Publication Title

Journal of Legal Education


law librarianship

Document Type



Under the quizzing of maiden aunts, very few five-year-olds express the hope of becoming law librarians when grown. Nor have their attitudes toward the opportunities and fascination of law librarianship altered to any discernible degree by the time they begin filling out applications for admission to law school, or reach that advanced stage in legal education marked by interviews with placement officials. This profession is not one which has distinguished itself as a goal; in short, and baldly, neophyte law librarians do not walk in and apply for positions-they have to be recruited.

Voting membership for University of Washington law library administrators was established many years ago, with adoption of a policy requiring legal training in assistants as well as in the head librarian. The late Dr. Arthur S. Beardsley, during his term as head librarian (1922 to 1944), recruited young lawyers to assistantships by wheedling, cajolery, and word pictures of security and pleasant surroundings, ably assisted by the persuasive Deans Schweppe, Shepherd, and Falknor. If, after a year or more of work in the law library, an assistant showed sufficient aptitude, Dr. Beardsley encouraged his or her enrolling in the University's School of Librarianship, even though those who attained their degrees displayed an alarming tendency toward transferring degrees and selves to higher-paying positions elsewhere.

Perhaps this tendency, with its resulting turnover in assistants, was partially responsible for the establishment, in 1940, of the law librarianship course at the University of Washington. Certainly Dr. Beardsley had a better than average opportunity to observe the omissions and superfluous details (law librarianishly speaking) in the general librarianship courses being absorbed by his procession of assistants. They were required to study children's literature along with their cataloging, reference, and book mending. They learned how to select fiction for public libraries but they didn't hear a word about noting-up British cases, aids to selection of legal materials, or the AALS, Library Standards. As long as the recruitment of lawyers and encouragement of library training has established a roll-your-own policy, the law school and the School of Librarianship combined forces to insure roundness, firmness, and full packing, by establishing a separate curriculum leading to a B.A. in law librarianship.



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