May 21, 2013
Has Any Law Library's Print Collection Budget Increased 20 Percent Since 2010?
According to the 2012 AALL Price Index for Legal Publications (member login required)(Carol Avery Nicholson, Price Index Editor), the subscription list price inflation for serials (academic and commercial periodicals, court reporters, citators, codes, digests, legal encyclopedias, newsletters, looseleaf services, and supplemented legal treatises) for 888 sampled titles using 2010 as the base year increased 20.29% by 2012 and 21.64% if periodicals are excluded.
Subscription list price is not buy-new pricing. Quoting from the 2012 Price Index's instructions to vendors:
The price index reflects continuation costs and should be quoted at full retail, non-discounted rates. Please do not quote prices pertaining to new subscribers. "Subscription List Price" includes the cost of all supplementation, new or replacement volumes, recompiled sets, and all other continuation costs, for the stated 12-month period.
Subscription list price inflation since 2010. Federal and regional reporters increased a whopping 71.42% (13 titles). State and federal codes increased 22.93% (61 titles). For traditional research and reference tools, state, regional and federal digests increased 22.93% (58 titles), legal encyclopedias (9 federal and state titles) increased 22.42% and Shepard's citators (30 federal, regional, state and subject specific) only increased 4.59%
For traditional secondary analytical sources, supplemented treatises increased 13.99% (257 titles). Followed by looseleaf services (a 12.30% increase for 61 titles).
Got $$$? While percent rate increases are helpful, average pricing dollar amounts can be more telling for specific product lines.
|Traditional Research & Reference Tools|
|Traditional Secondary Analytical Sources|
The Substitution Effect? If we had retrospective data going further back in time to a pre-2010 base year for the current and much improved market basket of titles, I believe an empirical analysis would conclude that reported price inflation represents the consequences of the Shed West era of print cancellation, most notably in reporters, codes, digests and legal encyclopedias published by WEXIS. Intuitively one can argue that cancellations of print subscriptions due to substitution by online access is producing substantially higher print prices in some market and product line segments.
Some basis for this intuition can be found in AALL's Biennial Salary Survey and Organizational Characteristics reports. According to the 2011 survey findings (member login required), total estimated information materials budgets (of reporting academic, private and government law libraries combined) declined 21.7% in 2011 compared to 2009 data. The percentage of the total information budgets for electronic information in all market sectors continued its upward trend, meaning of course, that the percentage spent for print resources also is declining.
Without intending to criticize the work of this year's Price Index Committee or its editor, if the data for primary sources and traditional research and reference tools (my, not the Committee's, characterization) had identified average list pricing for each product type in two subcategories -- federal only and combined state -- in addition to the summary data reported above, my hunch is average state list pricing would be much higher. For example, the buy-new list price for Ohio Jurisprudence, 3d is $13,955. Since I killed both of our copies of that title years ago, pick your own percent-based continuation cost estimate. $10K if 75%? Certainly not $5K (37%) as reported for average pricing of the nine federal and state legal encyclopedia titles sampled. The same sort of differential may be the case for state-level reporters, codes, digests and citators.
The Shed West era for state print resources is reducing the subscriber base at state levels which in turn is increasing the buy-new pricing and the percentage based cost for continuations. Law libraries are already seeing such incremental increases in state practitioner "deskbook" titles -- annotated statutory code and reg regurgitations and analyical sources -- acquired for their collections. [JH]
May 21, 2013 in Academic Law Libraries, Administration, Collection Development, Firm & Corporate Law Libraries, Government & Public Law Libraries, Library Associations, Publishing Industry | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 16, 2013
11 Key Takeaways from Pew Internet's Research on the Changing Role of Public Libraries and Library Users in the Digital Age
News to me but then I rely upon AALL's Washington Blawg for legislative lobbying info (NB, perhaps I missed it) but apparently May 7th was National Library Legislative Day (ALA). Anyway, on that day, Lee Rainie, Director of Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project presented to ALA The Power and Relevance of Libraries: Takeaways from Pew Internet research based on Pew's research activities which have been focusing on the changing role of public libraries and library users in the digital age for several years now.
Unlike many Powerpoint stacks, Rainie's takeway points are well documented and highly recommended. Public sector law librarians whose institutions are represented by AALL, meaning public law school and federal, state and county law libraries that are open to the public, may find Pew Internet's research takeways relevant.
