William R. Roalfe: Builder of Libraries, Scholar, Association Animal
Director of the Law Library and Professor
and Information Resources & Library Science
Men do not always make history and they never make it alone.
Yet the contribution of one man frequently has a lasting influence in his
chosen field of endeavor. - William R. Roalfe1
William Robert “Bob” Roalfe wrote these
words in describing the contributions of John Henry Wigmore to Northwestern
University School of Law, but he just as easily could have been talking
about himself. His long career spans the history of law librarianship from
a time when academic, law firm, state and court law libraries were small
operations, often lucky to be staffed by a single professional, to the explosive
growth of law libraries and legal materials in the 1960s and 1970s. His
productive professional life was dedicated to service to others and to the
development of the art and science of law librarianship. While he spent
several years in private practice prior to his first job as a law librarian
and served as a government attorney during World War II, he was first and
foremost a librarian - a builder of collections and provider of library
service to the legal community.
He made the Duke and Northwestern Law Libraries great, both through the
building of their collections and in the development of staffs and services.
He was also a scholar and teacher who wrote about a wide range of concerns
to law librarians and the legal profession, from teaching legal research
and writing, to collection development, to the need for professional organizations
to serve the profession. Most significantly, he was a strong advocate for
the profession, and as his long and distinguished service to professional
organizations testifies, he was above all an “association animal.” Professor
Roalfe was an active member of almost a dozen professional organizations,
most notably the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and the International
Association of Law Libraries (IALL). He saw professional organizations as
vital to the improvement not only of law librarianship but also, quite literally,
of the world. His service to AALL encompasses a time from when annual meetings
of AALL drew fifty members to the late 1970s when meetings began to be attended
by more than a thousand people, and it was through the guidance of Roalfe
and his Expansion Plan that the Association would grow and flourish during
This chapter examines Roalfe's impact on law librarianship in these three
areas: (1) the building of the Duke and Northwestern Law Libraries; (2)
his scholarship; and (3) his involvement in regional, national and international
professional organizations, most notably AALL, the International Association
of Law Libraries (IALL) and the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).
Particular attention is paid to the Roalfe Plan, without a doubt his single
most important contribution to law librarianship.
An exhaustive, annotated bibliography of works by and about Roalfe accompanies
I. Builder of Libraries
Law librarianship was not Roalfe's first chosen profession. Upon graduating
from the University of Southern California with an LL.B. in 1921, he practiced
law, first with the law firm of O'Melveny, Milliken and Tuller and then
in his own practice. He also worked for a time as a construction supervisor
before accepting a job at the University of Southern California as its Law
Librarian in 1927. At the age of thirty he had finally found a career and
a profession he could call his own, one which would consume him for the
next forty years. Little is recorded of his short tenure as Librarian at
USC. He left in 1930 to become the first Director of the Duke University
Law School Library. It was at Duke that he would establish himself as a
major force in the profession and a librarian of the first rank.
While Duke Law School traces its history back to 1868, it was not until
1904 that it became a separate School of Law and 1930 that it reorganized
and became a full-time graduate program. Its first class arrived that fall.
Roalfe and those first-year students arrived in Durham, North Carolina,
at what was at the time considered an undistinguished university. Duke did,
however, have something which few other law schools and universities had
in 1930 - money, and lots of it. A $30 million endowment, given by the Duke
family in honor of Benjamin Duke, allowed the small North Carolina college,
Trinity, to become a major university, Duke University. This provided Roalfe
with a luxury of resources few other libraries of the time enjoyed. In effect,
Roalfe was charged with the building of a law library and a staff for a
new law school. He quickly set out to do just that, and as with any task
Roalfe undertook, he would do it well.
One of the first things Roalfe set out to do was build the collection.
He was able not only to purchase new materials but also to purchase large
quantities of books through the used book market. For those with resources,
the Depression was a good time to develop a collection with so many institutions
looking to raise funds to stay in business. Thanks to Roalfe, the Duke Law
Library today has many old and rare materials in its collection which at
one time were in small private collections and large academic law libraries.
