2009 AmLaw Librarian Survey: It’s Been on My Mind

It’s been a couple of weeks since the 2009 survey was released, and the results have been on my mind. Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Budgets for resources have shrunk 46%. This is no surprise to any of us, but, the survey also mentions that 43% of respondents report that their budgets are larger. I wonder what those librarians are doing to secure increases in this economy?
  • 62% of respondents said that the library is their firm’s main source for marketing research, which is a good thing in my opinion. The more the library can support internal “customers” the better. However, tracking the results of these efforts and making sure that the library is recognized can be difficult. As a library director mentions in the article “90% of my own work is public relations.” I couldn’t agree more, and believe that library director is the “head cheerleader” and nothing else is as important.
  • Lexis or Westlaw? This year, 31% of firms said that they intended to move to a single-vendor strategy versus just 12% last year. Is this surprising? No, not really, as these two services usually combine for more than half of the library budget. Additionally, the commoditization of primary law and the growth of small specialty providers has significantly changed the market.
  • Average yearly librarian billable hours are up from 300 to 350, however, it doesn’t seem like this was a factor in saving jobs, as staff counts are down for 57% of respondents. Should librarians seek to increase their billable hours? I’m not sure. While there are direct benefits to billing out librarian time, the question really is: How can the value of the library staff be communicated outside of the “billable hour”?
  • Firms are starting to use technology to organize and deliver content in new ways. I wonder why this is occurring now? I have a feeling that the concept of  “information overload” has finally caught up with many firms, and there is a realization that investment in information infrastructures is not just “nice to have,” but necessary.

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