A big hat tip to beSpacific's May 6, 2013 post. [JH]
February 15, 2013
On Widening, More Likely Than Bridging, Any Existing In-House Content-Distribution Divide
Linking librarians to IT adds a necessary quality to the negotiation of contracts for online research services. An emphasis on the content delivered via the contract demands librarian input. They will have worked with the practice groups and can build on these relationships to understand which resources are necessary to maintain a high quality practice. The librarian’s task will be to consolidate this information across the firm and make it possible for the IT Department to negotiate a contract from a content point of view. Here, too, there will be a return on investment. A low cost contract without value adds expense.
Too often the library director becomes embroiled as an adversary in the negotiation process. This compromises the librarian’s relationship with the vendor and jeopardizes the negotiating process. Knowledge about content and lawyer demand is not the same as knowledge about pricing. And while the IT Department may need help with both the pricing terms and the negotiation process, that help will not come from the library. The vendor relationship demanded in the negotiation process is different from the relationship expected when the contract is in place and services are being delivered. Nothing should jeopardize the service delivery, which should be spelled out by the terms of the contract.
Understanding this, it is a gift to librarians to limit their involvement in contract negotiations. They can pass on an understanding of what the firm demands and force the vendor to consider the stake they have in the next contract with the firm. The vendors need to be accountable for the real relationship of pricing and content to contract terms. With that in mind, IT can demand a contract that has no surprises ahead. -- Nina Cunningham, Leveraging the Assets of the Law Library, (LJN's Legal Tech Newsletter, Feb. 2013, republished here).
Really? Or to quote Greg Lambert, "Um, thanks?" (Emphasis not added.)
Lambert adds "My own thoughts on vendor negotiations, and what I'm hoping where Cunningham is intending to go with this argument, is that there is some value in negotiating with the vendors in a unified way." There certainly is some value. But not, in my opinion, by way of the over-generalized role characterizations in Cunningham's far too simplified recipe.
For much more about this and other topics addressed in Cunningham's article, see Lambert's Are IT and Library "Logical Partners" in Leveraging Library Assets? Highly recommended. Cunningham's Leveraging the Assets of the Law Library, of course, is also highly recommended. [JH]
January 17, 2013
What Are the Top Ten Traits of Great Library Leaders? (Where will you find today's law librarian leaders?)
Late last year in a 21st Century Library blog post, Steve Matthews wrote:
As we approach the end of 2012, I thought I’d get back to my theme for the year – Library Leadership. In order to be a great leader, a person must possess and demonstrate certain characteristics, or traits of leadership. Here are 10 [link to post] that should be at the top of anyone’s list who is striving to become a great library leader.
Ranked as the number one trait according to Matthews is:
1. Great Leaders Have High Character
Think about a situation in which you knew you could do something and no one would EVER know about it if you didn’t tell. Good or bad, doesn’t matter, your actions would never be found out. There would be no evidence of your actions linked to you. There would be no repercussions to you or anyone you knew. That’s not to say that your actions would have no impact on anyone, actions always have impact on someone or something, just no one you know who could trace your actions back to you. What would you do? The answer to this question is what constitutes a person’s character.
“The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” Thomas Macaulay
Matthews closes his post with the following statement:
Library leaders should be striving to be “great” leaders. It’s what the profession needs to flourish in the ambiguous future and regain the library’s relevance in the community. It is what’s needed for survival.
Who exhibits real library leadership qualities? I believe the lesson to be learned here is that library leadership is not defined by elected library association national office holders. Leadership is not an "official status." Nor is it something one can learn from the pablum of educational and professional development programs about "your value" cranked out by AALL. As the saying goes, if you have to tell people you're valuable, you're probably not. Do note well, there was (hopefully no longer) a time when that saying had to be qualified with "as long as you are a male law librarian" because of a rampant sexist perpective.
Leadership is or needs to be defined by the content of one's professional character and the actions taken by individual law librarians who assume that risk. This is particularly clear in uncertain times like the structural transformation underway today. Eventually the cumulative impact of those actions does wake up AALL officialdom as they try to catch up to the pack to "assume" a leadership role that has been defined by the concerted activities of the rank-and-file who are leading law librarians towards a direction needed for survival. [JH]
December 12, 2012
Is It Time to Consider a Comprehensive Government Sector AALL SIS?
I'm a dues-paying member of AALL's State, Court, & County Law Libraries SIS but my involvement is nominal at best (think read the newsletter but nothing else). In part that is because I identify with private law library issues for two reasons:
- My professional DNA was imprinted with very large law firm issues because I spent the first 10 years practicing my profession in that setting; and
- Our little county law library is an official agency that serves our government stakeholders as their in-house library which just happens to be open to private lawyers and members of the general public.
