Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.

The Knowledgeable Librarian (Do you know what your librarian knows?)

Librarians have always worn many hats as they have run their libraries. 

As a Director of the Carnegie Library in a small city in North Dakota, I was responsible for human resources, accounting, grant writer, fundraiser, marketing/public relations, facilities, information technology (it was 1982 and we had one computer), and whatever else the Library Board asked me to do.  I even remember taking on the job of purchasing a toilet at the Home of Economy and finding a plumber to install it in the Boys Restroom in the library.  I had a staff of three but they already had responsibilities that kept them busy. 

Today, librarians continue to wear many hats that give them skills most people wouldn’t rattle off if they talked about what a librarian needs to know. Since my time as a public librarian, I’ve had many experiences and taken advantage of learning opportunities whenever I could.

The library directors and managers that I know best today did the same. Whatever we didn’t know, we learned. What worked for us was the love of learning. Any librarian, who is worth their salt, is a life long learner. So, what skills do you need to be a library director and more specifically, a law firm library director or manager. The following lists, that I developed with help from my friends, tell the story.

Business skills:  Includes basic business skills/roles along with some skills/roles unique to librarians.

  • Strategic Planning
  • Staff Management & Development
  • Interviewing (staff and clients)
  • Leadership
  • Influencing Change
  • Change Management (people side) 
  • Project Management
  • Business Process Improvement
  • Use of Metrics & Surveys
  • Marketing/Public relations
  • Networking
  • Negotiation
  • Accounting/Budget Development & Tracking
  • Marketing Research/Competitive Intelligence
  • Communications (oral and written)
  • Copyright laws
  • License negotiations
  • Educator/Trainer
  • Library Facilities Planning

Organizational Knowledge:  Library directors/managers need to build knowledge around the following:

  • Law Firm Management and Firm Financials
  • Practice of Law (litigation and transactional) and Practice Areas
  • Technology used by the Firm.
  • Legal Market – the market law firms do business in
  • Legal Information Market – the market the library vendors do business in

Technology: Law firm library directors need to understand the technology used by their firm. In some cases the knowledge is needed as background, but in many cases, librarians actively work with the following technologies in many firms.

  • Accounting System
  • Library Management Systems
  • Knowledge Management
  • Content Management
  • Document Management
  • Client Relation Management
  • Intranet/Portal Strategy and Design
  • Search Engines
  • Taxonomies
  • Usability

I’m sure these aren’t complete lists. If you have ideas of other skills needed by law firm library directors and managers, please leave a comment.

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