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Few law librarians these days are sheltered from the battles of print vs. electronic waging war across our lands. A common site for skirmishes is the "Land of Looseleafs" - do we get an adequate return on the investment we make in these materials? Take a look at what our neighbors north of the border at Slaw have to say about the pains and gains of loose-leaf publications in a world that's becoming increasingly digital:
- Louis Mirando starts out the conversation with his keen observation that although the keynote speakers at the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in May all had their own unique vision about "The Future of Legal Publishing", they all converged at one particular place: "there is no future for loose-leaf publications, a publishing format on life support that should have died a natural death years ago." He details the curse of loose-leaf through history, succinctly summarizing the imbalance of perks for publishers and drawbacks for librarians and their patrons.
- Gary P. Rodrigues chimes in next and builds on this framework from his perspective as a publishing industry consultant. He clarifies the message and appeals to his colleagues: "The time... has come for Canadian legal publishers to listen to their customers and act on what they hear."
- David Collier-Brown, a guest poster from the computer science industry, paints a crystal clear picture of what end-users really want from their 'continually up-to-date' professional publications, as well as what they'll pay for. "In effect, I need looseleafs, except I really don't need them on paper in three-ring binders."
- Susan Munro, Director of Publications of Continuing Legal Education British Columbia, revists these earlier posts and weaves them together into a usable premise for legal publishers to hold on to as they plan their future steps: "The print version doesn't need to be up to the minute, but the online version does."
For a more in-depth look at what North American law libraries are currently spending and plan to spend on print materials, including loose-leafs, you can order the Primary Research Group's recent publication "Law Library Plans for the Print Materials Collection".
Incidentally, the sample sets of statistics provided in their press release caused one DePaul law librarian, Mark Giangrande, to make an interesting observation: "We in the academic business try to prepare students for the tools that they can expect to use in practice. If law firms are buying less print... why are academic libraries still buying at a much higher percentage?" Why indeed, Mark? Why indeed?
- Loose-Leaf Redux
Munro, Susan. Slaw: Canada's Online Legal Magazine.
- The Curse of Loose-Leaf Law Books
Mirando, Louis. Slaw: Canada's Online Legal Magazine.
- Loose Leaf Pain No One's Gain
Rodrigues, Gary P. Slaw: Canada's Online Legal Magazine.
- The Only Thing Wrong with Looseleafs Is They're Printed on Paper
Collier-Brown, David. Slaw: Canada's Online Legal Magazine.
- Law Library Plans for the Print Materials Collection http://www.primaryresearch.com/view_product.php?report_id=561
Primary Research Group.
- Study Examines the Shrinking Print Collection in Law Libraries
Giangrande, Mark. Law Librarians: Thinking Out Loud in the Blogosphere.