THE LAW LIBRARY: FROM FACTS TO THE FUTURE



Knowledge professionals are situated at the frontage of the most auspicious period in human history. That era is referred to as the information age. The economic paradigm of that age is information based. The information age has an umbilical relationship with the legal information. Law libraries are critically established in an environment that is highly documentation driven. Documentation is indeed and in fact, the lifetime and lifeblood of any legal system. The judicial officers educators, legal practitioners and the law student is a strong ally to the legal profession.


Issues of services are considered to provide concrete foundation and guidelines of the special nature of services required in a specialized libraries such as law libraries. The nature of special service reflect the composition of the major stakeholders in the legal enterprise — judges, lawyers, legal educators and eminent law librarians. These libraries may be located in the judiciary, law faculties research institutions, private chambers, the legislature or law related institutions. The common factor to all categories of law library is the service concept. The procurement and processing of law materials are to facilitate information production and provision.


REFERENCE SERVICES AT CROSS ROAD
Meeting users needs not your needs if you Libraries and information centres are not self-creating institutions. They are rather supporting systems created to assist their institutions achieve their goals and objectives.Libraries therefore exist, to essentially meet users’ information needs. There would be no universities without students, no research institutions without researchers, no prisons without criminals, so also will libraries be unnecessary without users. Acquisition of information resources would be a waste of public funds if the resources are not consulted to enrich the mind of users. Chairs, tables, shelves and other library infrastructure would be mere objects of decorations if they are not enabling facilities for access. From acquisition to processing and organization, the critical factor is meeting user needs. It is not necessary to argue with readers at points of service provision in any library.
Those who brandish their positions and rebuff the request3, of users should understand that just as the customer is king in commercial transactions so also is the user right in service provision in the libraries. A critical feature of the present era requires corporate repositioning for strategic advantage. The repositioning imperatives are evident in the formation of mergers, alliances, buy overs and assimilation. New changes in libraries demand a repositioning in the operating environment on the part of operators. That is the whole essence of professional repositioning in the digital age. It is amazing how information professionals have placed the ostrich in the digital age. It is necessary to state here that, the digital age is a dispensation of new systems of information production and packaging. The information variable is constant but instrumental.

The core of professional training in information work is not just a theoretical understanding of knowledge and information management, it is rather how those theoretical concepts translate to meeting users information needs in a practical way. It is how the right information is provided to the right user at the right time. Right information to the right person becomes evident in an age where beyond money, men and materials, information has become the fourth capital factor. Expansions and advances in information systems have made the present age an information one. Information service institutions occupy an interfacing position. Library interfaces between information resources and the information seekers. While the seekers are becoming sophisticated in their demand, the resources are becoming more complex in their contents, scopes and contextual; papers are no longer the only carrier of information. Polymedi√£ electronics, digital and electronic systems have emerged.

HOW DOES THE LIBRARY MEET USERS NEED IN THIS CROSSROAD?
If the library exists to service the information needs of the clientele, the only logical starting point in addressing those needs is their proper diagnosis. A firm understanding of users’ need is beneficial to both the library and the librarians, the following reasons could be adduced for articulating users’ need profile.

1. To enable the library concentrate scarce funds in acquisition of need based resources. 
2. To organize the resources according to the subject profile of users.
3. To formulate information service strategies geared towards meeting identified users’ needs.
4. To fill in gaps in the collection based on emerging information needs of the organization.
5. The design of information need profile will greatly assist in selective and precise provision of information to users. On the part of the users, an understanding of their needs is essential

(a) Prompt provision of what is needed from what is wanted
(b) Right information delivery to the right person.
(c) Easy retrieval of information because the library system has been designed from the standpoint of the users and not the library professionals.
(d) Information resources accommodate users’ need profile.

In view of these enormous responsibilities, the duties of the reference services department is strategic to the entire operations of the library set up.Any service flaw in this section is tragic to hospitality objective.

Staff in reference department should professionally be friendly, articulate, versatile, fair and firm. A friendly approach to users’ inquires gives the library a positive public relation identity. A fair disposition ensures that all users are handled without discrimination based on their specific right and privileges. Firmness becomes necessary where library rules are to be enforced.

It can be seen from the foregoing that reference services delivery is the work of a trained professional

SPECIALIZATION
The sheer volume of information, the diversity of formats, the multidisciplinary context of subjects like law, medicine and agriculture imply that no single librarian could hope to know all that is available at a time. In spite of the generalist training in librarianship, subject specialist would enable more satisfactory services to users’ needs.

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