Survey: Will the PACER Fee Increase Change Your Research Habits?

Will the upcoming 25% fee increase for PACER documents change your research habits?

I wonder what other librarians and researchers are thinking about this increased cost.

If you have a moment, please take this one question poll and feel free to add comments to this post, too.

What we don’t know….RECAP/Pacer Survey

At the NOCALL Spring Institute in March, I demonstrated the RECAP plug-in.  After the presentation, one attendee stopped by and suggested that not enough librarians are using the plug-in because they just don’t know about it.  I must admit that the comment surprised me — so, I decided to do a quick survey.

With the blessing of the folks at RECAP (CITP at Princeton), I created a super simple survey trying to see  if we (librarians) know about RECAP and if we do, do we use it and teach about it.  I created a survey on Zoomerang and sent the link to the following e-mail lists: LAW-LIB, NOCALL, and All-SIS, and also spread the word on Twitter.

As of May 15th, here is what the we saw from the survey:

There were 261 completed surveys.  Law firm librarians represented 18% percent of the respondents; academic law librarians represented 70%, and state/county/federal librarians represented 6% of the replies.

Ninety percent of the respondents said that they use PACER.

However, 42.4% of the 257 folks who answered the question “Have you ever heard of RECAP?” said “no”.   The academic law librarians comprised nearly 78 percent of the “no” votes (and 63% of the “yes” votes).   Seventy-three percent of the 45 law firm librarians who responded to this question had heard of RECAP.

Seventy-two percent of the respondents said that they didn’t have RECAP installed on any computers in their library.  And, of that group, 12% don’t use the plug-in because they use IE or Chrome for their browser (plug-in not compatible with those browsers);  15% don’t have the plug-in installed because their employers don’t allow it; and the largest part, 58%, don’t have it installed because they are unfamiliar with the plug-in.

And, the last question asked if respondents provided training on RECAP or taught RECAP in advanced legal research courses.  Only 6% of the respondents said “yes” to this question.  Ninety-four percent are not providing any training or instruction on RECAP.  (Note: We have been showing our students how to use RECAP and we find that our clinic students are often most receptive to this type of training.)

I hope that after reading this survey, more librarians might want to learn more about RECAP and try to use it at work and with their patrons.  Given the new look and feel of the PACER website (launched this weekend), it is good to know that the RECAP plug-in still works just fine.  What a good time to install RECAP.

PACER Survey for Everyone

Recently, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts  launched a PACER Online Satisfaction Survey. [PACER=Public Access to Court Electronic Records]

As the A.O. is trying to get feedback from PACER users, only individuals with a PACER account may take this survey.  (Question #2 on the survey asks for your PACER account information.  You are not able to skip past Question #2)

This made me wonder: 

  • Are there folks that might want to take this survey that aren’t holders of a PACER account?
    For example, our students in Advanced Legal Research get to see what PACER looks like, but don’t have an account.  Many folks who used PACER during the pilot program might also have comments but may not have an account.  Etc. 
  • Are there individuals with PACER accounts that would prefer not to provide their account information in the survey? 
    [You are unable to skip past Question 2 which asks for the account information.]  Although the survey claims to be completely confidential, there might be folks who would prefer to answer the survey anonymously.
  • What about organizations that share a single PACER account? 
    The survey is geared to a single response from each account holder.  There might be others, such as librarians in a firm or at a school, that want to each provide unique feedback.
  • There is another category of people who might want to take the survey — students who we log on.  Sometimes they are very heavy users (e.g., $ 500) and might have some very valuable feedback.

So, after thinking about those questions, we decided to copy the core questions from the PACER survey on the A.O. site and create a second, more-open survey.

This “PACER Survey for Everyone” does not ask you to provide a PACER account number (and it doesn’t ask you for your name, as is the case in optional Question #3 on the A.O. survey).    However, all of the other questions remain the same.

This survey allows anyone, users and non-users alike, to provide the simple feedback on PACER that the A.O. wants right now.

We plan to share the results of this survey with the A.O. so they can compare and analyze this other layer of feedback.  We hope that it is useful for all.  We also plan to post the results online here, too.

PACER User Survey from the A.O.

Want to give the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts feedback on PACER?  Now is your chance.

See this new announcement on the PACER Service Center website:

The Federal Judiciary has undertaken a year-long, comprehensive program assessment. The goal of the assessment is to identify potential enhancements to existing services and new public access services that could be provided. We are gathering information through focus groups, interviews, and surveys. Please be aware you may be solicited about your views about PACER and our services with an eye towards what you, the customer, would like to see in the future.

To assist with this effort, users of PACER may participate in a short survey regarding their satisfaction with current services and any suggestions for potential enhancements. This survey will remain available to users for approximately 30 days. Please click on the following link to take this survey, and we thank you in advance for helping to improve public access to federal court documents and information:


If you have any questions about this assessment, please contact the PACER Service Center at pacer@psc.uscourts.gov.