Category Archives: Polls & Surveys

Taking a closer look at the changing role of today’s law librarian: Thomson Reuters’ white paper

From the introduction to Taking a closer look at the changing role of today’s law librarian:

The legal profession has undergone nearly a decade of fundamental change, and perhaps no single role has seen greater impact than the law firm librarian. Budget pressures, shrinking law library footprints, a decreasing reliance on print, a greater push for online resources, and the advent of new job responsibilities are just a few of the factors that have combined to push law librarians into new territory.

As one reflection of this change, the American Association of Law Librarians has explored a “rebranding initiative,” as an attempt to “redefine and reinvigorate the value of law librarians and legal information professionals.” A decade ago, such an initiative would likely never have taken place. According to a recent survey of law librarian’s completed by Thomson Reuters, however, the evolution of the law librarians’ role may provide cause for such a discussion.

According to the survey’s 123 respondents from a combination of large and medium law firms, more than half of respondents said their role had undergone substantial change within the past three years, with 15 percent reporting “extreme change.” How much has changed? Forty-eight percent of respondents reported spending more than three-quarters of their time on activities that were not part of their job descriptions three years ago. That’s a staggering degree of change.

Recommended.

H/T to On Firmer Ground. — Joe

Search and politics

Search and Politics: The Uses and Impacts of Search in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the United States reports the results of an online poll of Internet users about how they use search, social media, and other important media to get information about political candidates, issues, and politics generally. From the abstract:

Global debate over the impact of algorithms and search on shaping political opinions has increased following dramatic election results in Europe and the US. Powerful images of the Internet enabling access to a global treasure trove of information have shifted to worries over whether those who use search engines and social media are being fed inaccurate, false, or politically targeted information that distorts public opinion. There are serious questions over whether biases embedded in the algorithms that drive search engines and social media have major political consequences, such as creating filter bubbles or echo chambers. For example, do search engines and social media provide people with information that aligns with their beliefs and opinions or do they challenge them to consider countervailing perspectives? Most generally, the predominant concern is do these media have a major impact on public opinion and political viewpoints, and if so, for the better or worse.

— 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

Pew Survey Asserts Vitality of Public Libraries

I’ve written before on the supposed death of libraries and print due to the creation of the Internet.  The thinking goes that if someone can do something on their own that is a service normally provided by a librarian or library, that person would opt for self-service.  The fallacy in that thinking is that everyone has the same skill sets, needs, and access to the same materials.  Does everyone live on the Internet these days?  Does everyone have a tablet and/or smartphone?  Maybe, maybe not.

At the same time, not all of these devices, even with cloud support, are appropriate for all tasks.  I hate typing on a smartphone screen because the on-screen keyboards are so small.  I keep making corrections more than half my time even with word suggestion.  I would opt for a desktop or a large screen laptop with a real keyboard if I had to do some serious Westlaw or Lexis research.  But that’s me, one of the six billion people in the world without a Facebook account, or an account on Twitter or LinkedIn.

So how do people view libraries against 20 plus years of the Internet and increasingly more and more sophisticated technology?   The Pew Research Center released the results of a survey yesterday that addressed this topic.  It’s called Libraries at the Crossroads.  The subtitle is telling:  The public is interested in new services and thinks libraries are important to communities.  The survey results indicate that while some uses of the library are down by small amounts compared to the last survey, libraries are an important public resource to a lot of people.

Individuals used a public library to access the Internet, look for jobs, look for information to upgrade their skills, and as a source to learn about new technologies.  There is also a social component where the library is used as a meeting and teaching center.  “Additionally, two-thirds of Americans (65%) ages 16 and older say that closing their local public library would have a major impact on their community. Low-income Americans, Hispanics and African Americans are more likely than others to say that a library closing would impact their lives and communities.”

