This post was written by Mike Carlson, reference attorney at Thomson Reuters

Reference attorneys have always had a strong affinity with law librarians. Our jobs are similar. We respond to a maddeningly diverse set of research requests and, as the legal market changes, so do our responsibilities. Now, we find ourselves taking on more responsibilities with a renewed focus on understanding developing practice management and business development tools. American Lawyer Media‚Äôs (ALM) annual survey of AMLAW 200 librarians revealed that as much as 18 percent of a librarian’s time is dedicated to responding to requests for competitive intelligence. This might explain why my colleague, Pat Yatchak, was hoarse at the end of another day demonstrating Monitor Suite.

Our presence at AALL offers us a perspective we don’t necessarily acquire when responding to research requests. Perhaps the most common theme we discussed here was the need to do more with less. I think all players in the legal market feel this pressure but seeing how librarians continue to meet this challenge is inspiring. The ALM survey showed that spending on a certain portion of library technology was flat, likely indicating a greater deal of experimentation with new products. Yesterday, we discussed the creative efforts of academic librarians and I was especially impressed with the folks attending the coffeehouse meeting with the GPO’s Superintendent of Documents. These librarians are fiercely dedicated to keeping government documents accessible to the public. As we come to the end of another AALL, I think all us are encouraged to emulate the creativity demonstrated by our librarian colleagues.

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