Law Practice Management and Technology

The Bottom Line Volume 38, No 1 April 2017

It Takes More Than a Dumpster to Build a Digital Law Library: 12 Critical Components for Digital Law Library Transformations

By Jean P. O’Grady, J.D. M.L.

In December 2014, the New York Times published an articleSo Little Paper to Chase in Law Firm’s New Library about the transformation of Kaye Scholer law library from print to digital. The law library community was universally outraged that the author was 1) completely surprised that law libraries were going digital and 2) overlooked the real story. Law libraries have been "going digital" for at least twenty years.

The demise of the print law library has been so obvious and inevitable that the American Lawyer stopped asking about print resources in their 2006 annual law library survey. The real story, which was not reported by the Times, is the complexity of planning the print to digital library conversion. A LOT happens before the dumpster arrives to cart off the books. The hero of the story is not the architect who designed a law office without a room designated as a “library,” but the information professional who crafted the complex plan, reengineered the workflows, and aligned the licenses and resources on which the digital infrastructure rests. In Kay Scholer’s case, the true hero of the story was Shabeer Khan, the firm’s director of information services. He didn’t get a mention in the Times story.

For the past two decades law librarians and legal information professionals have been assessing products and developing in-house solutions to support virtual library resources. We have been sharing best practices and advising legal publishers on how to build the next generation of products… these must most of all be products that lawyers will be willing to use.

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