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Collection Development Policies: Law Firm Survey

Page history last edited by Anneli Sarkanen 5 years, 6 months ago Saved with comment

A survey was posted in September 2014 on both a UK and an Australian law library mailing list. The respondents came from a wide variety of global locations and firm sizes. There were 88 responses to the survey and they are summarised below. The results below were also published in the March 2015 edition of the BIALL Newsletter.


Collection Development Policies in law firms - survey results


  • A majority (63%) of firms did not have a collection development policy.


  • Of those that did the vast majority reviewed theirs yearly.


  • Hardly any firms (3 responses) used a conspectus approach (subject collection depth levels) for collection development.


  • Nearly all firms (85%) used a combination of library and legal staff to purchase resources. There were 13 comments compared to 62 responses overall and in those there was a mixture of people saying legal or library staff had the final say. Six of the comments said the legal staff had the final say whilst the others said that library staff controlled purchases to a large degree but in consultation with legal staff.


  • 64% of libraries acquired a combination of print and online resources with a significant minority (31%) just prioritising online. Cost was cited as a major problem with online resources but many said it had advantages for access. Textbooks were predominantly acquired in print where as it was common for journals and law reports to be purchased online.


  • The majority of firms used external document suppliers to some extent with 31% saying moderately and 36% only sparingly. Only 5% did not use them at all. 19% used them regularly.


  • A large majority (72%) of firms do not use subscriptions management agencies but a significant minority (18%) do use them for select subscriptions. Only 10% use them for all subscriptions. Respondents commented that there was variation between different publishers as to the potential benefits of using an agent such as cost and efficiency.


  • Most firms (62%) do not have plans to introduce e-readers/tablets. However a significant number (18%) do allow staff to use their own devices which are supported by the firm. 10% of firms provide devices currently whilst another 10% plan to do so in the next two years.


  • The vast majority of firms archive old editions of texts but there was large variation to what extent, many firms citing space as an obstacle.


  • There was considerable variation in attitudes towards Collection Development Policies with some people regarding them as essential and others not seeing the need.



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