But why is this SIS group limited to state, court and county law libraries? Why are federal law librarians relegated to caucus status when the diversity of both the private sector and academic sector are recognized as SIS groups? After the private sector, federal courts and agencies are the next largest major food group of our vendors. What is going on in the provision of legal resources and services in the federal government market segment is relevant to the "rest of us" at the state and county level. Even if we don't have their buying power, all licensing agreements can be "FOIA-ed," but additional insights on trends and practices could be shared.
It may be time to consider reforming the State, Court, & County Law Libraries SIS to include federal court and agency law libraries under the umbrella of all publicly funded government law libraries. As discussed in Laurie Selwyn & Virginia Eldridge's Public Law Librarianship: Objectives, Challenges, and Solutions (IGI Global, 2012) there are many diverse organizational configurations of state, court and county law libraries. Adding the federal sector will increase that but such unique issues can be addressed within a more comprehensive AALL government sector SIS. [JH]
September 26, 2012
Pro Bono Net's Libraries and Access to Justice Webinar Series
Quoting from Pro Bono Net's free webinar series announcement:
With funding from a Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiative (TIG) grant, Pro Bono Net is producing four national training webinars for librarians, in collaboration with the Legal Aid Society of Louisville, Central Minnesota Legal Services and Legal Services State Support (MN). The goal of the series is to increase awareness among librarians and community stakeholders about online access to justice resources that are available to them, how librarians can access and utilize those resources to better educate and assist their patrons with legal needs, and models for legal aid-library collaborations to connect people with legal information.
The first webinar, Welcoming Librarians to the Access to Justice Movement, conducted on September 13, 2012, provided an overview of legal information needs among low-income and vulnerable Americans, the nonprofit legal aid, court and community groups that serve them. Here's the schedule for the remaining webinars:
- Webinar 2: Connecting Library Patrons with Legal Information: Key Resources
Date: Thursday, September 27, 2012
- Webinar 3: Helping Patrons Find Legal Assistance in their Community: Online Referral Tools
Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012
- Webinar 4: Developing Legal Aid-Library Collaborations: Models and Replication Resources
Date: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Details on Pro Bono Net's Libraries and Access to Justice webinar series can be found here. The webinars will be archived and made available along with all presentation materials.
Hat tip to LISWire. [JH]
July 20, 2012
Programming AALL's Next Annual Meeting: Top-Down or Bottom-Up?
From 2013 Annual Meeting Program Committee survey.
The 2013 Annual Meeting Program Committee is already thinking about programming in Seattle. We have identified the following content areas, and each includes particular issues and challenges that you may be facing in your job. As you look at these issues on the following pages, let us know which ones pertain to your situation. The feedback you provide here will help us develop programs that meet your educational needs.
Raising the profile of the library/librarian
I think AMPC should rethink its thinking.The best way to provide relevant programming for as diverse a group as practicing law librarians as we are is to establish track scheduling at annual meetings wherein which sessions will be offered is removed from AMPC's control and given to special interest sections to decide. Addressing topics such as the ones listed above require a far amount of specificity to be relevant for different types of law libraries.
Think programs selected for private libraries, academic libraries, and public and government libraries by their SISs based on their members (and others, if they want) submissions (with deadlines set by each SIS) to fill substantial slots of time each regular conference day. Perhaps, for example, PLL's annual summit could be held during the annual meeting instead of before it so that some of the sessions can be attended by all interested law librarians who can only go to the annual meeting. Functional groups like tech servs and computing can also be given time slots.
Must definitely there should be an official Executive Board track so that the Board's Summer meeting is conducted during AALL's annual meeting, not before the annual meeting, so all interested rank-and-file members can attend, in addition, to the epic tragic comedy known as the Business Meeting and Members Open Forum, as well as the "educational" sessions AALL conducts to inform members what AALL thinks about issues.
AMPC should be left to fill in a remaining limited number of time slots for others (smaller SISs and Caucus groups) and AALL ceremonial events. etc.
Having offered my 2-cents opinion, by republishing (without premission but what the heck) Steven Lastres' post (on AALLNET's Members Open Forum and Private Law Libraries SIS) I am not suggesting he agrees with me. However, he calls attention to changes in the making for programming Seattle 2013. I do think we both agree that (1) there are some serious issues about the 2013 Seattle programming procedural changes and (2) annual meeting programming needs to be relevant for specific types of law libraries.
Help Protect SIS Rights To Keep Providing Our Members With Relevant Programming
Dear Valued PLL Members,
There are significant changes being implemented for the 2013 AALL Annual Meeting in Seattle. While many are positive, there are some that may significantly impact the ability of Special Interest Sections (SISs) to offer programming that is relevant to its members. I am copying the "Members Open Forum" because I think the membership and other SISs should be aware of the potential impact to all of our members.
