AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum / July/August 2017 / Volume 21, Number 6

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

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JULY/AUGUST 2017 | AALL SPECTRUM 49 Private Law Firm Collections: Lessons from Experience BY CHRISTINE BOWERSOX T he transition of informa- tion from print sources to digital databases is noth- ing new. Signicant price increases for maintaining print publications, cou- pled with shrinking physical spaces, are a commonplace concern for law rm libraries of all sizes. While I am certain each rm is unique in how they tackle these issues that they will inevita- bly face, I will lay out my own collection management experience in the follow- ing paragraphs, as well as include some of the more current changes to our collection in the years since I have been at the helm. In my former role as collection management librarian for a multiple- location rm employing approximately 250 attorneys of varying years of experi- ence and practice groups, our attorneys possessed a range of needs and desires when it came to accessing our collec- tion. In keeping those needs in mind, my initial work with the collection involved researching our purchased print and digital resources, including how many print copies we had of any particular item, and how well our over- all collection was shaped to the needs of the rm. e director and I were tasked with cutting our total print budget by 5 to 10 percent yearly from 2013 to 2016. Cutting Costs We created a plan that would reshape our print collection to decrease its size and slowly transition some of it over to digital. For my rm, our goal each year was to cut expenses monthly when publications were up for renewal, along with scaling back the purchase of desk books for individuals. First attempts were largely strategic—rather than approach this shi radically, we laid out the groundwork for cutting items incrementally. My initial task was to look at the more obvious cost-cutting measures we could take with our print collection prior to a cut being presented to us. e director and I had a straightfor- ward approach—to create a list of items that we could cut most easily without disrupting the core of our print collec- tion. While our insight into what was deemed essential versus non-essential did not always overlap, our goals were the same: to ensure we had what we needed in our print collection for those who accessed these materials on a reg- ular basis in this format. We then drew up a primary and secondary item list that we both agreed could be canceled based on their accessibility in digital format and frequency of use within the rm, which we referenced monthly when items were up for renewal. I focused on a decrease in "desk book" purchases for attorneys next. ese titles were released yearly and had, depending on the publisher and title we were purchasing, undergone signicant price increases. For example, one desk book, specic to New York State, has enjoyed a 59 percent price increase from 2013 to 2017. While not every title saw such large increases in cost, our library was purchasing upwards of 300 desk books of varying titles from various publishers, and we saw our ability to purchase vast quanti- ties decrease with each passing year, and saw a reduced need for so many dupli- cative titles. As we could demonstrate a lack of necessity for this portion of our collection, we were able to decrease the Image © iStockPhoto.com/Kirillm/Matejmo

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