American Library Association (ALA) President Sari Feldman released the following statement regarding the survey’s findings:

 “Public libraries are transforming beyond their traditional roles and providing more opportunities for community engagement and new services that connect closely with patrons’ needs,” said Feldman. “Today’s study shows that public libraries are far from being  just ‘nice to have,’ but serve as a lifeline for their users, as the survey shows more than 65 percent of those surveyed felt that closing their local public library would have a major impact on their community.

“Libraries are not just about what we have for people, but what we do for and with people. Today’s survey found that three-quarters of the public say libraries have been effective at helping people learn how to use new technologies.  This is buttressed by the ALA’s Digital Inclusion Survey, which finds that virtually all libraries provide free public access to computers and the Internet, wi-fi, technology training and robust digital content that supports education, employment, e-government access and more.

“Although the report affirms the value of public libraries, the ALA recognizes the need for greater public awareness of the transformation of library services, as the report shows library visits over the past three years have slightly decreased.  In response, libraries of all types are preparing for the launch of a national public awareness campaign entitled ‘Libraries Transform.’

“Libraries from across the county will participate in the campaign and will work to change the perception that ‘libraries are just quiet places to do research, find a book, and read’ to ‘libraries are centers of their communities: places to learn, create and share, with the help of library staff and the resources they provide.

 “This is an exciting time for libraries, as institutions transform to meet the digital and print needs of their users, and to continue to fulfill their role in leveling the playing field for all who seek information and access to technologies.”

For those who can work without libraries, feel free.  Just don’t denigrate the services libraries provide as anachronistic.  A lot of people like libraries and the help librarians provide.  That’s not going away no matter how many devices one owns.

Mark

Survey of Primary Materials and Formats

I posted about three weeks ago about the discussion going on at my library concerning the maintenance of the National Reporter System as well as other bibliographic items.  This was in connection with ABA Standards for law school library collection allowing for “reliable access” to primary law through electronic resources.  This got me wondering.  I know that current and ongoing material would be on Lexis and Westlaw and other resources.  The immediate question is how far back does everything go?  I would assume through representations that the databases cover all case law from the beginning.

I wound up checking each information statement for case law in WestlawNext and compared it to everything that is a citable item in Table 1 of the Bluebook.  Westlaw does, in fact, represent that it carries case law for every item listed as a citable reporter in the Bluebook.  I’m in the process of checking Lexis at the moment.  While I can take issue with the way Lexis organizes its case law files, the survey so far indicates that it goes all the way back as well.  Lexis does have some interesting additions in that it seems there are databases for circuit court reports for a select number of states.  I’m still working on that survey.

I’m considering an expansion of the survey to other databases such as Hein Online as well as free resources such as Google’s case law and books and other reliable databases for comparative purposes.  Hein’s historical databases for case law and statutes continue to expand, especially for state published items.   I’m also interested in the formats (text only, PDF, etc.) and the range of coverage for each file type.  This information would likely be useful for cite checkers and reference librarians.  I have the initial WestlawNext chart for coverage by reporter and date.  Feel free to contact me for a copy.  I’ll post my progress as I get through this.  I may ultimately turn this into an article that compares type of material to availability, format, and whether it’s reliably free or in a subscription database.  We’ll see if I have the stamina as this goes forward.

Mark

Starting or stopping in 2013 and for 2014

“In the spirit of collecting the wisdom of colleagues, I thought it would be interesting to do a poll on what we started or stopped in 2013 and on what we plan to start or stop in 2014. What products did we stop using? what new ones will we adopt in 2014?” — Jean O’Grady, On Firmer Ground

Jean has launched a brief Start/Stop 2013/2014 survey to collect your answers. She will report the findings after the survey closes on January 15th. — Joe

Friday Fun: Pitching for votes for the 2013 ABA Journal Blawg 100

Here’s a pitch from Josh Gilliand to vote for his blog, The Legal Geeks, in the “For Fun” category. Voting for the 2013 ABA Journal Blawg 100 closes at the end of business today. — Joe

