The QBRA Survey

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By Kelly Laycock

As some of you may know, our publications department is currently looking into options for our popular Queen’s Bench Rules of Saskatchewan: Annotated, also known as “The Big Red Binder”. The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library would like to thank our members and subscribers who took the time to participate in our QBRA survey. We asked our readers if they might prefer a two-volume paperback annual consolidation, rather than the traditional looseleaf binder with two to three releases a year. Here are a few of the things we learned:

  • 58% of those surveyed still prefer the looseleaf format for their office, while the other 42% were interested in trying a more portable paperback format
  • An overwhelming 77% would like to see the QBRA in ebook or electronic format

For many of our respondents who preferred the Big Red Binder, it seems that their preference stemmed from it being a format they were familiar and comfortable with. As one respondent put it, “As an older person, I am naturally resistant to change”. At the opposite end of the spectrum, not necessarily in age but in format preference, we had one respondent put it simply, “Who uses paper?”

Considering the sheer variety of responses, I thought I would summarize some of the general trends we found in the answers you gave us.

Size and portability tended to be the most common reasons for a preference in the paperback format, stating it was easier for carrying around, whereas those who preferred the binder claimed that portability was less of an issue for them.  They indicated that being able to remove a page or a section from the binder was handier than using a paperback that might not lie flat on the desk. We were also told that one of the best features of the binder was that important parts can remain flagged and any notes made remain in the copy regardless of updates, but an annual edition would require an effort each year to transfer those notes over.

A few respondents were concerned that it would be wasteful to create a new paperback each year, forcing them to recycle the old copy. We at the Library are also concerned about waste, but I would like to point out that for every supplement we now create (two or three a year), approximately 200 to 300 pages are replaced and recycled each time, which can work out to be a comparable amount of waste overall.

The binder itself will stand the test of time, whereas some respondents were concerned with the quality of a paperback binding and whether it would survive a year’s worth of use. These would be considerations we would tackle with the printer, to ensure that our volumes would be durable. That being said, one respondent liked the idea of receiving a new volume each year so they wouldn’t have to be as careful when they used it!

The primary concern for most respondents was that we were providing them with up-to-date material as often as possible. Currency of information remains a concern for us as well. The binder really does lend itself best to the continuous updates throughout the year. The majority of responses said that a small cumulative supplement for the paperback would cause more hassle for research than it was worth, requiring more cross-referencing than with the binder. And the yearly consolidation would not allow for the currency most of you are accustomed to.

Ultimately, it seems that the time for a change to the format has not yet come, and so we will continue to produce releases of up-to-date information for Big Red in 2015. What we will focus on instead is finding a cost-effective solution for producing an electronic copy that the majority of our subscribers are interested in. We can’t thank you enough for your valuable contributions to this discussion.

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