During the normal course of business, librarians typically get a good feel for the needs of their patrons. After all, they work directly with attorneys, paralegals and staff day in and day out. That could result in some complacency; we don't know it all, and it can be dangerous to assume that we do. As Donald Rumsfeld said so eloquently :-), and as quoted by Janet Smith in her presentation yesterday, “Unknown Unknowns: Conducting an Information Management Audit”, “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns, that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.” The problem is, Rumsfield miscalulated which knowns he knew and which ones he didn't. How do you avoid that same fate and find out about the unknown unknowns in your environment? Conduct an information management audit, of course!
Janet discussed the process they used to conduct an audit at Kirkland and Ellis, which included an extensive survey and well as interviews with selected attorneys. As a result, they were able to present to management an ambitious and detailed strategy, including planned implementation of an enterprise search engine and portal, all guided by the direct input of their constituency.
One interesting observation made by Janet was that the attorneys who expressed the most satisfaction with the status quo were those who had been with the firm for many years. They simply didn't know what they were missing. It was the laterals, those with experience with KM tools at prior firms, who made the strongest case for the need for improvements.
I think this is true across the board when it comes to technology. So, thank the laterals. Without them, we'd probably all still be using DOS. [LawLibTech]