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
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).
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
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