Many libraries such as Cornell and Harvard withdrew from their collections
second copies and sold them to used book dealers. The Duke Law Library Archives
contain correspondence between Roalfe and several used book dealers about
the building of this collection. One dealer, Judge William H. Sawyer, was
a Superior Court Judge from Concord, New Hampshire who bought and sold law
collections on the side. In one letter to Roalfe he mentioned his recent
purchase and the offering for sale of the law collection of Justice William
M. Chase of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.2 Included
in this collection was a first edition of Kent's Commentaries. One
cannot help but wonder if this sale was brought about by the necessities
of the Depression or if Sawyer was merely a thrifty New Englander looking
to earn an extra dollar.
Roalfe's years at Duke were busy and successful ones. In a Law Library
Journal article, “The Duke University Law Library: An
Account of Its Development,”3 Roalfe
reported that from 1930 to 1940 the collection grew from 11,141 to 65,158
volumes - a 580% increase in size in ten years! In 1930, the library's
collection ranked fortieth among law school collections; just two years
later, it was ranked twentieth. By 1940 the Law Library was the largest
in the South. The task of organizing the quickly growing collection through
cataloging and classification was no small task. To do this he needed
to build up the law library staff. In 1930 the library staff consisted
of Roalfe, a cataloger and a secretary, and by 1941 the staff was doubled
While at Duke, Roalfe also began publishing
a bibliography entitled “Current
Legal Publications.” This was a current awareness service which kept
the Duke faculty informed of the latest legal publications. It was so
well received that it began to be published in the Duke Law School Bulletin,
and Roalfe was given the responsibility of publishing the Bulletin. “Current
Legal Publications” was such a popular book selection tool that many
libraries received a copy of the Duke Law Bulletin specifically
for the list. It appeared irregularly in the Law Library Journal (LLJ)
from 1942 to 1943. When Roalfe moved on to Northwestern, “Current
Legal Publications” was revived, and from 1944 to 1950 it again appeared
in LLJ.5 Its popularity
would eventually result in its being regularly published in Law Library
Journal, first appearing in May 1952.6
In 1942 Roalfe took a leave from Duke to serve as legal counsel in the
Court Review, Research and Opinion Branch of the Office of Price Administration.
At the age of forty-six he was too old to serve in the military, but as
a government lawyer he could still serve his country. In 1944 he became
Chief Counsel of the Cereals, Feed and Agricultural Chemicals Branch of
the Food Price Division of the Office of Price Administration, a position
he held until 1946.
Perhaps feeling that he needed new challenges, shortly after his return
to Duke in 1946, Roalfe accepted an offer to become the Director of Northwestern
University's Elbert H. Gary Law Library. Roalfe wrote an article in LLJ
which described what he faced upon arriving at Northwestern. In it he described
the effect of Wigmore on Northwestern Law School and legal education. As
the quote which begins this chapter indicates, Roalfe not only had great
respect for the man but also saw in Wigmore qualities which Roalfe himself
respected and strove to possess. Clearly, he saw in Wigmore a kindred spirit
- a spirit which Roalfe now wanted to carry on. Like Wigmore, he wanted
to help Northwestern achieve greatness.7
Roalfe quickly set about rebuilding the collection
and staff of the library. During World War II the library had reached
an “all time low.” Class
size shrank and with it, tuition dollars and demands for service were reduced
to a trickle. Staff size “fell even below the maintenance level.” When
Roalfe joined the staff of the Law Library it had a full-time staff of
four persons and a part-time staff of eighteen. This was clearly inadequate
given the demands of the post-World War II students on the GI Bill who returned
to school in droves.8
In 1946 Roalfe developed a plan which had five
objectives: (1) organization
of an adequate staff; (2) rehabilitation and further development of the
collection; (3) reorganization of all processing operations; (4) extension
of library service; and (5) development of cooperation with other libraries,
participation in the work of professional organizations and contributions
to the literature of the field. In effect, he was describing his life's
work.9 He would eventually
meet those goals. Staff grew from four professional and eighteen part-time
staff in September of 1946 to ten full-time and twenty-two part-time employees
in March of 1949. The foreign collection grew under the guidance of Kurt
Schwerin. Serial check-in records were improved; the collection was classified;
research support was increased; Roalfe began teaching a legal research and
writing course; and he helped found the Chicago Association of Law Libraries,
through which he worked for cooperation among law libraries in the Chicago
II. The Scholar
As the accompanying bibliography attests, Roalfe
was also a prolific writer. This is especially impressive when one considers
that this writing took place while he was building the libraries at Duke
and Northwestern. Through his writings Roalfe sought to teach others modern
library practices and address the important issues of the day. His writings
and correspondence show a deep concern for a wide range of problems facing
the profession: the
effective teaching of legal research and writing, the education of law
librarians, the future of AALL, the nature and content of Law Library Journal, law
library accreditation standards, the status of law librarians, the need
for interlibrary and inter-organizational cooperation, the growth of law
book publishing and the ethics of vendor support of conventions.
