Category Archives: Administration

New milestone reached in law firm/corporate law information budgets

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

On modernizing the FDLP’s statutory authority: Comments due by the end of the month

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

Should Law library ChatBots join AALL?

In a recent 3 Geeks post Greg Lambert promotes the use of law library ChatBots to answer routine patron service questions from library users like “what’s my password?” See Now I Want a ChatBot. Not a bad idea as long as law library ChatBots are required to join AALL (and pay the cost of full membership). 😉 — Joe

Digital library collaborations

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

New edition of law librarian’s bible now available


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

How wide is the perception gap between academic librarians and faculty members?

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

Annual subscription model for periodicals reigns supreme: Shifts to online and open access content are not causing a sea change in pricing

“The shift to digital delivery of serials content has had a profound effect on the information ecosystem” but not on pricing models report Stephen Bosch and Kittie Henderson in their LJ article, New World, Same Model: Periodical Pricing Survey 2017. “Most publishers have explored new ways of pricing their content—such as population served, FTE (full-time equivalent), tiered pricing based upon Carnegie classification, or other defining criteria—or the database model, which treats all content within an e-journal package as a database, eliminating the need for title by title reconciliation. However, in the end, the pricing conversation always seems to circle back to the revenue generated by the annual subscription model.” Here’s what the authors forecast:

The 2018 serials marketplace will continue to see steady price increases, with no indicators that this will change. Drivers in the marketplace, such as budget compression, currency fluctuation, OA, government mandates, shifts in the global political climate, new assessment and evaluation tools, and alternating patterns of the distribution of information offered by research platforms and social networks have not changed the fundamentals of the business models, and serials price inflation remains constant. Publisher and vendor consolidation will continue, and libraries will actively manage their portfolios to get the biggest return for their dollars. Annual price inflation has hovered in the 6% range since 2012. As in previous years, the 6% average price increase seen in 2017 is expected to be much the same for 2018. The mature market seems to have found the 5%–6% equilibrium a rate of increase that neither libraries nor publishers like but with which both can work.

— Joe

Is this going to be a trend? BigLaw firm libraries reporting to firm’s chief marketing officer

I hope not. See BNA’s Scott Mozarsky (President of Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg BNA’s Legal Division) ATL post, Large Law’s Not-So-Secret Weapon In Marketing And BD: The Library. (Observing that he only knows of four of the 50 largest firms where the law library reports to the chief marketing officer.)  See also Greg Lambert’s response to Mozarsky’s post at Who Leads the Law Library? How About Law Librarians? — Joe

First Amendment issues that arise within the physical space of the public library

Applied First Amendment Jurisprudence for Public Libraries [SSRN] by Marc Lowell discusses “the historic pathway of key [First Amendment] cases that bring the relevant law regarding the physical space of the public library.” Here’s the abstract:

Whether the physical space of a public library is entitled to some degree of special protection under First Amendment jurisprudence is of great import to public library administrators for a variety of reasons that include the development of patron behavior policies, patron interaction and staff training, and reducing the probability of litigation involving the infringement of First Amendment rights of patrons. This paper discusses the legal intersection of First Amendment protections and public library spaces and suggests constructive steps public libraries may take to reduce risks of litigation, legal costs, and exposure to First Amendment hazards with patrons.

Recommended. — Joe

We’re worth it, really we are!

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).

Findings from Library Vendor Negotiations Survey

Below is the stack from Matt Dunie’s, President of Data-Planet, Nov. 8th presentation at the 2013 Charleston Conference. Hat tip to Gary Price’s LJ infoDocket post. See also Sue Polanka’s No Shelf Required post. Links to archived webcasts for some of the Conference’s sessions are available here. — Joe

Law libraries and their librarians have no value

Oh, wait, that’s the null hypothesis. “Law libraries and their librarians have no value” also demonstrates that thinking or rethinking about value is a double-edged sword. What if the null hypothesis is proven to be true?

From this perspective it is clear that library associations will ignore the null hypothesis by publishing reports that identify value. See for example the FT-SLA report entitled The Evolving Value of Information Management And Five Essential Attributes of the Modern Information Professional (free registration required to download). This recent study identifies the perception gap between executives and information professionals in special libraries and identifies ways the latter group can demonstrate their value to the former group by the means of always illuminating case studies and an equally useful to-do list of recommendations.

And then, in the specific context of law libraries and their information professions, there is this:

The last several years have brought fundamental changes to the legal profession and business of law. These changes have served as an impetus for law libraries to transform their operations and services in varied and profound ways—and it is now imperative that law libraries demonstrate the value they bring in concise, measurable ways.

Instead of attempting to test the null hypothesis, AALL appears intent on spending money to prove the value proposition once someone offers an empirical methodology that only does half of the empirically sound task. For more, see the republished text of AALL’s Oct. 28, 2013 press release (source of the above quote) and commentary at 3 Geeks’ AALL’s RFP on Law Library Value Report.

Frankly, I think value is like porn. One knows it when one sees it by the impact it stimulates. Got a ruler to measure the null? — Joe