Monday, September 14, 2015

Suffolk Law Drastically Cuts Library Budget In Favor Of Digital Library

Newswire is reporting that Suffolk Law has drastically cut the Law Library's budget by 50% in favor of a digital library provided, in part, by LexisNexis.

Founded more than 100 years ago, Suffolk University Law School in Boston is the seventh-largest law school in the United States. By complementing its existing physical library with the LexisNexis Digital Library solution, the law school provides students and faculty with 'anywhere, anytime' access to more law library titles than ever before, including electronic versions of course materials at no additional charge.

Ron Wheeler, director of Law Library & Information Resources and associate professor of legal research at Suffolk University Law School, led the charge for digital change, driven by a number of factors: a 50 percent reduction in the law library's budget over a two-year period, the need to reduce the library's physical footprint, a desire to increase access to its collections, and the ambition to create a modern library experience for students and faculty.

“Technology offers the opportunity to convert libraries from static repositories into dynamic resources that increase access to content, provide cost-effective ways to expand collections, and position librarians as experts on technology as well as titles,” said Wheeler. “A solution like LexisNexis Digital Library breathes life back into the very idea of what a library can be, and helps deliver 21st century value.”

Through the implementation of Digital Library, Suffolk Law Library increased the number of volumes available, while simultaneously meeting budget challenges by purchasing fewer hard copy books and consolidating the library's physical footprint from three floors to two.

This seems to be the trend for law libraries nationwide. This model might work well as a cost-saving measure for a law school that is connected to a larger university but leaves much to be desired in the way of content ownership and legal research instruction. Law librarianship will likely continue to evolve in this direction as the purse strings are pulled with just a few large academic libraries continuing to purchase and house print resources.

It will be interesting to see what happens when we are completely reliant on the various vendors/publishers for our information. Will this mean a spike in price for electronic content? Hopefully the contract allows for expansive access rights, and this will be a model we can all learn from.

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