Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Future Trends in Law Libraries

At a session this morning at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) in Toronto, New York-based consultant Nigel Holloway outlined some of the results of a survey conducted earlier this year among CALL members.

Some 140 law librarians responded, about one quarter of the CALL membership, with two fifths of respondents coming from law firms, a bit over one third from from courthouse libraries, and about one sixth from universities. More than 50% of respondents worked in small libraries (1-3 staff), more or less 20% in medium-sized libraries (4-9), and about one quarter in libraries with more than 10 staff members.

When asked to identify the biggest opportunity they face in the next year, more than 35% answered decreased reliance on print, a little less than 20% mentioned being viewed as 'knowledge managers' and about 15% answered new technology.

What is next year's biggest challenge in Canadian law libraries? 40% said doing more with less, 15% answered less reliance on print and about one out of 7 said budget cuts.

The survey is quite revealing about the trend toward digital content. Right now, some 45% of respondents state that more than 40% of their content is in digital format. 70% of respondents expect this to be the situation by 2014.

What about non-legal research (marketing, competitive intelligence, production of continuing professional development products...)? Right now, less than a third of respondents say that they spend more than 20% of their time on non-legal research, but more than 40% expect to be spending that much time on non-legal matters within 2 years.

The law library budget picture appears stable. One survey question asked about money spent last year by law libraries. About 45% answered that it had stayed the same, and there were more people who answered they had spent more than had spent less.

Another question was about money to be spent this year. The picture was pretty much the same as for the previous question. Of course, stable spending levels when vendor subscriptions continue to rise means some other expenditures have to take a hit.

One question about vendors was revealing, Close to 30% of respondents explained they were considering moving to a single online provider, a figure Holloway described as fairly large.

The full results of the survey will soon be made available on the CALL conference website. I will post the link when it is up on the site.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:23 pm


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