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Showing posts from September, 2017

The 21st Century Law Library: Focus on Service

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As we continue to talk about the ABA's watering down of law library standards, as well as the impending squeeze from artificial intelligence, Law Librarian Dan Odenwald reminds us to focus on the fundamental service tenet of our profession. 
In a recent AALL Spectrum article titled "Transforming Customer Service in the Post-Digital Law Library," Odenwald notes that [w]e may be a long way from the day when artificial intelligence discerns legislative intent for us, or drones drop deskbooks at our doors, but we ought to contemplate that future and the critical role that customer service will continue to occupy in it. 
He further articulates rules for law library customer service in the post-digital age: 
1. Stop Selling Yesterday's Fish:Next-generation legal research platforms, linked data and Watson long ago replaced the perfunctory, will-you-pull-a-statute-for-me duties of law librarians.
2. Anticipate Needs Before They Arise:As the practice of law transforms, so too …

Our Changing Role: A Survey of Law Firm Librarians

As this study indicates, the legal profession is nearly a decade into fundamental, structural 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.

So how much change, exactly, have law firm librarians endured? 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.” Forty-eight percent of respondents reported spendingmore than three-quarters of their time on activities that were not part of their job descriptions three years ago. 

A few of the most-identified changes include:
Conducting research, as opposed to facili…

The Dark Side of Open Access Publishing

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Normally, I am a staunch advocate for open-access (OA) publishing. See previous blog posts on OA here, here, here, here, and here. But with a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (sub. req'd.), it became clear that advocating for OA publishing without mentioning the possible pitfalls is irresponsible.

The CHE article follows the recent demise of Beall's List -- the list created by a librarian to warn researchers about predatory publishers. CHE provides the following possible causes for the demise:

[Beall's] fellow university librarians, whom Mr. Beall faults for overpromoting open-access publishing models.A well-financed Swiss publisher, angry that Mr. Beall had had the temerity to put its journals on his list.His own university, perhaps fatigued by complaints from the publisher, the librarians, or others.The broader academic community — universities, funders of research, publishers, and fellow researchers, many of whom long understood the value of Mr. Beall…

Competitive Intelligence in Academic Law Libraries

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Competitive intelligence (CI) is decidedly in the law firm setting. Law firms use CI to:
gather and analyze information about a competitors’ activities and general business trends to further their goals;gather, analyze, and manage external information that can affect a firm's plans, decisions, and operations;monitor competitors within a specific marketplace; andcollect information pieces that have been filtered, distilled, and analyzed and turned into something that can be acted upon.
While it is natural for law firm libraries to create a CI cycle and process within their firms, it can be more difficult to see how CI affects academic law libraries. But academic law libraries certainly have a part to play in teaching CI techniques to prospective lawyers. 
One of the key components of CI is that the information can ultimately be acted upon. And the prospective lawyers will, at some point, be the ones acting upon the information. So it follows that prospective lawyers would do well t…