Best Practices for Creating a Digital Law Library

If you are considering creating a digital law library, Lexis put together a wonderful white paper on topic that guides you through the process. 

While there is product placement throughout, this white paper is helpful for anyone considering a digital law library. The white paper offers general best practices, along with information on the LexisNexis Digital Library product. 

According to the white paper, one of the first things to consider is the approach that your law library will take to digital migration:
  • Incremental: Some organizations have an ongoing preference for printed volumes and offer eBooks for just a select portion of titles.
  • Accelerated: Others place more emphasis on mobility or are concerned about the administrative overhead that comes with physical books; they may choose to replace a large percentage of hard-copy volumes with eBooks. According to the 2015 ABA technology survey, one third of lawyers report using legal eBooks for work. 
  • Holistic: Either way, many libraries are combining eBooks from multiple publishers in a single digital resource that also provides analysis tools to measure usage.
After considering your approach, it is best to develop a strategy and build your timeline to determine what to expect and what to plan for. 

After you launch, it is important to build usage and adoption through awareness and training initiatives. Even with an intuitive digital library solution, a successful plan needs to include initiatives that:
  • Build awareness of the offerings and their benefits
  • Train people to access and use resources, whether they are in the office or off site using a mobile device
An awareness plan should include repeated communication through various channels such as practice groups, intranet or portal posts, and special launch events like an open house. Read here about an awareness plan that worked well for a large law firm

Ulitmately, after lauching it's a good idea to determine your ROI: 
  • First calculate expected annual savings: Total annual cost for status quo minus total annual cost for digital library. The factors in determining annual costs can include expenses for print volumes vs. eBooks, as well as costs for space, shipping and subscriptions. Costs can include salaries and wages, materials expenditures and operating expenses. If desired, you can explore lifecycle costs of traditional vs. digital materials, as well as recent expenditure, staffing and related statistics from the Association of Research Libraries
  • Then calculate percentage return on investment: Expected annual savings divided by total annual cost for status quo. 
It's important to carefully plan for a migration to digital content. It's also important to build awareness so that your digital content is used effectively. Ultimately, you want to be able to prove that any migration is successful by showing a positive ROI to the various stakeholders that control the purse strings. 


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