One of the biggest difficulties with the law librarian profession—and really, this is true of any profession with a strong customer service and/or pedagogical component—is gauging the empirical value of what law librarians do. There is not a one-step, direct, easily definable correlation between a law librarian task, and how much revenue that task generates or saves. Without the aid of ROI studies, specifically measuring the monetary value of law librarians is impossible.
A collection of Australian library groups collaborated to fund a ROI study on the value of Special Librarians (available here, and the library groups’ summary is available here). Special Librarians are defined in this study as librarians working in health, law, government, business, industry, media, and other commercial or industry groups with a very specific patron-base. The study was conducted by SGS Economics and Planning, an Australian planning and economics firm. The study concluded that for every dollar invested, special librarians return $5.43. The study indicates this might even be a low estimate.
How do special librarians bring this high amount of value?—here is how the study defined the skills of the special librarian:
- High relevancy search results obtained quickly via thorough searches through robust content sets
- Training to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of patron searching skills
- Current awareness results curated from high relevancy, national and international sources
- Management of specific, subject-oriented collections
Here are some extremely interesting findings of the study:
- 40% of potential special library users enlist the help of librarians.
- 56% of librarian-patron interactions are electronic, 27% are face-to-face, and 11% are by phone
- Funding for floorspace, expenditures, and staffing have all fallen within the last three years
- Librarians are 3.3 times faster than their users when undertaking the following tasks: performing research, reviewing literature, delivering documents, and other reference tasks
The study aimed to quantify the time saved by library users, and the value of “out of pocket” expenses saved via librarian resources. The methodology was to conduct in-depth case studies among Australia’s estimated 2200 special libraries; 11% of libraries responded to the study’s survey, and another 4% of libraries responded to the study’s questions about costs and benefits.
Much credit must be given to the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), Health Libraries Inc (HLInc), ALIA Health Libraries Australia (HLA), and the Australian Law Librarians’ Association (ALLA) for collaborating on administering and funding this project. This information is a giant boon to the industry, and extremely beneficial for budgetary negotiations, salary negotiations, and internal marketing and promotion of the library. Seeing results like this really makes me excited about anticipating what the AALL ROI project will find, as previously written about on this site.
As a fan and admitted abuser of Gmail accounts (I have one for each personality I guess), I have to pass along this CNN Money article about Gmail turning 10 yesterday. To summarize, CNN Money points to these particular Gmail features as the reasons why Gmail became the industry dominant e-mail provider:
- Size of space offered: ever-growing but initially 1 GB back in 2004, compared to Yahoo’s 100 MB)
- Google-search-enabled searching of archived emails
- Auto-save for unfinished email
- Undo send, allowing users 30 seconds to retract sent emails
- Priority sorting of important emails
- Integration into Google services
When the news broke a few days ago that ALM, formerly American Lawyer Media, was going to put up for sale, reaction from legal information professionals seemed subdued at best. Yet we cannot help but wonder what this means for an industry that is still struggling to find its footing in the wake of one of the worst global economic downturns we have seen in recent generations. Has the independent legal news and analysis been the biggest victim of the ongoing recession? Continue reading
Jeff Richardson at iPhone J.D. comments on Law Firm Mobile’s recent study showing only 42.5% of AmLaw 200 firms have mobile sites–this, after the ABA’s 2013 Legal Tech survey stated 90% of attorneys use smartphones. Global 100 firms fare even worse: only 39 Global 100 firms have mobile sites. This is perplexing data–the legal industry is characterized by its competitiveness, why are so many firms choosing to willfully disadvantage themselves by not having a mobile site?
Posted in News, Soapbox
Tagged ABA, ABA's Legal Technology Survey Report, AmLaw, AmLaw 200, Global 100, internet traffic, iPhone J.D., Jeff Richardson, Law Firm Mobile, Mobile device usage, mobile devices, PEW Research
As law librarians, I’m sure most of us have a FOIA request horror story or two (hundred): requests that took months to fill, required numerous follow-ups, or were never fulfilled at all. Unfortunately, our FOIA experiences are not out-of-the-ordinary. According to a recent study most government agencies are doing a poor job of handling FOIA requests. The Center for Effective Government, a non-profit dedicated to increasing the transparency of government, recently compiled the results of a study they conducted to measure how quickly and accurately 15 government agencies responded to FOIA requests. The agencies’ performance was assessed under three criteria: processing requests for information, establishing rules for information access, and creating user-friendly access. Seven of the 15 agencies received failing grades:
Appearing March 7th in The New York Times, Katharine Q. Seelye’s article “Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond” (available here) examines how renovations of large, public libraries exemplify how the roles of public libraries and public librarians have drastically changed. Public libraries are moving far away from being dusty book repositories, and toward being airy, open social centers designed with the omnipresence of electronic devices in mind. And, as this role-shifting and repurposing has occurred, public library usage is spiking upward across the county; Boston’s central library alone saw an increase of nearly 500,000 physical visits in 2013.
The bad news just keeps piling up for that venerable, big-box purveyor of print – Barnes & Noble. We have been hearing for quite some time about the chain’s falling sales and revenue figures. Now, the news is reporting on layoffs and funding cuts to its Nook eReader division. Et tu, dear Nook? Continue reading
In a surprise move that will empower bloggers, Getty Images has made over 35 million of their archived photo images freely available for non-commercial, online use. The Getty archives contain some of the most notable photographs ever taken. From the whimsical image of Albert Einstein sticking out his toungue for the photgrapher to the heart-wrenching smoke trails that remained in the sky following the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986, Getty Images has opened a vast collection of poignant and intriguing snapshots the capture the best and the worst of the human experience. Continue reading
AALL announced details on its plans to produce a ROI study about law librarians and law libraries (press release available here). AALL announced late last week their selection of HBR Consulting to conduct the study. The results of this study will provide empirical data concerning the value of law librarians, which will be a boon to law firm administrators especially in regards to their budgetary assessments of library staffing. Continue reading
Have you seen the new look and feel of iBraryguy? The future of information truly is now! In our quest to be one of your go-to sources for news, reviews, and opinions on all things info-related, our team is looking to take on the world! Well, we are at least looking to take on the world of library and information blogs! In our quest for world domination, we have some opportunities for you. Continue reading