I got things stared off with a bang yesterday when I discussed a couple of blog posts where I said that the status of law firm librarians has diminished over the past 15 years or so. In those posts, I laid the blame at the feet of the current leadership (AKA “baby-boomers”) and the law library professional organizations. As you might image, the conversation after my talk was quite lively, and the room (which was filled with baby-boomers’ of course) was very happy to point out where they thought I was wrong (a lot), and where they thought I was right (a little).

I was very happy that the conversation included ideas on what could be done through organizations like AALL or SLA, or even through external entities like the ABA, ALM, or NLJ. At the same time, I was a little disappointed with those in the audience that thought that because they were content with their individual situation, and that the status-quo of self-promotion will work fine for the profession (because it has worked for them). My discussion is focused on the profession as a whole… not individual pockets of success. For those that think that things are fine just the way they are, or that law firm librarians are merely feeling the effects of a down economy and that as the economy bounces back, so will the library profession, then I suggest that you answer the following survey:

Rank how the following law firm departments’ status has changed over the past 10 years, where 1 is “fallen significantly”, 3 is “the same”, and 5 is “increased significantly”.

Business Development ____
Information Technology ____
Knowledge Management ____
Library Services ____
Marketing ____
Recruiting ____
Secretarial Services ____

You can keep your answers to yourself, or share them with the rest of us in by leaving a comment.

The point of my talk was not to insult the current leaders, but rather to get the discussion going on what we need to do to go forward and improve the status of the profession. If it means that we need to poke a few bears along the way in order to get them engaged in the conversation, then so be it.

To borrow from the AALL keynote speaker, R. David Lankes, “the future for librarianship is bright, but not if we continue to see our value in our collections and resources — instead of in ourselves…. The future of librarianship is in our hands and we must be ready to fight for it.”

  • Greg is emerging as the Richard Susskind of law librarians.

    My Advice: Listen to him.

  • The status of the Library may still be sitting at a 3, but to make sure that it moves to a 5 and not 1, librarians and information professionals need to acknowledge (and embrace) the changing nature of information availability and adopt new (more intelligent) delivery mechanisms. Think of it as Darwinisn in the workplace.

  • Thea Warner

    I have been a law librarian for only five years, so I don't have the experience that many PLLers do. From what I have seen during this time, however, I do agree that there is a need for focus on the status of the profession as a whole. I think Greg Lambert's talk at the PLL Summit was a good starting point for addressing this issue. Too bad there wasn't more time available for the discussion that followed!