PRIVATE LAW LIBRARIAN STANDARDS

PrintEmail

Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section
American Association of Law Libraries


CONTENTS

What's New

Current Officers

Past Officers

Committees & Chairs

Groups & Chairs

American Association of Law Libraries (AALLNET)

Directory of Members

Bylaws

Meeting Minutes

Newsletter

Search Our Site

PLL Listervs

Sitemap

Home

 

 

 

 PRIVATE LAW LIBRARIAN STANDARDS 

(ENDORSED FOR THE PLL SEGMENT, BY THE AALL TASK FORCE ON THE VALUE OF LAW LIBRARIES IN THE INFORMATION AGE)

November, 96

 INTRODUCTION

The role of the law librarian is to provide information for the practice of law within the legal entity (firm, department or organization). This information may be available in different formats and in a variety of sources. The librarian's role in this information age is a critical one to any entity in terms of knowledge of where information is found, how to obtain it, how to disseminate it, and to whom it should be sent.  

There are general standards of what an administrator can expect from a library professional in three categories: entry level, mid-level, and senior level. Years of experience, continual education, and levels of responsibility mainly differentiate these three levels. Note that these standards do not necessarily fit every type of librarian position and some of these skills can be acquired during employment.

There are many factors to consider in the level of a professional librarian in a legal entity. For example, the administrator must examine the importance of the library to the organization and the expectations/needs of the organization's lawyers. If the organization plans on expanding in size and/or practice areas, then the consideration to hire a librarian who can assist in planning the growth and development of the library collection and facilities may be essential. If the organization has satellite or branch offices, then an experienced professional librarian can bring the necessary management and communication skills to the job of coordinating various staff members and facilities.


ENTRY LEVEL:

Education/Experience: Requirements would include a graduate degree in library information studies and 0-3 years of library experience.

Competencies: Computer skills (such as, word processing, database management, library automation products, Internet searching, windows/DOS file management, and spreadsheets). Indexing and categorizing proficiency. Strong interpersonal and communication skills.

Reporting Level: Generally works under the direction of a library committee or a library partner and/or the Office Administrator.

Responsibilities: This position would provide a basic, consistently good level of reference service.* The librarian in this role would handle acquisitions and basic collection development, cataloging and arranging material, and general library maintenance. Provides basic budget information to the office administrator.

Library Knowledge: General reference knowledge in the legal and business areas. A general understanding of different types of collection material (e.g., video, online, CD-ROM) is essential. Some experience with LEXIS-NEXIS and/or WESTLAW. Knowledge of bibliographic databases. Cataloging and indexing skills.

Billable Time: Billing time for research may not be required at this level.  


MID-LEVEL:

 Education/Experience: Requirements would include a graduate degree in library information studies and 4-8 years of library experience. Evidence of professional development through programs or courses.

Competencies: Computer skills (such as, word processing, database management and development, spreadsheets, windows/DOS file management, presentation software, Internet searching, and knowledge level to handle communications software). Writing and public speaking skills to provide training and presentations to both within as well as outside the organization. Supervisory and management experience. Strong organizational skills.

Reporting Level: This position would be a firm administrative position handling the management of the library, reporting to the Managing Partner or Office Administrator and working independently from a library committee or partner supervision.

Responsibilities: This position would provide more complex research and reference service. The librarian in this role may supervise library personnel and handle administrative as well as library duties. The librarian may take on an active role in the budgeting process and forecasting.

Additional management roles may be a requisite in working with firm administration and would handle long-term planning of the library and its relationship to the firm as well as collection development. Duties could be more comprehensive to assist the firm including records, conflicts, calendar, forms, professional listings, paralegal management, continuing legal education, etc. This role handles contractual arrangements for the library department.

Library Knowledge: Knowledge of different collection material (e.g., video, online, CD-ROM) is essential. This person needs to have a vision of the future needs of the firm and be proactive. This librarian would use computer-assisted research to a great degree and would interact with the firm's attorneys in providing information. Strong skills on LEXIS-NEXIS and/or WESTLAW are necessary and the librarian should be able to search competently in other databases that are relevant to the organization's practice. Knowledge of online cite checking. Strong substantive knowledge in the areas of law that the organization specializes in. Understanding of the capabilities of software packages.

Billable Time: Research time is billed out to client matters. Client development research is essential.


SENIOR LEVEL:

Education/Experience: Requirements would include a graduate degree in library information studies and over 7 years of law library experience. Evidence of professional development through programs and courses.

Competencies: Computer skills (such as, word processing, database management and development, spreadsheets, windows/DOS file management, presentation software, Internet searching, knowledge level to handle communications software, CD-ROM tower management). Knowledge of the firm's in-house technology capabilities is essential so that proper software is maintained for the firm's practice groups. Writing and public speaking skills to provide training and presentations both within and outside the organization. Strong supervisory and management skills. Strong organizational skills. Experienced in designing and planning of facilities and handling multiple locales. Knowledge of firm's goals and policies.

Reporting Level: The librarian in this role is a firm administrator and would report to the executive director or top-level management within the firm.

Responsibilities: Working independently from immediate supervision, this position is expanded to include many responsibilities. For example, the training of incoming library personnel, marketing the library, representing the firm through various professional associations and through public speaking engagements, providing extensive legal reference/research for firm personnel and directing a library system that may include multiple locations.

Duties may include managing other departments or projects that are firmwide, e.g., records, conflicts, calendar, forms, professional listings, paralegal management, continuing legal education, etc. This role handles the contractual arrangements for the library department (or other departments as the firm requests).

Library Knowledge: Knowledge of different collection material (e.g., video, online, CD-ROM) is essential. This person needs to have a vision of the future needs of the firm and be proactive. This librarian would use computer-assisted research to a great degree and would interact more intensely with the firm's attorneys in providing information. Strong skills on LEXIS-NEXIS and/or WESTLAW are necessary and the librarian should be able to search competently in other databases that are relevant to the organization's practice. Knowledge of online cite checking. Strong substantive knowledge in the areas of law that organization specializes in. Understanding of the capabilities of software packages.

Billable time: Research time is billed out to client matters but this librarian may have limited time for research. Most of the research would be delegated to other library personnel. Client development research is essential.

*A definition of basic, consistently good level of reference service would be the satisfaction by the patron of the work performed.


CONCLUSION

The above standards serve as guidelines in hiring an appropriate librarian for a legal entity. Professional librarians are highly skilled and can be a tremendous asset to an organization in terms of disseminating information, providing training, doing in-depth research, arranging systems (e.g., databases, files, and books), and producing income by billing out their time. Hiring a full-time professional librarian is a good investment. 

To make maximum use of a librarian's potential, administrators must ensure that the librarian has adequate support and is considered to be a member of the administration. It is also essential that the librarian have the necessary computer equipment and software and is receiving vital training in substantive subject areas, management, and computer skills, which would include sponsoring attendance at professional meetings.


Comments to: amckenzie@brobeck.com

    Copyright � 1996-present Private Law Libraries SIS
Last Updated: May 05, 2004