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No business can survive without paying attention to costs, especially for those things that have a significant impact on the bottom line. With the large outlays required for staff and resources and the space required to house them, libraries certainly qualify as a major budget item. Even so, until recently, spending the money to maintain a library or information center was considered a necessary, albeit expensive, part of doing business.

Technology has changed that. Today, a significant percentage of the information used by attorneys is available to end users from their desktops. The physical library is used less and less often, leaving attorney-managers and administrators to wonder why library costs haven’t plummeted downward, as logic seemingly dictates that they should. In fact, many law firms have reduced expenditures for print materials and have also cut costs by reducing the square footage of their libraries. But while the cost of maintaining a physical library may have declined, other expenses are heading in the opposite direction; as a result, the overall cost of meeting information needs has increased.

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