Library management systems: mounting expense or added value?

Traditionally the LMS has provided a systematic and efficient tool for managing our acquisitions, but how will it stand up to the test of time?

The library and information (L&I) world is rapidly exploiting burgeoning technologies, exploring new ways of working, and establishing itself as a valuable asset capable of enhancing success and profitability of a firm or organisation.

As a ‘back room’ data resource, the LMS continues to be efficient and personalisation options are now presented to the end user, but the question remains – what is the most efficient way for time-pressured lawyers to access and use the service?

The future

The ‘one stop shop’ could be the vision for the future. The average lawyer now expects all information to be bespoke and radiate from their daily intranet landing page in a seamless manner; they do not have the time or inclination to navigate to other intranet pages. The question then arises – will our LMS fit seamlessly into this new shared space? Some examples of shared spaces are already underway, but it will be interesting to see future developments.

Print to online

As more subscriptions transpose from print to digital we see costs escalate again. We now expect our resources to work harder for us, offer discernible value and technological superiority keeping up with the fast-paced business world.  A good online service will encourage usage and agile working, but a poor one can turn into a waste of money. One side effect of the move to online journals and reports is the opportunity to dramatically reduce the space we occupy in a building, again aligning with the aims of the firm. 

In-house procurement

We demand an increasingly flexible LMS which utilises current technology and can be moulded to our specific needs, it needs to be globally compatible but also reflect local jurisdictional differences. Identifying the precise tool for your requirements can be problematic, so you might decide to explore internal bespoke build options with your IT department. This is unlikely to be feasible in the majority of cases owing to the huge commitment needed, and as an alternative, many firms are choosing to forge a partnership with the LMS vendor to develop a bespoke system to meet their specific requirements.

Proving value

It is essential that as a function we align with the strategy of the firm and prove we can add value through increased work and revenue. Demonstrating clear lines of benefit to client work, pitches, firm information, and business development can be difficult to achieve but is a very valuable measure. The LMS can now assist with this as it generates basic analytics of resource usage and research functions. However more sophistication is needed, if the LMS is to keep pace with our expectations then this is a feature which needs further development.

Flexibility is key

There is still a place for the traditional LMS but it has to be flexible and integrate with other systems and help us to add value and create a modern seamless interaction for the user to access and exploit resources.

This article was written by Suzanne Cornthwaite, Research & Information Resources Manager, White & Case LLP, who will be moderating a panel discussion on the future of library management systems at the Legal Libraries conference on 10 October in London.

Click here for the full agenda and to register your place.