For example, SISs will no longer have any minimum guaranteed programming accepted and all SISs will be limited to sponsoring only one independent education program. SISs can no longer rank their submissions in order of importance/relevance to their members. The Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC) will be making all the decisions about your programming.
Why should you care? Because PLL members deserve to attend a conference that provides them with relevant content they need to succeed in their work environment. While we always welcome the opportunity to cross polinate with our academic and court colleagues, law firms are a unique environment and are under economic siege. In fact, we have seen the loss of over 50 PLL members over this past year. A trend that continues since 2008.
Over the last several years, PLL members have grown accustomed to having over 10 progams at conference approved by the AMPC, in addition to 4 to 6 independent programs PLL pays to present to provide PLL members with more programming choices. These 14 to 16 education programs are also independent of the PLL Summit (now in its third year with expected attendance to exceed 300 attendees), which hosts over 10 additional programs as a preconference.
The PLL Education committee works hard to help our member submit programming relevant to "law firm librarians". As you well know, our working environments are unique and have special challenges.
The 2013 Annual Meeting Program Committee is conducting a survey to identify topics and issues of importance to AALL members.
I urge you to tell them what education programming you need to not only survive but to thrive as a law librarian who works in a law firm setting.
Took the survey and would not have know it existed but for Steve's membership alert. There are comment boxes in the survey but not one that asks "are you in favor of the plan we will be executing for you?" [JH]
July 20, 2012 in Academic Law Libraries, Education & Professional Development, Firm & Corporate Law Libraries, Government & Public Law Libraries, Library Associations, Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 14, 2012
Call for Participation in New Generation of Legal Research Databases Survey: Findings will be reported at AALL Boston 2012
One of the best programs I attended at last year's AALL annual meeting was a well-organized and equally well-prepared panel presentation on WestlawNext. Interest was high. Despite being scheduled for the late afternoon of the last day of Philly 2011 (meaning, of course, the traditional time most attendees are heading home), the program was attended by many law librarians, particularly law firm representatives. No doubt, this year's follow-up program will be just as informative. Emily Marcum, Jean Davis, Jean O'Grady, Susan Nevelow Mart and Vicki Szymczak's The New Generation of Legal Research Databases: 2012 Boston Sequel will take place on Sunday, July 22.
From the description:
This forum will enable librarians familiar with Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis Advance, and WestlawNext to compare the developments of these research tools and consider the effect these changes have had in libraries. The discussion will contrast the latest interfaces of these services to their classic versions, as well as to each other. What worked? What failed? Have these “improvements” changed the workflow at your institution or company? Did these changes impact user preference? And, how can vendors improve future product generations? Practical matters – such as implementation, user education, accuracy of results, document sharing, billing practices, and user satisfaction – will dominate the discussion.
The organizers have launched the following surveys to gather information about Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis Advance, and WestlawNext. The findings will be presented at the Boston Sequel. Many of the questions focus on each library type's different institutional circumstances. They request that the director of each library appoint one person to respond to the applicable survey. The deadline is June 30th.
June 14, 2012 in Academic Law Libraries, Electronic Resource, Firm & Corporate Law Libraries, Government & Public Law Libraries, Legal Research, Library Associations, Meetings, Publishing Industry | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 25, 2012
Friday Fun: Don't Be a Private Snafu
Future ready? Then start up. Don't be a Private Snafu. [JH]
April 27, 2012
Findings from Law Library Benchmarks Survey
From Research and Markets' press release for its Law Library Benchmarks, 2012-13 Ed.:
The study looks closely at the budgets, spending, technology acquisition, web use and other practices by law libraries in the USA and Canada. Data is broken out by size and type of law library and for law libraries in the USA and Canada.
Just some of the study's many findings are that:
- 50% of libraries in the United States and 30.43% of those in Canada feel that the space allocated to their library will decrease in three years time.
- Libraries in the sample spent a mean of $3,462 on online databases per lawyer employed in 2011 and a maximum of $20,835. Libraries in the United States spent a mean of $3,883, while those in Canada spent about $2,647.
- University libraries spent a mean of $1,141,321 on salaries, more than twice the mean $487,504 spent by government and courthouse libraries and more than four times the $243,054 spent by law firm libraries.
- In 2011, 41.33% of libraries in the sample increased their overall library budget.
- Law firm librarians in the sample spend a mean of 9.03 staff hours per week in finding new clients for the firm.
- Materials budgets are expected to decline in real terms in 2012.
- Libraries in the sample spent a mean of $5,892 on salaries per lawyer in their organization.
