Is Legal Research in Print on the Verge of Extinction?

When I announced to a group of friends that I was going to pursue a library science degree, I distinctly remember one of my friends asking, “Why would you do that? Don’t you know libraries won’t be around much longer?”

That was 28 years ago and libraries are still around!  They are, of course, very different, but so are many other things.  Consider: (1) computers are now ubiquitous in libraries and elsewhere, (2) people watch television and movies on mobile devices as much if not more often than on their televisions, (3) many people have eschewed landlines in favor of cell phones only.  I could go on and on.

Consider further that a large percentage of legal research is now conducted online, but many law firm libraries still maintain a physical footprint–albeit a smaller one–in their offices.  And contrary to what some may say, not everything is online–even in 2012!

Legal researchers continue to be tasked with the need to consult both print and online resources to get to the best answer for their clients. And with information in disparate places and formats, the need for libraries and librarians is as important as ever.  The law librarian, now a master of both print and online information, can be the key to ensuring that an important piece of information isn’t overlooked.

So, no, libraries are not going the way of the dinosaur.  Legal research will always be necessary, but libraries and the concept of research in general will morph into something different than what they are today–just as they always have.

About Cheryl Niemeier

Cheryl Niemeier is Director of Knowledge & Research Services at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP. Ms. Niemeier received her Master of Science in Library Science from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1986 and her Bachelor of Science in Education from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana in 1981. Ms. Niemeier has held multiple professional leadership positions in local, regional and national library associations. She frequently speaks at professional association conferences and continuing legal education seminars. Ms. Niemeier has authored multiple articles and seminar publications.
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