What's a Law Librarian To Do? A Response to "Empty Shelves" Photo Contest

If only I had an "empty shelves" photo to submit. But alas, in this regard my law firm  library is way ahead of the curve, as we shed hundreds of books several years ago, and I did not take pictures of those empty shelves.

 I agree with the suggestion in the Shed West Era Photo Wins AALL's Day in the Life Contest (and a call for more empty stacks photos) Law Librarian Blog post that the trend to "eliminate out-of-plan licensing without adding lightly used out-of-plan resources to in-plan only licenses to escalate" is likely to occur.

My library continues to make plans to downsize our rather small print collection with the hope of bringing those titles into our Lexis or Westlaw in-plan contract and saving money or at least not costing us more only to find that the cost to do so seems to significantly exceed what we've been paying for print! Thus no cost savings there!

Maybe I should do as our IT Director suggested and just cancel the print without adding it to an in-plan contract and see if they even miss it!! Aside from the currency factor why does online cost more than print? After all, the publisher does not have costly print production issues.

Is anyone else dealing with these same issues? What solutions have worked? What has not? Can we actually get away with canceling the print and add them to our in-plan contracts? How long until the other big vendors shed the in-plan versus out-of-plan pricing models as Bloomberg Law has done? And do so at a reasonable per attorney, per month cost?

Cheryl Niemeier, Guest Blogger

[NOTE: if you do have a picture of empty shelves, please email a copy to Greg]

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Tracey said...

We have moved very few of our print publications to electronic, and for precisely the reason you mention: the cost is outrageous. They would charge us two or three times as much as print for five or ten licenses. They tell me this is a great deal, because five or ten people can use it at the same time. But they don't all use it at the same time, and the single print copy we have is sufficient to support all 100+ attorneys here.

It is outrageous to me that they charge this way when electronic distribution saves them the cost of printing and mailing, and leaves us with nothing when we stop paying for it. With a book, we can (and do) keep outdated copies for decades; with electronic, it disappears into the ether as soon as we cancel our subscription and we have to pay again if we want it back.

So we continue to have a lot of things in paper even though many of our attorneys would rather have it electronic.

Richard Leiter said...

The reason that electronic formats cost more than print is because the same corporation produces both formats and they have a business model that demands income from both. If demand for print goes down too far, the income lost must be made up from the digital division. I believe that this explains the soaring costs of print materials (as publishers try to keep revenues stable by raising prices of materials that has a diminishing market) and will, ultimately, drive the cost of digital materials and form of the bizarre licenses, and a la carte contracts of the future.

Good post. Thanks.


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