One (of many) benefits of being a member of the Toronto Association of Law Libraries (TALL) is getting access to their salary survey (published every 2 years or so, most recently in 2010, 2008, 2006, 2005 and 2003) (with a “shout out” here of thanks to colleague and blogger Brenda Wong who, with her committee, was in charge of helping to compile the most recent survey).
This year’s 2010 survey had two items I wanted to comment on:
1) Dual-degree law librarians: Of the 135 responses on the question of educational level, 15 people (11.1%) responded as having both a Master of Library Studies (or equivalent) degree and an LL.B. This shows a gradual increase over the last several years:
2010: 15 (11.1%)
2008: 12 (9.5%)
2006: 8 (6.3%)
2005: 8 (6.5%)
2003: 7 (5.0%)
In terms of numbers/percentage, the total is still relatively small, especially when compared to the situation in the United States where there tends to be a lot more dual-degreed law librarians: for example, the 2009 Salary Survey from the American Association of Law Libraries indicates 30.1% of respondents had both degrees, with those in academic law libraries having the highest ratio (49.8% or 576 persons) and those in private law libraries having the lowest ratio (8.5% or 74 persons) – see: if interested, see George Butterfield, “Is a JD Necessary for Law Librarians” (LLRX.com) (25 June 2007) (where the author uses statistics from prior years). As suggested in this article, a law degree is by no means necessary for law librarians except for senior academic (and perhaps courthouse) appointments but that a law degree does provide useful context and a competitive advantage in some circumstances.
The reality is that the majority of law librarians in Canada perform their jobs successfully without having obtained a law degree. The real challenge, of course, is that the cost of law school education is sky-rocketing, making it more difficult for MLS graduates to pursue a law degree (the reality being that most dual-degreed law librarians, like me, instead obtain their MLS after first having obtained their law degree and having practiced law for awhile).
I had earlier done a study with Angela Gibson, funded by the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) and completed in 2005, entitled “Report – A Study of the Education of Law Librarians in Canada” that comments on some of the challenges. To their credit, CALL has directly or indirectly carried out some of the recommendations made in this report to promote the infusion of new members, to make professional development more easily available for members, and the like. The dual-degree programs in Canada (at Dalhousie and at the University of Toronto) are also excellent ideas but the reality is that there are way too few persons going into these programs (presumably because of the overall cost).
2) Involvement with Knowledge Management: A second comment on the TALL Salary Survey (2010) was to my surprise – and perhaps disappointment – the seemingly small number of respondents who were actively involved in knowledge management-related activities. For example, only 14 respondents indicated being involved in the Knowledge Management Committee of their firm or organization (with 121 persons indicating no involvement or not responding) and 23 respondents indicating they were responsible for maintaining a research or memoranda of law database (with 112 persons indicating no involvement or not responding). I am a huge believer in the formal integration of law librarianship and legal knowledge management (see, for example, my paper presented at this year’s annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries entitled “The Evolution of Law-Related Knowledge Management in North America – Opportunities for Law Librarians”).
Most members of TALL are well-poised to actively contribute to legal knowledge management. I therefore wonder if this remains an area where law librarians or law library technicians are not being aggressive enough in promoting their skills.