To serve or not to serve?

29Jul10

Different types of libraries provide different types of service. Public libraries help patrons find things; academic libraries teach students how to do the finding themselves. Working in a private firm library, I tailor the service I provide to the client: articling students and junior associates get shown how to find things, while senior partners get what they ask for.  

I hadn’t thought about that for a while, until I read this post, Higher Education: Sanctuary or Superstore? on The Librarian’s Commute (via @dupuisj on Twitter). Since Brenda and I talk alot about customer service on this blog, I thought it was worth writing about again.

My library is considered overhead. All of the revenue generators contribute to it, and they all get something out of it, some more than others. I don’t bill external clients, so none of the expense for a library is recovered. So do my clients expect guarantees? “Research answered in one hour or it’s free!” doesn’t quite work here. There really isn’t somewhere else my clients can go to get the service that I offer.

Being the sole provider of a service doesn’t mean I can slack off, though. My clients do expect that I will provide the best service that I can – that’s the whole point of my employment contract. But I do wonder about those members of my firm who barely use the library at all – do they mind subsidizing the others?

~ Karen

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One Response to “To serve or not to serve?”

  1. 1 Brenda W

    Some say that if private law librarians bill their time, then C-suite can see their value. And on unrelated note, those professionals who are not your clients benefit in other ways from library service. If library contributes to lawyers winning cases, and that is overall good for bottom line and profits. So win-win for everyone.



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