In mid-March, AALL conducted a survey of law library directors to understand how the current economic crisis is affecting the profession. The survey was intended to help determine how widespread law library staffs have been affected by layoffs, furloughs, reduction of benefits, and/or budget cuts. More than 400 members responded for a 34 percent response rate.
Overall, 23 percent of law libraries have experienced staff reductions, the overwhelming number ranging from one to five full-time employees laid off. Nearly 20 percent of law libraries have eliminated vacant positions, and more than 63 percent have a hiring freeze in place at this time. Hardest hit have been the private law libraries; 30 percent have had staff reductions, and nearly 72 percent have a hiring freeze in place. Only about 10 percent of academic law libraries that responded have reduced their staffs, but 45 percent have a hiring freeze in place. A little more than 15 percent of state, court, and county law libraries that responded have experienced layoffs, and 57 percent have a hiring freeze.
In terms of budget cuts, more than 60 percent of all respondents have already experienced budget cuts. Again, private law library budgets have seen the most cuts; nearly 73 percent have been cut, and about a quarter of respondents have seen cuts of 15 percent or more. Nearly half of academic law library budgets are so far untouched, and about 40 percent of state, court, and county law library budgets also have remained steady, but many anticipate cuts in the next fiscal year.