|LIS 788 – Law Librarianship
Instructor: Margaret Maes Axtmann, Adjunct Professor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternate Contact Information:
Associate Director for Information Resources
University of St. Thomas, Schoenecker Law Library
Course Description: An introduction to the field of law librarianship, including history, types of law libraries, functional areas of law librarianship, policies and procedures, competencies, professional ethics, legal publishing, copyright issues, citation practices, professional associations and career paths, and current issues and trends.
Course Objectives: Students will:
Gain a critical awareness of both the history of law libraries and the current issues facing law libraries
Become familiar with the three main types of law libraries, including their organizational structures, collections, services, and staffing
Develop an understanding of the core competencies of law librarianship as well as specialized or advanced competencies
Learn about the history of legal publishing and the current legal information environment
Develop an understanding of the shared values of law librarianship, including professional ethics, service commitment, professional networking, and active participation in professional associations.
Course Requirements: Course requirements include assigned readings, class participation, and three written assignments over the course of the semester. The course will be graded as follows: research paper on a current issue or trend in law librarianship (35%); law library site visit review and written report (25%); discussion of a law library policy issue and preparation of a written policy to address that issue (25%); assigned readings, as evidenced by class attendance and participation in discussion (15%).
I will take attendance at each class. Please notify me if you are going to miss a class so that we can discuss make-up work.
Schedule: The class will meet on Saturdays, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on the following dates: Jan. 15, Jan. 29, Feb. 12, Feb. 26, Mar. 12, Apr. 2, Apr. 16, Apr. 23. There is no final exam, and we will not meet during the exam period.
1) Introduction to the course
What it will cover
Rhythm of the day – breaks, snacks, lunches, etc.
2) Personal stories
Questionnaire to fill out in class plus some group sharing
3) History of law librarianship:
Brock, Christine A., Law Libraries and Librarians: A Revisionist History; or More Than You Ever Wanted to Know, 67 Law Libr. J. 325 (1974).
1) Introduction to the profession and competencies for law librarians
AALL Task Force to Enhance Law Librarianship Education. Education for a Career in Law Librarianship. Published on AALLNET, 2000?
Whisner, Mary. Choosing Law Librarianship: Thoughts for People Contemplating a Career Move. Published on the web by LLRX.com, Aug. 2, 1999.
AALL Competencies of Law Librarianship, adopted 2001.
SLA Competencies for Information Professionals, rev. ed., June 2003.
2) Introduction to academic law libraries: operations, collections, clientele, services
Standards for Approval of Law Schools and Interpretations, Chapter 6, Library and Information Resources. Updated annually, 2004-05 edition is at:
Danner, Richard A. Law School Libraries. In Drake, Miriam, Eds. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, 2d ed., pages 1503-1512.
Levor, Ruth. The Unique Role of Academic Law Libraries. In the Marketing Toolkit for Academic Law Libraries, published on the web by the AALL Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section, 2004.
Kelsh, Virginia J. Why We Need Academic Law Librarians: Adding Value to the Law School. In the Marketing Toolkit for Academic Law Libraries, published on the web by the AALL Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section, 2004.
3) Hand out site visit assignment and go over instructions
4) Guest speaker on academic law libraries:
Suzanne Thorpe, Associate Director for Faculty & Public Services, University of Minnesota Law Library
1) Working in a law library: collection development, selection, and acquisitions
Axtmann, Margaret Maes. The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: Collection Development in the 21st Century, AALL Spectrum 6-7 (Nov. 2001).
(link to the full issue, then go to p.6 of the issue)
Heller, James. Collection Development & Weeding á la Versace: Fashioning a Policy for your Library, AALL Spectrum 12-13, 15 (Feb. 2002).
(link to the full issue, then go to p.12 of the issue)
Silber, Karen. Every Library is Special and So Is Its Collection Development Policy, AALL Spectrum 10-11, 38 (Dec. 1999).
(link to the full issue, then go to p.10 of the issue)
2) Introduction to state, court, and county law libraries
American Association of Law Libraries. County Public Law Library Standards, adopted 2002, 95 Law Libr. J. 117 (2003).
Appellate Court Law Library Standards, adopted 1996.
The Value of a Public Law Library. AALL State Court & County Law Libraries Special Interest Section Resource Guide No.2, 2004?