It did not take long for Roalfe to establish
himself as a scholar and careful thinker. By the early 1930s Roalfe was
frequently sought as a speaker at annual meetings of AALL, where he regularly
presented papers. Early in his career, he often felt that there were those
better qualified to give a particular paper, but when prevailed upon,
he would always agree to do his best. For example, in 1932 Roalfe received
a letter from Frederick Hicks, Law Librarian at Yale, asking Roalfe to
speak at the annual meeting of AALS on “Status
and Qualifications of Law School Librarians.”11 Roalfe
hesitated because he had only an LL.B., and hence felt unqualified to speak
on the qualifications of law librarians. He was a strong believer in the
value of professional training in librarianship and since he himself lacked
such training, he felt uneasy about advocating that a library school degree
was an essential requirement for a qualified librarian. Hicks, however,
was certain that Roalfe was perfect for the job. Roalfe had clearly given
the matter careful consideration and his perspective would be invaluable.
Ultimately, Hicks prevailed, and Roalfe agreed to present a paper which
would eventually be published in the American Law Review.12
Roalfe's desire for professional growth led him to carry on an active correspondence
on the issues of the day with many of the leaders of the profession, but
particularly with Frederick Hicks. Hicks was the most important and influential
law librarian of his day. It should not be surprising that this relatively
young law librarian became such a close friend and colleague of one of the
giants of the prior generation of law librarians. However, one must remember
that at the time the profession was much smaller, with annual meetings almost
intimate affairs in small hotels. Thus, it was very easy for law librarians
to get to know one another, and it is hard to imagine that a man of Roalfe's
energy and drive escaped notice for long. It was inevitable that their paths
would cross early in Roalfe's career.
It is apparent from Hicks' correspondence that
he admired this young law librarian. In a particularly telling series
of correspondence, Hicks cautions Roalfe to reconsider a comment Roalfe
had made in a report concerning lawyers. Hicks suggested that Roalfe change
the language in the offending report which stated that a large number
of lawyers “are hardly entitled to
be classed as belonging to a learned profession” to “a large
number of lawyers need the help of law librarians in order to live up to
the standard of scholarship and learning which has traditionally been set
for the profession.” Roalfe appreciated Hicks' suggestions and replied, “[Y]ou
are quite correct in pointing out the inadvisability of having any statement
in this report which might give offense.”13
They corresponded regularly through the years and Roalfe, who viewed Hicks
as his mentor, was greatly saddened by his death in 1956. It was Roalfe
who would write Hicks' biography for Law Library Journal. 14
Roalfe published a trio of articles in Law Library Journal which
established him as one of the deep thinkers of the profession. The articles, “The
Relation of the Library to Legal Education,”15 “The
Essentials of an Effective Law School Library Service,”16 and “Some
Suggestions for Improving the Law School Library Service,” 17 articulated
his philosophy of law librarianship. While the articles were written
within the context of the academic law library, much of what Roalfe wrote
was equally applicable to any law library. The first article described the
challenges which law school libraries face, particularly with the current
method of teaching through the Socratic method; the second article focused
on what a good law library should provide in the way of facilities and services;
and the third focused on how libraries should change to meet the challenges
of the future. He saw the profession changing from one of caretaker to
one of provider of a wide range of research services. There is almost a
public relations tone to the articles. He seemed to be saying that if given
