Law Libraries As Laboratories

The new RIPS Blog by Janelle Beitz alerted me to a thoughtful piece by Sarah Glassmeyer at Slaw discussing the continuing need of a law library.

You should read Glassmeyer's article, which specifically addresses the recent uproar over Washington & Lee's new Strategic Transition Plan where “[o]perating budgets will be reduced by 10 percent in 2015-16 with the exception of the library budget, which will grow by 2 percent.”

There were many comments about this 2-percent increase that are so disheartening for law librarians.

As Glassmeyer eloquently responded:

  • While, in the above example, the library budget is increasing by 2%, I can almost guarantee that its material costs are going up 10% or more. Annually.
  • The subscription databases that are “replacing libraries” are actually paid for from the library budget. They are not a competitor to the library, but rather they are a digital branch of it.
  • Yes, even books are on the databases. But not all are. Also, depending on the agreement with the database vendors, they may or may not be accessible to members of the public. As many academic law libraries are open to the public and are a filler of the Access to Justice, it’s important that the library has resources available to them.
  • Everything is not on the Internet. Not even close.

These are all very good points. I have been told over and over again about the need to promote law libraries and law librarianship because perception (by administrators and patrons) has a huge impact on bottom-line thinking. But it feels like such a huge uphill battle.

Thank you to Janelle & Sarah for promoting law libraries and law librarians.


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