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Are you adding value? Librarian or data analyst?

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Are you adding value? Librarian or data analyst?

As there is a shift in role from law librarian to ‘information professional’, it is imperative that librarians show their continued value in the legal research space. Similarly, responses to requests can no longer be in the form of a ‘data dump’, but rather librarians must present some form of analysis of the information they provide.

In the article by Deborah Schwarz, CEO at the LAC Group, entitled, ’30 ways librarianship has changed in 30 years’ entry 13 mentions metrics:

13. The push to run libraries more like businesses. Many librarians are not crazy about this change, believing that libraries serve a more elevated purpose, yet most MLS/MLIS programs are hammering away at the need for metrics and other ways to demonstrate value. And sponsoring organizations – whether it’s a law firm, school, local government or other sponsor – now expect librarians to show how their efforts add value and contribute to desired outcomes.

And this goes hand in hand with point 22: “Incessant pressure to drive down the costs associated with providing library services and the need to allocate resources as technologies, vendors, workflows and other needs change.” Read more here.

Not only do information professionals need to present meaningful data in response to requests, as well as deliver clear metrics on the value of their roles within the firm, there is also a need to do so in a measured, cost effective way. And this too needs to be made clear.

Deborah Schwarz and Manzama’s CEO Peter Ozolin hosted a webinar entitled, ‘The Rise of the Library’. In which they covered key points such as the need for the new library to shift from a quantitative mind set to a qualitative mind set, as well as to take on a more service oriented rather than operational approach in the information professional role. But perhaps most importantly law libraries must answer the following questions: “How is your organization perceived within your firm?” and “Are you demonstrating clear value?” There is a need to measure results – the ‘big-data’ for each library organization:

Devise measurements that show true value, such as business development wins and losses or resource utilization trends. Metrics need to tell a story.

The law librarian of today is constantly analysing the data they are presenting – a complex but necessary shift from traditional library operations.  In a time of budget cuts, downscaling and outsourcing, there is no more imperative a time than this to take on the challenge of the latest technologies in the industry. As Pip Christie so eloquently puts it in her article, ‘Are Librarians becoming Data Analysts?‘, “If we are not innovating, we are stagnating.”


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