- Print resources still accounted for 53.65% of the materials budget for the libraries in the sample though only 42.5% for law firm libraries.
- 3.8% of the libraries sampled used the cloud service DropBox for cloud computing services.
- Libraries with less than 100 lawyers in their organization spent a mean of $32,027 on scholarly journals.
- Print subscriptions to magazines and newspapers cost libraries in the sample a mean of $68,998 in 2011.
April 03, 2012
Time is Running Out: Help save the San Francisco Law Library
From the State of California's first county law library's Call for Support and Action to save the San Francisco Law Library:
The Law Library has a space crisis. It is housed in the Veterans building, which closes down for renovations in 2013. The City and County is legally obligated to provide and fund the Library’s space. There are strong indications that the City proposes to save space costs by further reducing the collection, seating, staffing and other resources, and a perception on the part of some City officials that the Law Library is not needed at all “because legal information is available on the Internet.” The Board of Supervisors must authorize the expenditure of funds to acquire, improve, and lease a space and for ongoing facilities costs. It is essential that they hear from those in the community who support a fully functioning Law Library.
A Letter of Support and Call for Action on behalf of the Law Library will be sent to the City in early April. If you would like to be included on the list of supporters attached to the letter, you may notify the library by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by signing up in person in the Library, or by calling 554-6821. Please include your name, firm or organization, member of the public, etc.
February 05, 2012
Browsing On A Sunday: Porn In Libraries, Librarians In Porn, Cultural Archives, And Affirmations Of Piracy
The issue of porn on public library computers is back in the news thanks to an incident at the Lake City Public Library in Washington State. A mother with her two children observed a man watching hard core porn there and complained to the staff. The library staff refused to intervene, citing a policy of unfettered Internet access to adults. No censorship, they say. I don’t know. Librarians censor all the time, except we call it collection development.
I wonder if the library would honor requests from patrons for videos distributed by Hustler or Vivid. I’d guess that explicit adult video is under-represented in most collections. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has the initial story, and coverage of an earlier Washington State Supreme Court decision that allows public libraries in that state to censor porn without liability.
The Consumerist has an informal poll on this very topic, with (as of this writing) close to 40% of respondents saying porn should not be openly viewable in a library. About 27% would allow it in certain sections of the library. Those in favor of library porn were split between viewing with no restrictions at around 7% and those who would allow unfettered access while requiring the viewer to have some consideration of the surroundings at 26%.
For those (few, I’m sure) interested in porn that features libraries and librarians, the Paris Review (co-founded by George Plimpton in the 1950s) has an article called Checking Out. It features highlights of materials that feature library sex, including some of which involves staff. Warning: some of the graphics on the page includes nudity as depicted on the reproduced covers of such titles as Naughty Voyeur Librarian and Nympho Librarian. Ahhhhh, the nobility of freedom of speech. For the record, WorldCat shows no libraries as having holdings for Nympho Librarian. However, Google Books has about 50 references to the title, or items like it. Some of these search hits are from references in Library Journal, of all places.
Another topic that may be considered gritty but not seedy is related in this story in The Atlantic, The Legacy of Alan Lomax. He founded Folkways Records and was obsessive about preserving American folk traditions by recording as much of it as possible. His archive of recordings was pretty vast. Now that archive is going digital for streaming to the public. That’s some 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, 5,000 photographs, and uncounted manuscripts. It should all be available at some point via the Cultural Equity web site, assuming some copyright troll doesn’t try to claim rights.
Speaking of copyright trolls, Tom Brady, the quarterback for the New England Patriots who will be playing in today’s Super Bowl game against the New York Giants has stated that he watched last year’s game via an illegal stream while rehabbing his foot in Costa Rica. I wonder if the NFL will sue him. Did he have permission of the NFL and the teams involved? Brady seems experienced enough to find a source for the game on his laptop. Let’s not ask how he gets his movies and music.
And speaking of illegal music downloads, Neil Young has come out in favor of music piracy. He is quoted on CNN as saying "Piracy is the new radio. I look at the Internet as the new radio. I look at the radio as gone." I’m sure his label and the radio conglomerates think otherwise. Stop it Neil, you’ll make Lars Ulrich from Metallica cry. [MG]
January 23, 2012
Congratulations to Linda Maslow, 11th Librarian of the Supreme Court of the United States
Last week SCOTUS announced the appointment of the Court's 11th Librarian, Linda Maslow, to replace Judy Gaskell, who retired in September, 2011. Maslow has had a long and distinguished career at the Supreme Court's library. Quoting from the Jan. 17, 2012 press release:
Maslow has served as Assistant Librarian for Research Services at the Court for 23 years, responsible for the planning and implementing of all research services to the Court. She administered a department of 7 staff, including 6 professional research librarians. She was a member of the Library’s senior management team, handling matters including space planning, collection development, electronic resource management, budget planning and technological innovations.
