Librarians face the constant challenge of showing the value of our services beyond the walls of the library itself by creating an association between library research teams and information. The key is delivering value-add information at the right time and in the right way to enable and inform decision making in support of customers and running the business. In a law firm or corporate environment, it means balancing proactive information delivery and responsive research for clients, internal departments, project teams, and management. This means resetting the service expectations of internal customers and assumptions regarding the needs of those customers. Five steps for making the shift are:
- Defining your audiences – Look at every aspect of your business and the clients you support. Where can you add value? Understand your client base, your practice areas and divisions, and your internal management structure. Don’t constrain yourselves by your existing client base. Look beyond whom you support today and define who you want to support going forward.
- Defining your services – Services should be both proactive and reactive. In the research business we want to both provide information in anticipation of potential uses and in response to direct requests. Definition of those services is key to providing consistent, reliable results. Know what you do, how you do it, and what you don’t do.
- Promoting your services – Promotion of services and the value of your team should be a continual process. Take advantage of every available medium to increase awareness and promote new offerings. Attend meetings, use your intranet or internal portal, and encourage team members to actively promote when interacting with customers. Every touch point should be an opportunity to increase awareness of you services and the value they bring.
- Providing training – Training should take many forms and support your various audiences. Research team members should be trained appropriately to deliver the services reliably and within appropriate time frames. Customers should be trained, where appropriate, to self-serve, taking advantage of additional support from the team as necessary.
- Reassessing – Value over time is dependent upon evolution. Service offerings need to change with the demands of your customers and the addition of resources to your toolkit. Setting a regular schedule for reexamining your service offerings will ensure that you are continuing to add value in supporting your organization and clients.