3) Guest speaker on government and court libraries:
Sara Galligan, Law Library Manager, Dakota County Law Library
1) Site visit assignments due at the beginning of class
2) Working in a law library: cataloging, serials, processing, and binding
Thomas, Joe. Members Briefing: Technical Services Law Librarianship, AALL Spectrum, 17-20 (April 2000).
(link to the full issue, then go to p. 17 of the issue)
3) Introduction to private law firm and corporate law libraries
Estes, Mark E. Law Firm Libraries. In Drake, Miriam, Eds. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, 2d ed., pages 1495-1502.
Private Law Librarian Standards. AALL Private Law Libraries Special Interest Section, 2003.
4) Guest speaker on law firm libraries:
Pat Cummings, Director of Research Services, Leonard, Street and Deinard
1) Policy assignments due at the beginning of class
2) Class reports on site visits
3) Working in a law library: reference, access services
Healey, Paul D. In Search of the Delicate Balance: Legal and Ethical Questions in Assisting the Pro Se Patron, 90 Law Libr. J. 129 (1998).
Whisner, Mary. RE: Memos, 95 Law Libr. J. 601 (2003).
4) Legal publishing and the legal information environment
Svengalis, Kendall F. Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual. 2004 ed. Review Table of Contents and read Chapters 1 and 2, p.2-18.
CRIVPage. American Association of Law Libraries, Committee on Relations with Information Vendors.
(review the various parts of the webpage)
5) Research paper topics due
6) Professional association event at CSC - we will make time to attend this
1) Guest speaker on working for a legal information vendor:
Priscilla Stultz, Librarian Relations Consultant, LexisNexis
2) Working in a law library: administration, specialized positions
Bredemeyer, Carol. What Do Directors Do? 96 Law Libr. J. 317 (2004).
3) Guest speaker on the transformation in the way people do research:
Ed Edmonds, Director and Professor of Law
University of St. Thomas Schoenecker Law Library
Danner, Richard A. Contemporary and Future Directions in American Legal Research: Responding to the Threat of the Available, 31 Int’l. J. Legal Info. 179 (2003).
1) Research papers due at the beginning of class
2) Class presentations on research paper topics
3) Professional associations and career paths
George, Paul M. Care and Maintenance of the Successful Career: How Experienced Law Librarians Make Their Work Rewarding, 93 Law Libr. J. 535 (2001).
Houdek, Frank G., comp. “alt.lawlibrarian”: New Career Paths for Law Librarians, 93 Law Libr. J. 375 (2001).
Parent, Roger H. American Association of Law Libraries. In Drake, Miriam, Eds. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, 2d ed., pages 101-109.
Lori Hedstrom, Senior Manager, West Librarian Relations
Secretary, Special Libraries Association Legal Division
Mary Wells, Research Librarian, University of St. Thomas Law Library
President, Minnesota Association of Law Libraries
Nina Platt, Director of Information Resources, Faegre & Benson LLP
Executive Board Member, American Association of Law Libraries
Current issues and trends: Students will be assigned a specific group of readings.
1) Professional ethics
American Library Association, Code of Ethics
AALL Ethical Principles:
Axtmann, Margaret Maes. AALL and the Code of Ethics: Time for a Change?, AALL Spectrum 13 (Nov. 1997).
(link to the full issue, then go to p.13 of the issue)
Monaco, Ralph A. Revision of the AALL Code of Ethics: Role of an Ethics Code, AALL Spectrum 14-15, 18-19 (Nov. 1997).
(link to the full issue, then go to p.13 of the issue)
2) Preservation of legal information
Seo, Hilary T. Preserving Print Legal Information, 96 Law Libr. J. 581 (2004).
Danner, Richard A. Issues in the Preservation of Born-digital Scholarly Communications in Law, 96 Law Libr. J. 591 (2004).
Additional resource: Legal Information Preservation Alliance website:
3) Information policy and legislative issues
Hernon, Peter and Relyea, Harold C. Information Policy. In Drake, Miriam, Eds. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, 2d ed., pages 1300-1315.
Sandwell-Weiss, Leah. Putting Ideals into Action, AALL Spectrum 12-15, 24 (April 2005).
Additional resource: AALL Washington Affairs website:
4) Future of law libraries
Beyond the Boundaries: Report of the Special Committee on the Future of Law Libraries in the Digital Age. Chicago: American Association of Law Libraries, 2002.
Posted on Blackboard. Specific readings assigned to each group.