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I have read Mia Breitkopf’s article on Roy Tennant’s Wake-Up Call to Academic Librarians multiple times over the past few days and continue to think of parallels that run between what Tennant warned the Academic Librarians Conference attendees, and the red flags that private law firm librarians should see in our environments. The academic librarians (University librarians, not Law School librarians) face what Tennant labeled “The Four Horsemen of the Library Apocalypse,” and to many of you that are in law firm libraries, these will look very familiar:

  • Unsustainable Costs
  • Viable Alternatives
  • Declining Usage
  • New Patron Demands
Breitkopf broke down Tennant’s arguments in four topics, and my brain started altering these to fit what we face in law firms:
  • Law Firm Libraries Face Big Challenges
  • What the Law Firm Librarian Should Provide for Attorneys/Clients
  • What the Law Firm Librarians Should Provide for Administration
  • Tugging Your Law Firm Library Into the Future
The challenges are huge for law firm libraries. Perhaps never before has the traditional library looked as obsolete as it does now… and holding on to traditional services essentially means slowly killing the library altogether. 

What we provide to attorneys and clients is far different that what we provided five or ten years ago. The traditional usage (think reference desk) has declined, but the demands on a quality reference librarian have never been as complicated as they are at this very moment. Whether the librarians are embedded into practice areas, or make themselves de facto members of the practice groups by keeping their ears opened to understand the needs of the team and proactively fulfill those needs even before the attorneys realize their needs, the opportunities are there for librarians to step up, think differently and active aggressively to being part of the overall process.
It’s great seeing these types of discussion and realizing that our struggles are not unique. This has been a topic that we’ve discussed on this blog ad nauseum. However, there are many more parallels in Tennant’s arguments. I highly suggest that you check out Breitkopf’s post and start thinking of your own parallels and how you are defining the future of your library.