Need An Extra Pair of Hands? No Wonder!

For those of you who missed Joe Hodnicki’s Extra Pair of Hands poll on Law Librarian Blog, the results are in. In response to the question “If you could increase library staffing in only one area, where?,” law librarians identified three top areas of need: reference, electronic services and technical services. The complete results were:

  • Reference and research services: 22.5%
  • In-house electronic resources and services (KM, Web 2.0, etc.): 21.3%
  • Technical services: 20.1%
  • IT engineering, support and training: 13.0%
  • Circulation and document delivery: 8.3%
  • Teaching research skills: 6.5%
  • Library administration (middle or senior management): 4.7%
  • Collectiondevelopment: 3.6%

Aligned with the results of the 2007 AALL Biennial Salary Survey, this cry for help is not surprising, especially from the private sector. While the average number of attorneys per firm grew from 121 to 127 between 2005 and 2007, the average law firm library staff size fell from 6 to 4.8.

The attorney-library ratios are of great concern.

  • The ratio of library staff to attorneys revealed a steady decline between 1997 (1 to 26.4) and 2005 (1 to 13.23). In 2007, however, that ratio rose to its highest level in 10 years (1 to 37.25).
  • The ratio of library professionals to attorneys follows the same pattern: a steady decline between 1997 (1 to 52.7) and 2005 (1:31.51) and then a sizeable jump in 2007 to 1:58.13.

It remains to be seen whether 2007 is simply an anomalous year or the start of a terrible new trend.

Regardless, with all there is to do, it is not surprising that librarians can use some extra hands – not to mention the minds that go with them! Fortunately, there are more and more options for supplementing your shrinking staff on an as-needed basis. Freelance researchers are increasingly available to handle overflow reference. Librarians have long relied on contract services for collection care in local and branch offices. Discrete tasks from the design of a project management wiki to the creation of a PowerPoint presentation to the rewrite of a procedures manual can be delegated to professional librarians who work for companies like, well, ours!

Check out our à la carte services to see how we can provide extra hands to help cross off a few of your most pressing to-do list items.

Author: Joan Axelroth


Welcome to the Axelroth Advisor

Joan Axelroth, Mary Talley and Ellen Callinan, aka Axelroth & Associates, are happy to announce the launch of the Axelroth Advisor.  We plan to use this blog to collect useful tips and unusual tidbits on issues of interest to librarians.  Although we expect to focus on the areas of top interest to us, namely library and knowledge management, space and strategic planning, technology in libraries and librarianship in general, you never know what else you’ll find here in the future. We look forward to meeting you here in the blogosphere!