‘Sticking to the Union?’: A Study on the Unionization of Academic Law Libraries, 110 Law Library Journal 105 (2019) by Sarah C. Slinger “analyzes the responses of law library directors to a survey assessing rates of unionization, experience with unionization, and attitudes on unionization. These results ultimately show that while there is a low rate of unionization in academic law libraries, unions may become more prevalent in the future as professional status changes.”

For core legal search, consumers have two primary vendors to turn to, Lexis and Westlaw (WEXIS). “They have perpetuated a secret market of their own design, denying consumers the basic information needed to make informed purchasing decisions,” observed Feit Consulting in Optimizing Legal Information Pricing 2019 Update (“Feit”). We should emphasize “secret market” because Feit estimates that 15-25% of large law firms pay substantially more for core legal search than the rest of this market segment. Why? While consumers can compare the benefits and features of vendor products, comparison of available products based on pricing is not available because of WEXIS NDAs.

Not knowing the “going rate” – not knowing what similarly situated libraries are currently paying for Westlaw or Lexis, most negotiations start with one of two premises:

  1. that the renewal of vendor A is going to cost more than the last contract, but switching to vendor B will cost less than that, or
  2. kicking out vendor A temporarily without a replacement service will result in a lower price offer from vendor A in the not too distant future.

This is churning WEXIS. Churning WEXIS has become a necessity for many law libraries to control legal search costs since the Great Recession because leveraging WEXIS against each other for their core legal search product is the most effective way to obtain cost savings for enterprise search.

Feit Consulting advises “Evaluating and perhaps utilizing the sole provider option has become necessary for law firm administrators to effectively manage these costs. Because of the expense involved and the nature of the market, vendor choice should be re-evaluated in most contract cycles.” The same is true for many government law libraries. So once every three years or so, law firm and government libraries must not renew, or must threaten to not renew, their enterprise-wide search contract to achieve some savings while trying to achieve best in market pricing when market pricing is essentially unknowable. You make your deal and then live with it for a couple of years until it is time to churn again.

Is this the best way to conduct B2B commerce?

The AALL State of the Profession 2019 Snapshot is a preview of the inaugural AALL State of the Profession 2019 report. The preview takes a quick look at law librarians’ role in technology management, as well as topics of note in each setting. The Snapshot’s content is an excellent teaser for the full report.

The full report provides an overview of the law library and legal information landscape. This report captures the range of legal information professionals’ contributions and talents, challenges in the field, and ambitions for the future. It is intended to be used as a tool for benchmarking, advocacy, or organizational planning, and personal development. The report is available for preorder on AALLNET (http://bit.ly/AALLSOTP19).  The price is $199 for members and $299 for non-members.

 

Excerpted from the press release:

The Association of Research Libraries has published the ARL Annual Salary Survey 2017–2018 (paywalled), which analyzes salary data for professional staff working in the 123 ARL member libraries during FY 2017–2018. The 2017–2018 data show that Canadian ARL librarians’ salaries kept pace with inflation, but US ARL librarians’ salaries did not. The median salary for professionals in US ARL university libraries in 2017–2018 was $73,357, an increase of 1.1% over the 2016–2017 median salary of $72,560. The US CPI rose 1.7% during the same period. The Canadian CPI rose 1.2%, and median salaries in Canadian university libraries increased from $97,380 (Canadian dollars) to $99,912 (Canadian dollars), a rise of 2.6%.

H/T InfoDocket.

From the press release:

ALA Publishing eLearning Solutions announces a new facilitated eCourse in collaboration with the Office for Intellectual Freedom, The First Amendment and Library Services. Theresa Chmara will serve as the instructor for a 4-week facilitated eCourse starting on Monday, March 4, 2019.

Librarians and library staff are aware that the free and equitable provision of information is an important part of the library’s mission. The First Amendment protects the right to speak, publish, read, and view materials in the library, but courts have recognized that libraries also must have reasonable rules in place for patron use of the library, consistent with the library’s mission to provide access to library materials and services to the entire library community.

