Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.

Not My Daddy’s Library?


I’m sitting in Greg Lambert’s program at the PLL Change is Opportunity Summit in Denver listening to why his generation needs to fix the mess that aging baby boomers created.  This follows on his post Not Your Daddy’s Library.  Um, Greg, we aren’t ready to move out of your way yet.

As a baby boomer who does not see herself as aging and has some pride in what I accomplished as a director.  I also know that other directors my age have accomplished a great deal in moving their library towards the future.  As a consultant, I continue to be strive to innovate and want to make a difference.

I don’t want to say that Greg is wrong but I will say that he’s not entirely right.  What we, as baby boomers, faced during the last 10 years was immense change where we shot from the hip while making decisions about how to proceed in providing resources, services and more to law firms.  Some decisions were right and some were wrong.  That’s life.

During these 10 years, law firms were surviving massive change as well.  Some of the decisions they made including who became the “chiefs” of the firms were more about title inflation than real change in responsibility.  Yes, few librarians reached the “C” level but many have excelled in developing services, collections, and more than any “C” level incumbents I know.  It’s not important.

Yes, we are at a crossroads but it will take more than one or two generations to take the steps needed to make a difference that will provide law firms with what they need in the way of information management or research support or whatever a library is attempting to do to stay relevant.

The discussion that followed Greg’s presentation was invigorating with lots of ideas about what law firm libraries need to do now to demonstrate their relevance and become valued in their firm’s eyes.

I hope to get a chance to write more on this topic during the next couple days.

2 thoughts on “Not My Daddy’s Library?

  1. I read with interest both your column and Mr. Lambert’s original post. Unfortunately I was not able to attend AALL this year. I would have loved to hear his presentation in person and appreciate the update. I think that Mr. Lambert needs reminding of a few points as follows:

    – Not all firm structures include C-level positions. Mine doesn’t and I am a Director alongside my peers in Marketing and IT. I also serve on three firmwide committees outside of the library and collaborate closely with other departments on major intitiatives in the firm. This also does not mean your voice can’t be heard if it’s lower than C-level in any firm. It’s what you have to say that counts which leads me to the next point.

    – If Mr. Lambert is upset that knowledge management, competitive intelligence, etc., are being swiped out from under him and other librarians, then perhaps his and their negotiating and management skills need some sharpening. Seems to me that these ideas would only be taken away if the respective firm thought their care would be better entrusted to someone else within the organization. As a dear friend who is a law firm marketer taught me, foster relationships and build your own reputation.

    – Finally, trust is key and not a birthright that comes with a title or even a degree. It is earned. Just having an opinion and openly expressing it to whomever is not management. It’s not even a privilege of management and will never build trust. Stay off the keyboard for a few minutes and come out of the cubicle. Respectfully ask for a seat at the lunch/break/meeting table with real solutions to firm problems and follow through when given the task. Then see what happens. Collaborate and network, isn’t that what Web 2.0 sites attempt to do? Boomers just prefer the face to face method.


  2. Mary – thank you for such an insightful response !