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Building the Best Legal Library at the Lowest Cost

Building the Best Legal Library at the Lowest Cost

Posted by justis1 | 17 April 2014

Budget is often the chief constraint when assembling a legal library. Though some may be fortunate enough to have a slush fund granted or a budget increase approved, the reality for most is that the time approaching the new budgetary year is a stressful one. With a set amount for the year ahead, meeting the demand for additional resources and maintaining existing subscriptions, while reducing spend in the face of inflationary price increases, can make staying in budget seem like an uphill battle.

The ideal would be to have access to everything without budget registering as an issue; however, failing this, the next best is thing is to utilise your budget to build the best legal library at the lowest cost. Below we list factors to consider when allocating your budget.

Is it available elsewhere?

Certain titles are provided by only one database or are only available directly from the producer, but if the same series is obtainable through different publishers, it is worth comparing access levels, usability and cost to ensure you have the most efficient deal. It is also worth considering whether the cases you want access to would be equally as workable in a different format.

Do you need it in that format?

All cases from the courts of England and Wales should be available in their official transcript format. These cases may be reported in multiple different series, while those unselected by publishers remain as unreported judgments. Title series and case coverage varies – is there a reason you are buying a particular series? Are the cases you want available elsewhere, either in a different series or as part of a wider collection? When online cases first became available many simply switched from hardcopy to online access; however, there are now more publishers and titles available than ever before and checking the alternatives may provide you with a more cost-efficient solution.

Could you benefit from a longer-term commitment?

Many publishers offer incentives should you decide to subscribe to their service for more than one year – ranging from a fixed price to a percentage discount on the overall cost. If you believe that the resource is one that can continue to benefit you over the coming years, it may make sense to commit, especially if doing so removes the worry of price and inflation increases. Certain titles are also offered on a perpetual subscription basis. This larger upfront cost can be a great way of using up budget that may be lost come the start of a new budgetary year. If viewed as a longer term investment, the price per year can be significantly less and the subscription can be equated to a hard copy collection.

Return on your Investment

In times of limited budget, the first impulse it to cut back on expenditure. When purchasing hard copy, content is key as, to an extent, one book is as readable as another. However, with online resources you are not purely investing in titles, you are investing in the usability and efficiency of a database too. If it’s extremely user-friendly, if it could minimise the time spent on research – these are factors that should be weighed against the subscription price. Using a return on investment analysis can ensure that you are investing your money in databases that will benefit the company, rather than simply buying resources that will aid them.

Reducing duplication

A minimal amount of overlap is unavoidable; some cases are so important that they will be covered in several series. However, is there a reason that you duplicate your hard copy and online subscriptions? With titles covering similar cases, is there a preferred series that tends to be used above others? Reducing duplication can cut costs and ensure that you are not paying twice for the same thing.

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