Publication Title

Texas Tech Law Review

Document Type



Law school faculty members have a reputation for paying attention to their libraries. They achieved that collective reputation long ago through insistence on autonomous library administration by their own kind, and they have nurtured it by exhibiting greater dependence on libraries than the members of any other discipline. Expressions of their concern and involvement are recorded repeatedly in annual reports, budget justifications, fund-raising brochures, and the proceedings of ceremonial cornerstone layings. Some have gone far beyond expressions of concern, demonstrating compulsion to devote more time to the functioning of their law libraries than has seemed necessary or interesting to the nonlaw academics.

Twenty-five years ago, some deans and law faculties paid a very personal kind of attention to their libraries. They prepared budgets, selected books, promulgated library rules, hired law student help, and left "housekeeping" details to the librarian. Some of them were not too concerned about cataloging, categorizing it as a housekeeping detail of interest primarily to large research libraries. They generally resisted classification on the theory that law books are self-classifying and when a man knows what is in the collection (as they all did) it is easier to find the treatises if they are arranged alphabetically by author. The more adventuresome drew up broad supermarket-type classifications and rearranged their treatises accordingly; a few applied their legal learning and great amounts of effort to construction of more detailed classification schedules which helped to bring order in the house but also may have contributed to the long delay in achieving a universal system of classification for law. That deans and teaching faculty could continue that kind of involvement as long as some of them did and that it seemed natural for them to do so can be attributed only to their knowledge of their collection, the relatively narrow focus of law school research, and the superiority of its research tools.

Paradoxically, this intimate involvement with law library management by patrons of all kinds, coupled with the long-established excellence of legal bibliographic control, contributed to the effectiveness of law libraries in the earlier decades and now contributes to some of their difficulties. No other profession produced so many do-it-yourself librarians or had reason to feel so smugly self-satisfied about the effectiveness of the research methods which are an ingredient of their professional education and practice. Familiarity with the functioning of the law library bred a feeling among them that this is a fairly uncomplicated exercise, and the ease with which they found their way around in legal literature made them less apprehensive than others about the effects of the information explosion. They trailed in achieving that level of discontent which must precede effective changes and the calling up of more hands for the task.



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