Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.

More on Strategic Planning

I’ve talked before about strategic planning and its importance for the law firm library.  We developed two strategic plans while I was at my last firm.

The first one was done after I had been there for a year and I knew the firm better by doing an information audit.  I was the facilitator.  It was a plan for the next 3 years and had the following components:

  • Mission
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
  • Objectives 
    • Goals
      •  Actions 

Our objectives were the following:

Objective 1:  Identify and select external information resources in the appropriate format (print, electronic, audiovisual, etc.) to improve overall access to information and control costs

Objective 2:  Develop internal information resources (KM)

Objective 3: Develop web applications for practice groups and administrative departments that support their goals and objectives and enhance firm processes

Objective 4:  Develop timely training opportunities that provide attorneys and staff with the knowledge needed to perform the highest quality research in a cost effective manner.

Objective 5:  Develop current awareness tools

Objective 6:  Provide timely assistance in both legal and non-legal reference and research

Objective 7:  Manage the physical and digital collection and maintenance of facilities used in the research process, administer online contracts and client billing for online research, and coordinate copyright compliance efforts

Objective 8:  Continue to develop of knowledge about library management processes, information resources, and technology solutions

If they seem simple, it is because they defined what we did as a department.  I felt this plan needed to be very task based as we were building a library where there wasn’t any leadership for 5 years – no director.  Each objective had several goals and each goal had several actions..  . 

The second plan was done with a consultant as facilitator.  It is quite different than the first and follows the current thinking in strategic plans.   

  • Mission
  • SWOT
  • Objectives that followed the firm objectives 
    • Each objective had a vision that stated where we wanted to be in 3-5 years and a list of goals needed to meet the objectives

While we had a strategic plan with objectives and goals, it did not include actions or strategies.  We used an annual plan that outlined the strategies/actions we intended to work on each year.  A report that included metrics for measuring the success of the strategy was done quarterly and at year-end. 

Some things to think about:

  • Don’t begin to develop your plan until you have talked to your clients to determine what your objectives and goals should be. 
  • If your firm has a strategic plan, use the objectives listed in that plan and develop goals to support them.
  • While you may have an annual plan with quarterly reports to keep you on track, consider to maintain a document that reports on progress against goals/actions on a weekly/biweekly/monthly basis.

Moving from a task-based plan to one that focuses more on the big pictures was not easy as details are more familar to us as librarians.  I will tell you it was worth the effort.

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