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The Economic Value of Law Libraries

“This report is the result of the AALL Economic Value of Law Libraries Special Committee’s efforts to provide members with the best methods for reporting the law library’s value to its stakeholders. The Special Committee retained HBR Consulting to study and report on valuation methodologies law librarians can use to identify the most effective means for communicating value. This study does not provide a dollar value for our services. Among the law libraries in AALL, our services are too varied and our pa rent institutions too diverse to render a single value meaningful. What the report does provide is research and best practices for each library manager to use to determine the value standards held by their own organization and how those values are measured and reported. The report offers guidance for each librarian in determining how best to align their services to their organization’s mission. Since even the best services may go unrewarded if not recognized, the report describes methods for reporting the library’s value to its important stakeholders.”
“How are law libraries perceived by their organizational owners? How can law librarians better communicate their libraries’ value to stakeholders? By tailoring the ways in which they measure and communicate the impact of their services, law librarians can create best practices that work. Occasioned by a widely shared sense that law libraries are undervalued by their organizational owners, the study examined current practices among law librarians for reporting on library services and activities. The study confirmed that commonly used methods offer room for improvement based upon the evolving role of the law library. There may not be a “silver bullet” solution that will heighten organizational stakeholders’ appreciation of the library’s value, but it behooves the librarian to measure the right things and communicate appropriately — in ways meaningful for decision makers—about their services and the impact those services have. The study presents 20 best practices. Four strategies for communicating qualitative measures and five strategies for communicating quantitative measures are defined. In addition, the study identified five actions librarians can take to enhance the likelihood of being heard by decision makers. Briefly put, the overall takeaway from the study is: “It’s not about the library. It’s about the relationship the librarian has with those who do or could benefit from the library.” Specifically, library directors must assert their leadership and proactively implement strategic processes that align with the institutional mission and goals. Library directors are responsible for identifying opportunities, shifting services, and demonstrating law library contributions to institutional goals and stakeholder priorities.”

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