If law firm librarians think the walls are closing in around them — and plenty do — it’s not because they’re hallucinating. Thanks to rising real estate costs and the replacement of books with electronic databases, libraries in firms are indeed shrinking, those keeping tabs on the trend say. Librarians can’t help but feel a bit unnerved by this development. But firms that think they can cut back on humans as well as shelf space will be in for a rude surprise, librarians insist.

Angst among law librarians about their future was heightened by Pillsbury Madison & Sutro’s recent move to lay off the entire library staff at the firm’s San Francisco office and farm the work out to Beverly Hills-based Library Associates. But Deborah Schwarz, president of the library management firm, says Pillsbury’s move actually bodes well for law librarians.

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