This course, brought to you in collaboration with the Office for Intellectual Freedom, will introduce you to the legal principles behind the First Amendment, their practical implications in daily life, and how those principles affect library work. You will learn basic legal concepts, your rights as library employees, the rights of library patrons, and what the First Amendment does and does not obligate the library to provide.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published the ARL Statistics 2016–2017, ARL Academic Law Library Statistics 2016–2017, and ARL Academic Health Sciences Library Statistics 2016–2017. These three publications present information describing the collections, staffing, expenditures, and service activities of the Association’s 124 member libraries in fiscal year 2016–2017. Of these 124 members, 114 are university libraries (15 in Canada and 99 in the US); the remaining 10 are public, governmental, and nonprofit research libraries (1 in Canada, 9 in the US). The law and health sciences publications focus on the 72 law libraries and 58 medical libraries among the Association’s membership that completed the law and health sciences surveys. Unfortunately the reports are paywalled.

H/T Gary Price’s INFOdocket post.

Complaints are circulating that LexisNexis is jacking up shipping charges again, at least for some titles. Check your invoices against last year’s payments by title. I recall the shipping charge for one standalone annual title was about $10 7-8 years ago, then mid-$20s and now over $40. Nothing about the physical book during this time span justifies an increased cost of almost 400%.

The company’s shipping charge increases have less to do with rising internal shipping costs and more to do with squeezing a little more profit from the print catalog. Perhaps AALL’s Price Index committee should monitor LexisNexis’ shipping price inflation.

The Price Index’s methodology does not incorporate shipping charges when shipping is itemized. For calculating price inflation by publisher, this methodological flaw places Thomson Reuters at a disadvantage because TR does not charge for shipping as a separate charge item. Remember shipping is “free” from Thomson Reuters. (wink, wink) — Joe

Ruth Sara Connell’s Promotion & Tenure Procedures: A Study of U.S. Academic Libraries, Library & Leadership Management (v. 34, no. 4) “reports on the results of a study of tenure and promotion procedures at U.S. institutions where academic librarians are faculty. The author surveyed librarians from 200 institutions of higher education on promotion and tenure issues, and received 104 responses. Topics covered include: who performs reviews, whether organizations use library committees and/or university wide ones, how many external reviewers are used and what they are asked to review, and what documentation guides these processes. The results were compared for (1) institutional control (public/private), (2) small, medium, and large institutions, and (3) simplified basic Carnegie classification. The statistical results are presented.”

H/T Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe

Kendall Svengalis has published the 2018 edition of his Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual. Updates include:

  • Fifty eight (58) additional pages of material, now totaling 1,019 pages
  • More than 90 new treatises, reference titles, and other product reviews (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliographies of legal treatises in 67 subject areas, including 77 titles on Legal Research and Writing, with new, used, electronic, and West Monthly Assured Print Pricing on more than 2,700 titles in all (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliography of legal reference titles (Chapter 22)
  • Updated bibliographies of state legal resources and research guides, including the cost of CALR offerings (Chapter 28)
  • Completely updated bibliographic data for all covered titles
  • Completely updated cost and supplementation figures through 2018, with supplementation figures through 2017 (and 2018 for Matthew Bender).
  • Completely updated cost spreadsheet for supplemented titles (Appendix G)
  • Completely updated charts and tables reflecting 2017 annual reports and pricing data
  • Completely updated sample Westlaw and Lexis costs (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated sample CALR costs for all vendors (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated spreadsheet of published state statutory codes
  • Recent industry developments and acquisitions, including profit margins (Chapter 2)
  • Updated information on Fastcase and Law360
  • Cumulative supplementation cost data going back 25 years — all at your fingertips — to guide your acquisitions and de-acquisitions decisions
  • Special alerts of egregious price and supplementation cost increases in recent years

Order here. Strongly recommended. — Joe

From the About page for The Chronicle’s Title IX Investigation Tracker:

This project tracks federal investigations of colleges for possible violations of the gender-equity law Title IX involving alleged sexual violence. It includes all investigations in this wave of enforcement: those either open now or resolved since April 4, 2011, when the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a “Dear Colleague” letter exhorting colleges to resolve students’ reports of sexual assault — and to protect them throughout the process.

