When we perform Modern Library audits, we are always looking for creative ways to advise firms on how they can supplement shrinking collections and tight staffing. One solution we have found to be of value is to recommend that firms explore joining a membership Library to support their specific needs. Generally speaking, membership libraries can help with additional research and content support, just in time document delivery, and access to specialized collections.
Since most of us are in the midst of budget season for 2018, consider how a membership Library might supplement your shrinking Library collection or cancelled online provider – what better way to address content gaps at a significant savings. For those Librarians supporting practice areas like intellectual property or specialized litigation, the cost of non-legal highly expensive technical journals can quickly eat up a Library budget. Once again we advise our clients to do a deep dive into the content offerings of the membership Library they are considering to make sure they are choosing wisely. One size does not fit all when it comes to choosing a membership Library or a level of membership.
It is not just research and documents, membership libraries have embraced new models to support their members. We like to tell our clients that membership libraries can fill needs you may not even know you have. Consider that some offer plug in apps that interface with SharePoint pushing curated information that the Library can use to enhance their online catalogs and practice group pages. Others provide remote office and meeting space and even advertising opportunities.
We advise that the Librarian should look at potential membership libraries to make sure the choice supports the needs of the firm beyond the basics of research services and document delivery. Evaluate their general, special and archival collections and ancillary services. Outline the benefits. What is the Return on Investment (ROI) to your firm? Prepare a Business Case so that management or finance understands. Membership means something entirely different in this context and you need to explain it in terms they can understand.
Monice M. Kaczorowski is the Vice President of Library Strategy and Innovation. As a former Chief Knowledge Officer, she has been a proponent of law firm KM as a way to improve attorney workflow and foster efficiencies within the practice of law. Managing her own consultancy firm prior to joining Feit, Monice has a keen sense for the large picture while understanding the micro-nuances of legal information management.