Hitting a Milestone, 75, 000 Volumes Online

During the August lull after the annual AALL Convention, we hit a quiet mile-stone at our plant in Kaneohe. We scanned our 75,000th volume. Of course, that’s only a number. But it does give occasion for a bit of reflection and a bit of justified pride. When our intrepid band of libraries determined to create a digital library a decade ago, we set the goal of mak-ing a significant difference in the financial and intellectual lives of our libraries.


In order to make that difference we had to hit a critical mass, to become a major part of each member library’s basic collection. We’re now crossing that threshold. At this point it is safe to say that LLMC-Digital comprises a quarter of the collection for over 80% of its subscribing law libraries. That percentage will soon enough reach a third, and, at current rates of scanning, should be at 50% at the end of the next decade.


Therefore, we can cumulatively congratulate ourselves that we have made a very sound investment. At remarkably modest cost for each separate library, we have tackled a major migration-of-format, preservation problem. And we’re well on the way to mastering it. We have moved from a world where the majority of law libraries were losing the com-petition to build comprehensive collections to one where, at least in certain defined but substantial areas, all law libraries can share the fruits of our combined efforts. In the process we have created a successor library with ongoing maintenance costs that are a fraction of what we each were separately paying in the good old hardcopy-book days.


For our law school libraries, the backbone of the enterprise and the highest-paying subscribers, annual maintenance costs are now below 12 cents per volume. For our other law library subscribers the annual maintenance costs per volume are even more remarkable. No other parts of our library operations are remotely that efficient.


That bargain will persist and become sweeter with age; since, working together, we will keep adding more titles. This operation has proven its economics. The only wise course from here on out is to just keep on realizing its potential.