Here you can search federal investigations by institution or keyword; see which ones are open and which are resolved; filter them by status, state, and other factors; and learn the context. You can sign up for weekly alerts. And you can ask us questions or let us know how your college and others are responding to sexual assault. As we gather more information — like the federal investigations’ case files, which are coming in through the Freedom of Information Act — we will add it to the site.

This project is focused on federal enforcement. It does not document each step in state or federal legislation on campus sexual assault, colleges’ internal investigations of students’ reports, or related lawsuits.

— Joe

From the abstract of Is There a Racial Wage Gap in Research Libraries? An Analysis of ARL Libraries by Quinn Galbraith, Heather Kelley and Michael Groesbeck:

Racial equality has been of great importance to the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), as seen through various initiatives. However, in recent years, little research has been done regarding the racial wage gap in ARL libraries. Researchers used thirty-five years of raw ARL salary survey data to examine the wage gap between racial minorities and non-minorities (whites). Using this data, researchers created a model that controlled for institution, years of experience, years of experience squared, position, law or medical library, and sex in order to better understand the nature of the racial wage gap. This model shows that the gap has gradually closed over the years and that there is no longer a statistically significant wage gap between racial minorities and non-minorities in ARL libraries today.

H/T to Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe

According to AALL’s 2017 Biennial Salary Survey & Organizational Characteristics, total information budgets increased substantially for government and law firm/corporate law libraries but not academic law libraries when compared to the 2015 survey results. Government libraries’ information budget increased 31% and law firm/corporate law libraries’ information budgets increased 26%. Academic law libraries’ information budgets were flat.

Electronic information budgets as a percent of total information budgets essentially was unchanged for government law libraries in 2017 at 35%. Not so for other market segments. Electronic information budgets as a percent of total information budget rose 16% for law schools, from 38% in 2015 to 44% of total information budgets in 2017. Law firm/corporate law libraries’ electronic information budgets rose 9%, from 69% to a record 75% of total information budgets in 2017. No time in the history of AALL’s biennial surveys has a market segment reached this 75% milestone. Is the end of this substitution trend in sight? I have my doubts. — Joe

A push to revise Title 44 is in the works led by the Government Publishing Office and the Committee on House Administration.  It started on June 27, 2017 when GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks charged the Depository Library Council (DLC) with making recommendations to her for changes in Title 44 of the U.S. Code. The scope for change is focused on Chapter 19 only, and she is looking for revisions that provide depository libraries more flexibility. The timetable calls for the DLC to submit draft recommendations for the fall 2017 Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Library Conference, October 16 – 18. The depository community will have an opportunity to comment before the final version is submitted to the GPO Director. [Press Release] For background, see James Jacobs’ Here we go again: GPO wants to change Title 44.

For Free Government Information, Jacobs has written a series of posts on this matter:

Strengthening Title 44 part 1: Modernize definition of “publications.”

Strengthening Title 44 part 2: Free Access

Strengthening Title 44 part 3: Privacy

Strengthening Title 44, part 4: Preservation

All are highly recommended.

August 31st deadline for contributions to the modernization discussion. AALL has issued a call for members to make their voice heard by contacting the AALL Director of Government Relations, Emily Feltren and submitting comments to the DLC [DLC Contact Form]. From the August 2017 Washington E-Bulletin issue:

There are many questions to consider when thinking about possible updates, including:

• What parts of Chapter 19 must remain in order to ensure the future success of the FDLP? What should change?

• What updates could be made to strengthen permanent public access to government information?

• What changes to Title 44 as a whole would benefit law libraries?

