In Kevin Miles’ article, “Library on a Credenza” [PDF], he talks about the “Deskbooks” (some refer to them as “Desk Copies”) that attorneys have on their credenza to help them in their day-to-day practice. Whenever most librarians I know speak of Deskbooks, they usually cringe and think of the giant hole in their budget each time a new attorney comes in and asks for a complete set for their specific practice area. Miles, on the other hand, actually looks at the Deskbooks in a much more measured and practical way and wonders if there is a better way of delivering the information housed in the Deskbook.

Deskbooks can cost the firm hundreds of dollars a year in upkeep, so with that much of an investment per lawyer, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves (both librarians and lawyers) a few questions about our best practices when it comes to Deskbooks? Kevin emailed me this morning and wondered if we should be asking ourselves the following:

  • What is the value of a deskbook?
  • What is the best practices model for a deskbook?
  • Should a best practices model be taught in Library or Law School?
  • Should they be the starting point in a research project? 
  • Should deskbooks migrate over to eBooks?
  • How should an eDeskbook collection be managed?

Are you addressing these issues when it comes to Deskbooks, or are you simply processing them and routing them to the attorneys year after year? Are there other best practices questions we should ask? Most of us think of Deskbooks as a “necessary evil” in the practice of law, but does it really have to be evil? Perhaps thinking of Deskbooks in a new way may provide value in ways we hadn’t thought of before.

Take a look at Kevin Miles’ article, “Library on a Credenza” [PDF], and let us know if you are already acting on some of the best practices issues discussed here and in the article.