,000 AALL will get “messaging” (read marketing pablum), a branding manual, a website refresh, a new logo and a tag line. I’m thinking the tag line should be “We’re worth it, really we are!” – Joe
End Note: Putting a Value on ‘Priceless’ (2014) (h/t to Jean O’Grady) and the Financial Times-SLA report, The Evolving Value of Information Management (2013) are far more informative reads than AALL’s The Economic Value of Law Libraries (2015).