A quick recap of the AmLaw 200 Law Firm Leadership Survey

On Dewey B Strategic, Jean O’Grady identifies what’s hot and what’s not based on the findings of this year’s AmLaw 200 Law Firm Leadership Survey. My personal favorite is “Succession planning:  Hot (making a succession plan) Not ( executing a succession plan).” Jean reports that “[a]lthough the majority of firms have a succession plan – 90% of firm leaders have been in place for more than 10 years, so succession is not happening.” For more, see AmLaw 200 Law Firm Leaders Survey: What’s Hot and What’s Not. — Joe

ARL librarians’ salaries narrowly keep up with inflation

From the press release for ARL’s Annual Salary Survey, 2012-2013:

The 2012–2013 data show that Canadian ARL librarians’ salaries kept pace with inflation, but US ARL librarians’ salaries did not. The median salary for US ARL university libraries in 2012 was $67,257, an increase of 1.2% over the 2011–2012 median salary of $66,467. The US CPI rose 1.4% during the same period. The experience of academic librarians in Canada was more favorable: while the Canadian CPI rose 1.3%, median salaries in Canadian university libraries increased from $85,551 (Canadian dollars) to $87,120 (Canadian dollars) a rise of 1.8%.

The survey also found that “gender-based salary differentials persist in ARL libraries in 2012–2013. The overall salary for women in the 115 ARL university libraries is 95.9% of that paid to men.” For more, see ARL’s press release. — Joe

Do you prefer reading legal pText or eText?

Take The CRIV Blog’s poll 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

Open Knowledge Foundation’s 2013 Open Data Index provides first major assessment of state of open government data

From the press release:

The Open Data Index is a community-based effort initiated and coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation. The Index is compiled using contributions from civil society members and open data practitioners around the world, which are then peer-reviewed and checked by expert open data editors. The Index provides an independent assessment of openness in the following areas: transport timetables; government budget; government spending; election results; company registers; national map; national statistics; legislation; postcodes / ZIP codes; emissions of pollutants.

Countries assessed (in rank order): United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Australia, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, Iceland, Moldova, Bulgaria, Malta, Italy, France, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Israel, Czech Republic, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Croatia, Isle Of Man, Japan, Serbia, Russian Federation, Ecuador, South Korea, Poland, Taiwan R.O.C., China, Indonesia, Hungary, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Jersey, Guernsey, Slovak Republic, Bermuda, Romania, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Singapore, Lithuania, South Africa, Cayman Islands, Egypt, Nepal, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Gibraltar, Belgium, Hong Kong, Barbados, Bahamas, India, Bahrain, Yemen, Burkina Faso, Kenya, British Virgin Is., Saint Kitts & Nevis, Cyprus.

Full results of Open Knowledge Foundation’s assessment and graphs of the data. — Joe

Which law schools have the “best faculties” in terms of scholarly distinction?

For the not very surprising answer, see the results of Brian Leiter’s recent poll at The 50 Best Law Faculties–the U.S. News “Effect” Isn’t What It Was (though it’s still there). — Joe

Help the Bluebook editors by taking the Bluebook 20th ed. survey

Help Us Improve The Bluebook !

The editors of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation are about to embark on the exciting task of making revisions for the forthcoming Twentieth Edition, and we need your help.  We rely on user input to guide our revisions to The Bluebook. This survey is an opportunity for you to share your ideas with us as we update The Bluebook so that we can target our revisions to best serve your needs.

Please take a few minutes to fill out our survey at  www.legalbluebook.com/survey.  Surveys must be received by November 8, 2013, in order to be considered for the Twentieth Edition. Comments and suggestions are also welcome through e-mail to editor@legalbluebook.com.

Bonus Prize:

As an added incentive for the completion of our survey, we will select five participants at random to receive a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. An additional twenty participants will be randomly selected to receive a free copy of the Twentieth Edition as well as a two-year subscription to The Bluebook Online (www.legalbluebook.com). Winners will be notified by December 8, 2013.

Source: law-lib announcement (republished with permission). — Joe