I've been having an evil little fantasy the last couple of weeks: what if we had no books in our library? I know, I know: we just can't do it in the Canadian legal system, and our clients would become distraught. But I can't help but think: no book order messes to straighten out; no paper subscriptions to monitor; no cataloguing problems to sort through; a lot less mail to open; no loose leaf filing.
Today I added another point to the list: no missing books to track down. We've spent the past week on our annual "book recall" campaign, trying to account for all signed out books, and locate missing ones. It's a lot of work. I can't help but think about how much time we would free up if we went all electronic. Time would be spent directly with our clients, teaching lawyers, students and staff how to use the products, rather than spending all our time in the background maintaining materials. Heck, we might even be able to convince someone else to do all the infrastructure work for us if we're particularly charming.
I must admit it was a couple of the law firm libraries in New York that got me thinking this way. At first I was horrified to learn the books on the shelves were just for decoration. Why, you couldn't even reach some of the volumes because they were impossibly placed in a tall stairwell. But since returning, I've been thinking about all the clean desks and offices I saw on the tours, and can't help but wonder about the quality of my own work life without books.
Okay, okay, perhaps it's not realistic to think about this. But perhaps we can work to somehow reduce the burden of books, paper parts, loose leaf filings, not to mention current awareness materials being routed. I've just got to think of a way. A librarian's gotta dream....