Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 23, Number 1 (September/October 2018), pgs. 20-23.
By Amy Atchison, Associate Law Librarian for Public Services at the University of California Irvine School of Law Library, and June H. Liebert, Firmwide Director of Library & Research Services at Sidley Austin LLP
We both started as research librarians at the University of California Los Angeles Law Library more than 20 years ago. Back then, we tracked reference desk requests each day with tick marks on a sheet of paper. We refer to this now as “data gathering for dummies.” While this simple method recorded the number of requests in a given time period, it provided almost zero value (how often do tick marks ever get aggregated?), and we lost the most useful information, such as the questions and the answers.
Faculty submitted requests almost exclusively via email or phone back then, which is still true today. Our biggest innovation at the time was to print each unassigned faculty request and tape it to an old file cabinet with the idea that a visual of our growing workload would encourage us to take more requests. The unintended effect was group avoidance of the file cabinet and a de facto game of chicken with the faculty requests.
Time passed and things got better. Although we now work at two very different institutions—a law school and a law firm—both of our libraries must run efficiently and cost-effectively while still exceeding our users’ expectations. One way we accomplish this is by tracking research requests in an online system that provides us with the data we need to better understand our users, staff, and organizations. Continue reading
The 2017 AALL Biennial Salary Survey & Organizational Characteristics Survey shows that budgets and staffing for law libraries are on the rise, according to an article in the January/February issue of AALL Spectrum.
Some key figures/takeaways from the survey results include:
- More than half, 270, of the 502 responses were from law firm/corporate libraries.
- Budget information was provided by 366 law firm/corporate, government, and law school libraries. When compared with law school and government law libraries, law firm/corporate law libraries had larger budgets on average ($1,577,734). But law firm/corporate libraries “allocated only 25 percent of their information budget in 2017 to hard copy information” (p. 39).
- Law firm/corporate library budgets were 10 percent higher than in the 2015 survey.
- Staffing totals for all libraries show that the “the average number of total staff for all libraries increased from 9.23 in 2015 to 10.32 in 2017” (p. 40).
- On average, firms had a ratio of 1 professional for every 42.99 attorneys.
- For billable hours in 2016, the ranges were from “a low of 300 hours for law firm/corporate law libraries with 41-90 attorneys to a high of 4,206 hours for those with 451 or more attorneys” (p. 40).
More statistics are available in the AALL Spectrum article Budgets & Staffing for Law Libraries are on the Rise, starting on page 40 of the magazine. The complete Salary Survey is available here to AALL members only.
By Sarah Lin, Library Systems Librarian at Reed Smith LLP
If you attended SLA’s recent Lawmaggedon webinar, you may have heard Jean O’Grady reference the term ‘anecdata’ — usage data based on the anecdotal, in the absence of any hard (or soft) usage data. I have seen the anecdotal trump data over the years: most notably a strong protest against a cancellation, only to find a thick layer of dust in front of the item in question.
Of course, our print collection continues to decline and so many technical services tasks now revolve around digital materials, but the physical books are still here. When faced with competing budget priorities, how do you know what you can really cut? I’d like to offer a few suggestions to discover real data regarding print usage.
by Helen Mok, Librarian, Parlee McLaws, LLP, Calgary, Alberta
Does anyone use books anymore? I can find everything I’m looking for online, can’t I? Do we really need a print collection? Librarians hear these questions frequently today. In the law library field, the answers to these questions are yes, no, and yes. However, as organizational budgets tighten and the need for office space increases, librarians may face pressure to reduce or possibly eliminate their print collections. How can we show the value of our print material in response to these pressures? Continue reading