the chance, librarians can do much to serve library users, and both they
and the institution will be the better for it. He particularly bemoaned
the failure of law schools to provide sufficient skills training, especially
in legal research. He wrote:
[T]o the extent that the case book continues to
blind teachers to the necessity of supplementing this method of instruction
by actual practice in the use of the original materials themselves, there
is the greatest danger that these advantages are being bought at too great
a price. … Unquestionably conditions are radically wrong in the law
schools where the libraries are merely convenient places in which students
may read their case books rather than “extremely important teaching
It was at Northwestern that Roalfe reached
his prime as both scholar and elder statesman of law librarianship. He
wrote numerous articles and four books: The Libraries of the
Legal Profession: A Study Prepared
for the Survey of the Legal Profession under the Auspices of American
Bar Association (1954); the fifth and sixth editions of How to
Find the Law (1957, 1965); and John Henry Wigmore: Scholar
and Reformer (1977).19 Each
in its own way was a significant contributions to legal scholarship (see
Libraries of the Legal Profession was a monumental work.20 Based
upon a survey under the auspices of the American Bar Association, this work
was the first and, to date, only attempt to investigate and chronicle the
current state of law libraries throughout the profession. The report covered
collections, facilities, equipment, furniture, personnel, services provided,
public relations and cooperation among libraries and among professional
groups. Roalfe surveyed law firm, company, county, state, federal, court
and association law libraries. The only significant group excluded from
the study was law school libraries. The ABA felt their inclusion was unnecessary
because of a previous study of law schools.21 Roalfe
strongly disagreed, and while he did not survey the law school libraries,
he does have some comments about the role they play in service to the bar.22 Roalfe
also spent considerable space in the book explaining and promoting the
role of AALL in the life of law libraries. He could not miss an opportunity
to proselytize. He stressed the importance of cooperation between law libraries
of all types and the positive role AALL and local law library associations
played in this cooperation. In this discussion there was some, be it
intentional or unintentional, self promoting by Roalfe. Roalfe spent considerable
time explaining the progress of two endeavors he helped develop: the
AALL Expansion Plan 23 and
the “pioneer efforts” of the Carolina Law Librarians. 24
If one were to read only one work by Roalfe
in the hopes of understanding his philosophy of law librarianship, this
would be it. Roalfe used the survey to describe the current state of law
libraries and law librarianship and the need for reform. Roalfe finally
had his bully pulpit, and he was not about to waste it. He “educated”the
bar on the growth of legal materials, the ability of law libraries to
serve their patrons and the services well-funded libraries can provide.
While at Northwestern, Roalfe also became the editor of the legal bibliography
classic, How to Find the Law. He edited the fifth and sixth editions.
The fifth edition was organized significantly differently from the fourth
edition by Carlton B. Putnam.25 While,
like Putnam, he used contributing authors, Roalfe brought together a
completely new team to write the book. He also tried to adhere to the philosophy
is more.” He made a concerted effort “to keep the text within
reasonable limits”and he said that “the temptation to add further
detail although they are obviously important has been consciously resisted.”26 The
book was to be used primarily as a text for students, not as a reference
source for librarians.
The sixth edition is notable in that he included for the first time four
extra chapters on legal writing - no doubt because at the time he was teaching
legal research and writing at Northwestern.
