Debates on the Value of Law Firm Librarians

Let me start by saying two things that I believe:

  1. I am an optimist
  2. Change is good

I imagine that Slawyers, being those with an intellectual bent who read widely on the web and elsewhere, already know about Patrick Lamb’s recent ABA New Normal column titled “Does It Pay to Hire a Law Firm Librarian?” The comments are interesting and there have been plenty of follow up posts:

LLB Do law firms still need librarians?
3 Geeks and a Law BlogWho needs a librarian anyway?
iBrary GuyA grain of salt and a teaspoon of sugar
Out of the JungleLibrarians add value in law firms

The original post was meant to make us (not just librarians in law firms, but anyone in a service department within a service industry) think:

This post is really a head-fake though. It’s not really about librarians. It’s a challenge to everybody to figure out how to add real value to the enterprise. If you’re not adding value, you’ll be getting used to irrelevance.

My take on Patrick’s article is this: Law firms are changing by necessity. A library will change with its organization, or it will disappear. This is a time of opportunity. Bibliothecari carpe diem.


  1. Shaunna, thank you for bringing this to our attention and pulling together all the blog posts for them–I hadn’t seen all of them!

    I have a blog post burning inside of me, too, but not just for law firm libraries. Part of my work as a consultant has been to review libraries inside various organizations and confirm the work they are doing has value.

    What I hear over and over is that organizations want their library staff to lead the way: into innovation, new technology, new thinking. I have to admit, it is a very pleasant surprise. Most organizations realize they need to “get with it” to make change but don’t necessarily know where to start. Library staff, as information experts, are often seen as likely candidates for bringing new ideas and direction to the organizations.

    No one is going to invite us to do this. As you say, carpe diem–we need to seize the day, seize the opportunity while things are so uncertain and up in the air. If we don’t, someone else will.


  2. The conversation continues…
    Zena Applebaum also weighed in at this issue from a competative intelligence point of view at 3 Geeks with The cost of not hiring a law firm librarian.