Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Membership Law Libraries Revisited

I was recently contacted by Mikhail Koulikov, Reference/Research Librarian at the New York Law Institute, in regard to a post I made last year about membership law libraries. Because of the acquisition of a couple of artifacts related to these kinds of libraries, I had already been planning another post about them. Mikhail informed me that there is still a viable role for legal libraries that are  supported largely by membership fees. He has made a case for their continuing role in an article entitled "The membership library answer to new law firm realities" in the Spring 2010 issue of PLL Perspectives, the newsletter of the American Association of Law Libraries' Private Law Libraries section. In addition to to the New York Law Institute Library, Mikhail notes two other examples of legal membership libraries, the Baltimore Bar Library and San Francisco's Mills Law Library. Previously noted were Boston's Social Law Library and Philadelphia's Jenkins Law Library which receive additional funding from the state. The two artifacts shown above are a 1884 envelope mailed by the New York Law Institute Library and an 1865 certificate for one share in the Social Law Library.  There were many of these libraries in the 19th century that haven't managed to survive. Laureen Adams and Regina Smith have written about the transition from membership law libraries to public law libraries in "The Evolution of Public Law Libraries".  Congratulations to those membership law libraries have found a way to remain relevant in the 21st century. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There used to be a membership library at John Marshall Law School called the Chicago Bar Association collection, which had cicrulating statutes, digests and administrative codes. The top 20ish law firms each pitched in about $5000 per year. The rest of the John Marshall LS collection had a much lower subscription fee. The collection and the need for the resource declined and it didn't exist after the 12/31/2001 subscriptions ended.