The press release adds that Maslow served as Acting Librarian since Gaskell’s retirement and worked at the University of Michigan Law Library, starting in 1984 as a reference librarian and then serving for four years as chief reference librarian before joining the Supreme Court library's staff.
January 15, 2012
Browsing On A Sunday: SOPA, E-book Loaning, and the Billable Hour
The White House released a statement yesterday in opposition to filtering the Domain Name System as a response to Internet piracy. Three of the administration’s top technology and IP officers issues a lengthy statement on the White House web server detailing the objections. Victoria Espinel, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at OMB, Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Howard Schmidt, Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security Staff wrote that removing sites from the DNS system wouldn’t remove the illegal content and would drive consumers to use alternative DNS systems that could be unreliable and weaken security policy. They recognized that piracy is a serious problem and solicit comments from the public as to how to combat it.
It didn’t take long for Rupert Murdoch to react negatively. He sent five different tweets including “So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery.” The Register pointed out the irony of this statement given the phone hacking scandal that closed News Corp property News of the World. Politicians sought Murdoch’s favor due to his ownership of significant media properties. His complaining about corporate meddling in politics is not very credible given some of the reports (here and here) out there. He might have saved some invective for Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the lead sponsor of SOPA. He said he will remove the DNS filtering provision from the bill after discussions with industry groups. One presumes technology companies such as Google gave Rep. Smith and others an earful to prompt the move.
The Washington Post (registration required) examines the tension between libraries as lenders of e-books and the publishing industry resisting that lending. The article covers the usual territory of publishers expressing their concern about piracy and libraries and their users frustrated at the lack of available content. What is interesting is some of the statistical material the article notes about demand for e-books in various Washington area library systems. Maryland’s entire library system has less than 10,000 copyrighted e-books with 266,000 checkouts in the last year. The trend over time is a rapidly increasing demand by a public expecting libraries to lend e-books with the same ease as physical books. Publishers would rather see sales rather than lending, and limiting what libraries can lend certainly helps the sales market. Perhaps the various government investigations into e-book pricing might make that sale alternative more palatable to the buyers.
Another article in the Post examines the pressure on the billable hour. It seems members of large firms who handle major clients start their own practices and taking some of those clients with them. The attraction is the trust in the attorney’s work and the attorney’s willingness to use alternative billing arrangements. These may include a lower hourly rate, capped or flat fees, and bonuses depending on the success of outcome in client matters. The article suggests that large firms are feeling the heat and are turning to similar arrangements to keep business. Law graduates take note: There will be less money coming in which means less compensation for jobs in the future. [MG]
November 11, 2011
Changes in Library of Congress Management
On Nov. 4, 2011, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced that Roberta Shaffer will assume the postition of Associate Librarian for Library Services on January 3, 2012 in an employee new release. In a second employee new release it was announced that David Mao has been promoted from Deputy Law Librarian of Congress to replace Shaffer by becoming the 23rd Law Librarian of Congress on January 3, 2012. Congratulations to both. [JH]
November 07, 2011
After The Lawyers, Let's Get Rid Of The Librarians
There was an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times last week titled Saving libraries but not librarians [Blowback]. The author, Dan Terzian, is identified as a fellow at the New Media Rights legal clinic and a lecturer at Peking University School of Transnational Law. He argues that the Internet has effectively replaced librarians and we should just get on with collecting our unemployment checks and finding new careers. Everything is available through Google. Here is the heart of his argument:
The digital revolution has made many librarians obsolete. Historically, librarians exclusively provided many services: They organized information, guided others' research and advised community members. But now, librarians compete with the Internet and Google. Unlike libraries, the Internet's information is not bound by walls; from blogs and books to journals and laws, the Internet has them all. And Google makes this information easily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.
All but the most heady research can be performed by a Google, Google Books or Google Scholar search. Have a question about whether you should be paid overtime? Just Google "overtime pay California" without quotes, and the first result is a California government website with an answer to your question. Even many college students' first -- and often last -- source for research is Google. Only after Googling fails would the students seek a librarian's guidance.
The Internet can even advise community members. For example, Goodreads assists you in finding books to read, Penelope Trunk teaches you how to write a resume, the Berkeley Parents Network advises you how to raise teens, pre-teens and young adults. Whatever your question, you can find an answer through the Internet (and Google).