James Jacobs is promoting this Change.org petition: Protect the public right to govt information: help preserve and expand Title 44. Signatures will go directly to staffers on the House Committee on Administration and Joint Committee on Printing, as well as to GPO and ALA Washington Office. — Joe

Here’s the abstract for Anne Klinefelter’s Reader Privacy in Digital Library Collaborations: Signs of Commitment, Opportunities for Improvement, 13 I/S: J.L. POL’Y FOR INFO. SOC’Y 199 (2016):

Libraries collaborate to digitize collections large and small in order to provide information with fewer geographical, temporal, or socio-economic barriers. These collaborations promise economy of scale and breadth of impact, both for access to content and for preservation of decaying print source material. Some suggest this increased access to information through the digital environment comes at the expense of reader privacy, a value that United States librarians have advanced for nearly eighty years. Multiplying risks to digital reader privacy are said to weaken librarians’ commitment to privacy of library use and to overwhelm libraries’ ability to ensure confidential access to information. This article reviews some recent national and international organization statements on library privacy and finds continuing commitment to library privacy but varied approaches to balancing privacy with other goals and challenges in the digital environment. The article also evaluates privacy protections arising from libraries’ digital collaboration work with Google Books and the related HathiTrust project, and finds a number of vulnerabilities to confidential library use of these resources. These reviews confirm that reader privacy is increasingly at risk even as librarians’ confirm their commitment to protecting reader privacy through organizational statements. The article concludes that libraries can use their collaborative traditions to develop better approaches to protecting privacy as they develop digital collections. Even if libraries have limited success negotiating for or creating digital spaces for perfect digital reader privacy, much can be gained by making privacy an important feature of digital library design. Incremental but meaningful improvements can come from user authentication systems with privacy features, wider adoption of encryption, and innovations in website analytics tools. Reader privacy pressures and compromises are not new to libraries, and incremental solutions in the digital environment are worthy efforts that honor the tradition of libraries’ commitment to reader privacy.

— Joe


The 2017 edition of Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual is now available. Enhancements include:

  • More than 80 new treatises, reference titles, and other product reviews (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliographies of legal treatises in 66 subject areas, including 77 titles on Legal Research and Writing, with new, used, electronic, and West Monthly Assured Print Pricing on more than 2,600 titles in all (Chapter 27)
  • Enhanced bibliography of legal reference titles (Chapter 22)
  • Updated bibliographies of state legal resources and research guides (Chapter 28)
  • Completely updated bibliographic data for all covered titles
  • Completely updated cost and supplementation figures through 2017, with supplementation figures through 2016 (and 2017 for Matthew Bender).
  • Completely updated cost spreadsheet for supplemented titles (Appendix H)
  • Completely updated charts and tables reflecting 2016 annual reports and pricing data
  • Completely updated sample Westlaw and Lexis costs (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated sample CALR costs for all vendors (Chapter 25)
  • Completely updated spreadsheet of caselaw coverage for all CALR vendors
  • Completely updated spreadsheet of published state statutory codes
  • Recent industry developments and acquisitions, including profit margins (Chapter 2)
  • Updated information on Fastcase and Law360
  • Cumulative supplementation cost data going back 24 years — all at your fingertips — to guide your acquisitions and de-acquisitions decisions
  • Special alerts of egregious price and supplementation cost increases in recent years

Highly recommended. — Joe

According to this infographic, the gap is pretty wide. For example, requests for access to materials are 28% higher than faculty think and librarians are 74% more likely than faculty to say access to technology is a crucial function to the library. The infographic is based on McGraw-Hill’s 2016 survey of more than 1,000 librarians and faculty members. Participants were asked questions regarding library use, budget, technology, and how they see libraries serving their communities. The survey results, found in McGraw-Hill’s white paper, The Changing Role of Libraries [free, registration required], reveal that librarians and faculty are not aligned as to what they believe makes libraries valuable. — Joe