Collection Re-balancing Part II: Facilitating the Move from Print to Digital in Law Firm Libraries and Information Services
Stuart Zimmerman and Becky Bowman
In part I of this 2-part report, we looked at the drive to enhance digitization and provided some top reasons, challenges and paths to success.
What to cut? How to decide?
The determination of which print resources are ripe for online replacement begins with an examination of current print spend by vendor in tandem with a review of online holdings. A tracking spreadsheet [sample below] is a useful tool for this process.
Sample tracking spreadsheet
Most firms will find that the bulk of their print spend is with some combination of the big four vendors; Thomson Reuters, Lexis, Bloomberg and Wolters Kluwer. Each of these vendors offers robust online services that include the majority of their print publications.
Using Resource Types [see box below] as a rough guide, calculate and plot the cancellation potential (high or low) of each title on the spreadsheet which, when sorted, will surface those titles with high potential for cancellation. Continue working down the list of print by vendor, reviewing online options and plotting cancellation potential. Not every print resource has a digital equivalent.
Licensing terms can vary greatly from vendor to vendor. Make sure that contracts/licenses are adequate to cover all who need access to each resource. Identify gaps in online content and/or any material contract limitations and see if there is a need to expand current contracts or purchase additional licenses.
Once the list of titles with high cancellation potential has been generated and the online alternatives identified and vetted the emphasis moves to a communication campaign to reach users who will be impacted by the elimination of those print resources with high cancellation potential.
Many users will be fine with the move to online and some will express concerns. Listen carefully while making final determinations. This is an excellent time to learn how resources are being used, and the value these resources bring to the firm, directly from the end-users themselves.
- The process of reducing print involves series of compromises and occasional hard decisions to navigate sometimes-competing goals. Be flexible and pick your battles.
- Not everything needed is available online and just because something is available online doesn’t mean that it is accessible. Costs, inflexible licensing terms, and incompatible technologies can thwart the best plans.
- It is not uncommon for firms to increase spending on digital media in order to realize print-cutting goals. Review budget impacts of needed contract changes, additional licenses, etc.
- When needed publications are not available in digital/online formats, options are fairly limited; purchase and maintain print or rely on third-party sources.
- Firms will need the flexibility to accommodate some print to achieve maximum efficiency.
While there will never be a completely paper-free library, law firms are realizing good success in rebalancing their collections and actively managing the usage of online and digital resources while reducing their reliance on print to best fit their specific goals.
Feit Consulting offers Contemporary Library Solutions, reviewing law library operations and assessing collections to identify opportunities to improve utilization of information resources, maximize efficiencies and improve ROI.