I think the author is missing something, or at least assumes that there is always an answer available through the Internet and that answer is good enough. I think anyone who offers reference advice, and not merely legal reference, knows better. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told “I’ve tried Google and I couldn’t find anything.” The answer usually comes from proprietary material locked behind a pay wall (and conveniently unlocked by library subsidized licensing) or material not easily located online, or in print. Google’s good for what it’s good for, but my day is not filled with cipher-like searches on behalf of people who could simply do it themselves.
Search engines have limits. They never say anything about the quality of the information, the reputation of the source, or, as reference librarians sometimes do, guess what the real question is. They provide links to unstructured information. That’s it. There are a lot of empty information calories out there, if the author hadn’t noticed. Speaking of which, Homer Simpson’s quote comes to mind, “Donuts, is there anything they can’t do?” Yeah, they can’t formulate a Google search that gets you everything you could want every time you want it.
I’m all for people being information self-sufficient, but it’s an illusion to think that the Internet is everything the world has to offer. Librarians do not simply point to information and look away. They help create a context for information. That function transcends technical and scholarly questions. According to the ALA, a survey showed that public libraries served 87 million people in 2009. There were 216,872 reference transactions on average per library. I guess Google by itself wasn’t good enough. Or possibly another Homer Simpson quote applies: "Me use brain? Uh oh." Either way, Google isn't driving librarians out of a job, wishful thinking aside. [MG]
November 03, 2011
Over 175 AALL Members Support the Consumer Advocacy Caucus Petition
57 AALL members signed the petition of which 19 are law firm librarians, 30 are academic law librarians, 6 are county and government law librarians, and 2 are other law librarians.
70% of 198 PLL-SIS members approved the petition in a survey conducted between September 29th and October 7th which means that about 120-140 private sector law librarians, give or take some or all of the 19 law firm librarians who may be counted as signatories, support the petition.
PLL-SIS Endorsement. Based on the PLL-SIS survey results, the PLL-SIS Board unanimously endorsed the petition stating in part:
[Caucus petitioners] regard their Association as their best ally during a time of unprecedented challenges to the long-term sustainability of law libraries. For decades law libraries have straggled with anti-competitive and unfair business practices in the legal information industry. The cumulative impact of anti-consumer practices has been devastating to law libraries, both individually and collectively. The ongoing economic crisis has only accelerated the fallout, with layoffs and substantial reductions in law library collections and services. Under these circumstances, Caucus organizers find that AALL has untapped promise to champion consumer advocacy for the benefit of law library users.
Quoting from Attachment 1 to the Petition.
The Consumer Advocacy Caucus Petition is now in the hands of AALL's Executive Board. The motion for Executive Board action during the upcoming meeting states:
That the Executive Board approve the creation of the Caucus on Consumer Advocacy, with the following statement of purpose: "The AALL Caucus on Consumer Advocacy will recommend to AALL that it petition appropriate government bodies for specific remedies to anti-competitive and unfair business practices by legal information sellers."
The LISVendor wiki page Legal Information Industry: Anticompetitive and Unfair Business Practices offers some background information and links. [JH]
November 01, 2011
Law Library Information Budget Estimates Decline by 21.7% According to 2011 AALL Findings
The 2011 edition of The AALL Biennal Salary Survey and Organizational Characteristics is now available. While the salary survey findings may not be very useful in the private and government sectors, the findings of organizational characteristics with respect to information budgets has some information value. Because of the differences in AALL survey response rates over the years one cannot say how much more than $1 billion on print and online resources is spent by institutional buyers each year. So firm conclusions cannot be reached about total information spend. However, some insights about trends can be drawn from information budgets provided by AALL institutional buyers as long as one is mindful of this limitation.
Based on reporting AALL law libraries, total 2011 information budgets declined from $1,389.118,580 in 2009 to $1,086,993,2226 in 2001. That's a 21.7% decline since the last reporting period two years ago. Based on available data -- meaning based on prior biennal reports I have readily available, namely the 2009 and 2005 editions in additon to the current 2111 editon -- this year's reported decline is more than three times higher than any earlier reported decline on a percent basis. Between 1999 and 2011, the previous largest decline reported was 6.5% in 2007 compared to 2005 reported total information budgets. See graphs below.
The major sector contributor to the 2011 decline was private law libraries although academic and government library sectors also reported declines. The difference in total information budgets reported between 2009 and 2011 was -$302,125.544. The private sector contributed -$212,017,438 or some 70% to the total decline. This, of course, is no surprise since institutional buyers in the private sector drives this market. Even using the less than comprehensive stats based on AALL reporting law libraries, private sector law libraries represents about 70% of all institutional buyers' spending.
