Greg Lambert on Law Firm Libraries

Greg Lambert, prominent law blogger and Director of Library & Research Services at Jackson Walker LLP will be one of our plenary speakers at the upcoming CALL/ACBD conference. His topic is “Three Foot Radius of the Law Library” so I was curious what he has said recently about the law library on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog.

I was most interested to read his thoughtful post “So, What is Wrong with Law Firm Libraries Today?” from April 15th. It is in direct response to a provocative tweet put out by Patrick DiDomenico saying “Tell me what’s wrong with law firm libraries today.” Lambert takes the bait, and gives some fine analysis, discussing both what is wrong and what is right with law firm libraries.

It seems to me that, in calling out what is wrong with law firm libraries, there needs to be some discussion of what can therefore be done to correct things. Lambert also discusses the idea of whether librarians are strategic or not. I think it depends on the role of the librarian or library staff member, whether they are in a leadership role. Not sure that I have all the answers, but here are a few thoughts I float out following some of Lambert’s points.

  • We need library leaders to talk more about strategy. Part of that may be to not wait to be invited to speak, but build the opportunities ourselves. Invite ourselves along, set up the meetings, learn what directions our organizations are going in and support those visions and objectives. If we are doing this quietly in the background, perhaps it’s time to be more public about our strategic thinking.
  • We need to think about succession planning. Even if we do not know who is going to step in once a manager or director steps down, work must be in place to allow someone else to pick up where that person left off. Along with that goes properly documented policies and processes so the next one in doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel (unless he or she wants to).

These are both challenging: there is so much day-to-day work including fires to put out that these aspects do get put aside. The role of a library manager or director, however, does have to include the strategic side. Time needs to be allotted to look at the big picture. Ideally that will feed into the tactical day-to-day side, allowing the library to focus more, not only building on new areas of service, but being able to see what is no longer relevant and can be let go to free up time.

I look forward to Lambert’s talk at CALL/ACBD 2015 on Wednesday, May 25th–it should be thought provoking. There is still time to register!

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