Academic Law Libraries Within the Changing Landscape of Legal Education: A Primer for Deans and Provosts
Law school deans and university provosts may ask how law libraries can deliver value as new technologies, practices, and economic pressures inspire reassessment of legal education and of higher education more generally. The proliferation of information delivery systems, trends towards centralized management of higher education infrastructure, and changes in the law practice market suggest that the traditional law library may not meet current needs. But law libraries have the potential and opportunity to deliver strong value in this environment due largely to the sophistication of today's law librarians. The law library can be a center for expertise that can advance law school and university goals with vision and efficiency.
This chapter describes the benefits that law libraries can provide through four different, though intertwined, functions: (I) to provide access to legal and law-related information; (2) to curate and preserve information and materials; (3) to provide services for scholarship, teaching, learning, and administration; and ( 4) to provide a welcoming place for people. This discussion considers how law libraries might fruitfully intersect with campus libraries, information technology, and other university infrastructure and highlights the benefits of collaboration among law libraries at different institutions. Although local goals and conditions will vary, this chapter provides insights that can apply to any academic law library.