Viewed from this perspective and taking the limitations of the survey response rate into account, it is still noteworthy that the average 2011 information budget for the major market player, private law libraries, declined by 13.3% compared to 2009. The average 2011 total information budget declined by 20% for government libraries and by 4.1% for academic libraries. But for academic law libraries receiving online legal search at what has to be viewed as a discounted wholesale price, one can assume in my opinion that the average academic library's total information budget would have declined more substantially in 2011.
All institutional market sectors reached record highs in terms of their electronic information budgets as a percent of total spend. Even at its discounted rates, electronic information budgets in law schools have increased to 27% of total spend, up from 23% in 2009. In the Government sector the increase was to 21% from 17%. In the private sector, spending for electronic resources rose from 64% in 2009 to 69% in 2011. No doubt, online legal search price inflation played a factor. No doubt print cancellations in the Shed West Era played a role too.
Providing information budgets every two years by AALL, even taking into consideration its limitations, is a "good thing" in a sort of least amount of effort to use the findings sort of way. AALL acting upon the findings in any sort of public forum for all to read leaves much to be desired. [JH]
|Click to enlarge.|
November 1, 2011 in Academic Law Libraries, Collection Development, Firm & Corporate Law Libraries, Government & Public Law Libraries, Library Associations, Polls, Publishing Industry | Permalink | Comments (0)
October 24, 2011
Are We/They Worth It? Collective Bargaining for Public Employees
In the October 14th Chronicle of Higher Education article "Faculty Unions Ponder New Strategies in Changed Political Climate," author Schmidt reports on the largely successful campaigns in both Ohio and Wisconsin to defeat the right of faculty unions to engage in collective bargaining.
I was particularly dumbfounded by this quote from Connie Werkamp, the press secretary for Building a Better Ohio, a campaign organization formed to ensure Ohio legislation (SB 5) which defeated collective bargaining rights for public employees in Marc h 2011 was not repealed by referendum next month:
"The issue here is that these are public employees who are paid by the taxpayer to educate our kids at our universities. They are making good salaries and they get good benefits - often better benefits than those in the private sector."
(According to Schmidt, tenured faculty earn over $70,000 annually while the median household income in Ohio is about $46,000.)
Maybe I am reading too much into this quote, but the alternative to Werkamp's description would be that Ohio should pay their faculty less than what they would be worth in the private sector.
So I am a little biased because I am a unionized public employee, and I don't have "kids" of the two legged kind, but if I did, I would want their fine, dedicated educators to be well compensed for their work - if for no other reason than to secure their continued presence at that university. And, although this is total conjecture, my guess is that most of the tenured and untenured faculty members spent many years earning doctorates, masters, and performing field work, empirical analysis, and living a rather meager lifestyle. I just don't see many of us living la vida loca.
To be fair, the debate about collective bargaining for educators is just part of a larger movement to trim budgets and stem spending. Executive branches from California to Massachusetts are cutting staff, salaries, and benefits in an effort to stay solvent during the economic crisis. Public employees, like private, do have to shoulder their fair share of the burden; however, insinuating that educators are not worth their money is insulting.
There is always the ONE who gets away with "it," but most of us are dediated and hardworking and hardly feel overpayed. I am assuming that most of us "public employees" like to believe that we do make a difference in the lives of our students and appreciate being compensated for that hard work. In fact, a study published in 70(4) Harvard Education Review 437 (Winter 2000) compared standardized test scores to union representation found a statistically significant and positive relationship between student test performance and teacher union representation. (Do Teacher Unions Hinder Educationalal Performance.)
Summary of the situation: In Ohio, the legislation which undid the collective bargaining rights of faculty is going to be put to a public vote on November 8th. In Wisconsin, the legislation had a more colorful path. After being passed into law, a state court set it aside and declared it unconsitutional. Then, the state Supreme Court reversed the lower court and reinstated the legislation. In addition to the situations in Ohio and Wisconsin, there are five states that prohibited all collective bargaining for their public employees: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. It is hard to believe that the 50 years of labor law history I studied at law school is being turned on its head.(VS)
August 05, 2011
Just Trying to Survive: County Law Library Mission Statements Round-Up
Greg Lambert has compiled some 50 county law library mission statements. See his 3 Geeks post for details. While all are noble aspirational statements, I think the reality in this economy is that county law libraries are just trying to survive. I'm not sure our little county law library's Introduction to the Butler County Law Library qualifies as a mission statement per se but it does speak to Survivor Island in county law library style. [JH]