When I taught research as a writing professor, I would regale students of the olden days when I’d work in the government documents repository at my university’s library; tales of checking microfiche into a paper spreadsheet and Bates stamping their sleeves before sending them into the stacks; of the time I literally measured the length of the cards in the card catalog, so that I could more effectively space them out in the drawers; or how there were specialty resources for particular areas of study, the giant Standard & Poor’s books that business students were always asking for, or the single computer terminal marked Lexus/Nexus that only law students would visit.
It might be easy to think, “Who still uses a library?” but they are alive and well, particularly in the legal industry.
Recently, the American Association of Law Libraries published its 13th Annual Salary Survey, a comprehensive overview of comparative salary information for legal information professionals. For years, people have been saying that the need for librarians is obsolete as we move at lightning speed through the digital landscape. But, according to the AALL, the need for legal information specialists remains steady, even growing in some instances, despite changes in law firm staffing structures and declining law school enrollment. While everyone has made the switch to digital libraries? over the past ten years, the survey shows that “law firms spend on average three times more than academic libraries” when it comes to digital resources.
The need for information and knowledge will never go away, regardless of the medium (print, digital, conference panels) or the repository (library, law firm, internet). The benefit of living in the information age, is that we have so much available to us at any given moment that it’s not hard to seek out the best minds in any given field to see what they’re saying about the latest trends or best practices.