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Legal Research Database Metrics: Jumping Over Recalcitrant Vendors

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Many years ago a teacher of management reminded his students that the people least in the loop, the ones who don’t know what is going on in their companies (or government agencies), are the ones at the top, its managers and directors. He, of course, had many excellent examples of this.

No one on the front line of any business operation, or any consumer for that matter, is surprised to hear that those at the top “haven’t a clue” what systems and procedures work (or don’t work), but it is hard to know who to fault when the information that CEOs (and the rest of us) need to have is just not available.

A law librarian colleague brought this Law Technology News article to our attention and it provides another example of the problem:

Law Librarians: ‘No More Sacred Cows,‘ by Alan Cohen, The American Lawyer, September 3, 2009

Excerpt: “… Still, librarians have become tougher, more successful negotiators when it comes to renewing contracts with publishers — thanks in no small part to the metrics they get from new tracking software. For a long time most vendors were unable, or unwilling, to provide the level of detail that would let firms truly understand their usage patterns. And there were just too many resources — often hundreds — to track. But now there’s commercially available tracking software — like Onelog, from the U.K.-based company Info Technology Supply Ltd., and Advanced Productivity Software LookUp Precision.

These products can provide in-depth metrics for all those many, many resources. For law librarians, this is hot stuff. In written comments accompanying their surveys, five librarians said that Onelog or LookUp Precision were new tools that made their job easier; four more were planning to implement one of the packages this year; another 18 said they would use it if they had the budget for it. (A third package mentioned by some library chiefs was Research Monitor from Priory Solutions.)

“The technology has only now developed to the point where a large law firm that wants to monitor 1,000 resources can do so,” says Steven Lastres, the director of library and knowledge management at Debevoise & Plimpton, which has been testing Onelog for the past six months. “We can see who is using a database and how long they are using it, how many views a newsletter is getting,” he says. The tools “will alert a lawyer that there may be a more cost-effective alternative than the resource they selected,” Lastres adds.

These systems don’t come cheap….” (link to full article)

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