Law Librarianship in the Digital Age

The closing symposium event hosted three guest speakers from law libraries moderated by Professor Ralph Monaco. Ralph introduced the guests by addressing the fact that the terms library and librarian have come “under assault,” and yet operate in an, “expanded sphere of influence despite diminishing space.” The guest speakers introduced ways the librarian remains a relevant and useful position in law firms as physical space and budgets diminish.

DSC_0079 Misti Conway, Director of Library Services at Fox Rothschild, LLP

Misti prepared a presentation o the benefits of using SharePoint as a content aggregation platform for managing information within her company. She argued that SharePoint easily justifies the need for her position, and other library services, within the law firm. An emerging theme in law librarianship is the ability to prove your worth in the eyes of company executives. Misti believes SharePoint is one of the easiest ways a law librarian can justify, “who we are and what we do.” A benefit of SharePoint is its usability. Misti described it as, “simply a way to use technology without a lot of technological know-how.” SharePoint can be used to create research pages and team sites that promote collaboration and development for better reporting and metrics, or value, of library services to the company.

DSC_0081Steve Lastres, Law Librarian at Arnold & Porter, LLP

Steve addressed collection development and services in an increasingly digital information environment. He described his job as being the, “information steward of the organization.” It is his job as law librarian to efficiently procure the necessary information to clients in the face of ongoing budget cuts in a 24/7 workspace. Clients, Steve stresses, are questioning everything and demanding analysis based on service charges, and so the librarians must utilize both technological and business skills to provide the best service and information to clients. In an example of new ways to showcase the information services his library provides clients, Steve described a program in place at his law firm that operates in open area kiosks. These kiosks help mobilize information to “commercialize the value” of his services. In collection development, Steve stressed the ability to negotiate and find “niche providers of information” that is cheaper and best operates under diminishing budgets in the law library field.

DSC_0082Roger Skalbeck Associate Law Librarian for Electronic Resources & Services,  Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law Center

Roger spoke highly of cloud storage as an information storage service platform that addressed today’s information needs and tomorrow’s opportunity to enhance future information collections. Roger described today’s needs as, “providing a way to submit requests online,” and tomorrow’s opportunity as, “building a knowledge base that influences collection development and provides metrics.” His presentation stressed the need for law librarians to leverage librarians’ skills for organization and structure and choosing information tools for the company’s best purpose.


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