Law Library

Law libraries are continually challenged to shift the perspective that a library is a library is a library. This perspective can lead a governance board or funder to see a public library trend and assume that the same concepts apply to a law library. One of the ways I’ve seen this occur is in how people view collection access. While serendipity is a normal finding tool in public libraries, legal researchers may be more focused…
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to amplify and reuse reference interactions. Fundamentally, a reference librarian is available until they engage in an interaction. At that point, the librarian-as-resource is unavailable. Any ability to capture that interaction, then, can potentially allow the reference librarian to remain available and allow the interaction to occur. We attempt this all the time by capturing interactions as video and text resources. But what is the best place to…
I’m going to touch on audience segmentation. I’ve had a couple of discussions since the start of the year about law libraries, usage, and audiences. In most cases, one audience is “the lawyers.” In courthouse law library contexts, we also have “the public” and “the judges.” If you stop there, though, I think you can miss nuance that may help you think about how to improve your service delivery. Just as important, I think there…
We are bound by our margins. I was thinking about information presentation when I was working on a personnel issue this week. Our corporate organization chart is a set of linked PDFs. My team – library, corporate records, and archives – lives on one page. An 8.5″ x 11″ (or almost A4) page. I was struck by how we continue to present digital information constrained by its physical analog. So many questions. I don’t really…
One thing I particularly enjoy about running my own blog, on my own platform, is seeing people use it. Posts on law libraries, on data visualization, and other business topics are visited during the week. Late at night, it’s posts on games, fixing devices, crafts. They come from all over the world and I hope they find what they’re looking for. But as I’ve noted before, there are other visitors I’m not so glad…
The reference question came from the C-suite. Normally, we run our reference inquiries through a traditional process but sometimes they travel down the hierarchy. Did we have access to this article in this journal? The answer: no. We spend literal millions of dollars to have access to legal information and don’t have a journal article. The why: it’s complicated. Your response to a request from a senior executive (managing partner, dean, senior judge) may…
I try to avoid red meat posts. When I see people making bad decisions about libraries, it’s easy to rile people up. Libraries are an easy thing to support because they often have a positive connotation: smells, experiences reading, free-to-access learning. Which may be why organizations cut the staff instead of the things that are used, without realizing that a library exists only with its staff, not because of its information. This whole post was…
It has been almost a year of working from home in the pandemic. This time last year, I worked at an organization with a dedicated IT team, and took a 2 hour commute to and from our physical space. Now? I work at an organization with a dedicated IT team but on my own internet, my own computer, my own software licenses, and reliant on my own know how. The regular interruptions caused by keeping…
Let’s cooperate. I do a thing. You do a thing. Win-win. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Over the years, I’ve had people pitch ideas for law library collaboration or cooperation. It came up again recently and I asked my now standard question: how do we pool the money to get this done? In other words, what resources that aren’t “in-kind” are you putting in to the collaboration? A…
A couple years back, there was some really interesting law library survey research done. I was talking to someone about it recently and I commented that I thought it had been underutilized, that it contained some real opportunities to learn. But it became clear that the research is not being used because there is a misunderstanding about response rates and statistical validity. This has been common in my law library and legal professional experience. A…