Kate Greene Stanhope and I spent a very interesting evening with the Legal Literature and Librarianship class last Thursday. We hope that the discussion left folks feeling enthused about law librarianship. It is a great career option with opportunities in various types of law libraries all of which offer intellectual challenge and practical experience.
During the question period, some concern was expressed regarding the future of law librarianship. I think this was particularly, but not exclusively, in regard to law firm libraries. Will law libraries be assumed into knowledge management or information technology departments? Will their role in helping legal professionals find and understand the law fade as electronic legal information becomes prevalent and print materials fade into the background?
I think not. As I said Thursday evening, there will always be the need for specialists and intermediaries to manage and help interpret the burgeoning mass of information. Librarianship has always been a form of knowledge management and new techniques and software do not change that. It is up to librarians to work with information technology departments, to help IT professionals understand how information and knowledge are used, and conversely to understand ourselves how information is stored and manipulated. Additionally, it is up to us to take an active role in strategic planning for our organizations and to make sure we know and interact with the key players.
Related to this discussion, is that of what we call ourselves. Personally, I prefer to be called a librarian. But would it make any difference if I was referred to as an information specialist, a knowledge manager, or a resource coordinator. Again, I do not think so.
Kate Greene Stanhope says
Here’s the link to Patrick Lamb’s article I referenced Thurs nite, “Does it Pay to Hire a Law Firm Librarian?” on the ABAjournal site. Included in this post is a reply and related comments: http://www.abajournal.com/legalrebels/article/more_on_law_firm_librarians/
Paul McKenna says
The SIM Public Lecture featuring Anne Matthewman and Kate Greene Stanhope was certainly an enlightening and encouraging event. While it’s impossible to discern the future with absolute certainty, there are some clear signs of considerable health within the area of law librarianship. I will simply point to the recent announcement by the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) of the introduction of the New Law Librarians’ Institute. The first program will be launched June 5-10, 2011 in London (ON) and will be an intensive program geared to develop relevant skills and competencies in this field of library practice. Certainly, one sign of vitality that seeks to ensure a solid future for law librarianship.