Three years prior to Roalfe's arrival at Northwestern, one of America's
greatest legal minds and former Dean of the Northwestern Law School, John
Henry Wigmore, died. Wigmore clearly left his mark on Northwestern and Roalfe
had greatly respected the man, as the quote at the beginning of this article
testifies. Roalfe devoted much of his time at Northwestern as well as a
significant portion of his retirement chronicling the life and times of
Wigmore. The end result was two articles and the definitive biography of
the life of the former Dean and legal scholar. John Henry Wigmore: Scholar
And Reformer (1977) was based upon the archives of Wigmore which are
housed at Northwestern as well as personal interviews conducted by Roalfe
with those who knew Wigmore.
The talks Roalfe gave and the articles he wrote
covered a variety of subjects, but they all had a common thread: the
value of good professional librarians and the need for change in the way
things were currently being done. Roalfe looked to improve everything
he found and was rarely satisfied with the status quo. He presented a
paper or talk at virtually every annual meeting of AALL he attended. At
the 1957 annual meeting of AALL Roalfe rose to speak:
I have appeared before the members
of this association so many times over the years that I am always concerned
about my capacity to come forward with anything new. I feel a good deal
like the minister who preaches to his congregation Sunday after Sunday
and has the same misgivings. One day the minister's young son said, “Dad, why do you pray so hard every
Sunday morning before you go to church?” The father replied, “I
pray to God to give me the power to say something new - something original
and inspiring.” After a moment the young son asked with the directness
and incisiveness characteristic of children, “Well, Dad, why doesn't
God help you.”27
These words, while spoken in jest, actually are appropriate in understanding
Roalfe's role in his chosen profession. Through his writings and talks he
was law librarianship's minister. He was the one the profession always looked
to for guidance and thoughtful introspection, ever the serious professional
when it came the advancement of the work of the profession. He had a deep
and abiding faith in the worth of law librarians within legal education
and the practice of law. His articles in the Journal of Legal Education and
the ABA Journal actually seem a little preachy because he wrote
them in the hope of converting those who would read them to the value of
good law library service.
III. Association Animal
Roalfe's life would be significant if his scholarship were the only record
he left. What makes his life so extraordinary, however, is that he not only
identified and wrote about the problems law libraries and law librarians
of his day faced, but that he also dedicated his professional life to doing
something to resolve them.
Roalfe may have been the ultimate Association insider; if there was an
association out there that could potentially have impact on his profession,
he was sure to join and actively participate in its work. It is hard to
imagine how he could have been more professionally active. He not only participated
in these groups, he dominated them.28 He
was always to be found on the toughest and most important committees or
task forces and was always their most diligent and active member. In an
article based upon a panel discussion of the organization and structure
of AALL, Roalfe set out, in exact detail, how one should chair a committee.29 It
should be required reading for anyone who is ever called upon to serve in
that capacity. In the accompanying bibliography a summary of his advice
is included. It is clear from his papers that he practiced what he preached.
He took the duty of committee work seriously and expected others to do the
Roalfe's correspondence is full of expressions of frustration over committee
members who failed to do their work. In one particularly pointed communication
to a committee he chaired, he scolded:
As some members of the Committee even find returning a post card
more of an effort than they can manage, I believe I had better lay down
the rule that I will assume that any member who does not respond to a communication
within a reasonable length of time either agrees with the proposals that
have been advanced or is willing to let the other members of the Committee
make the decision. 30
In response to a letter from Arthur Charpentier,
Librarian at Yale Law School, in which he declined an invitation to serve
on a committee which Roalfe chaired, Roalfe explained why he selected
certain people for committee assignments, “If we exclude busy people
[from the committee] not very much would be done.”31
Roalfe clearly believed that involvement in
professional organizations was central to the work of a competent law
librarian, and he was involved in a number of ways: regionally,
nationally and internationally.
A. Regional Associations: The
and the Chicago Chapter
In 1937, while at Duke, Roalfe set about to do something which for the
rest of his life he would seem to do better than any other - help organize
an association of law library professionals. In this case it would be a
regional association of law librarians, the first of its type in the United
States. Roalfe gathered with nine other North Carolina law librarians in
October of 1937 to establish an organization to be named the North Carolina
In 1938, with the inclusion of the Law Librarian
from the University of South Carolina, the group expanded and renamed
itself the Carolina Law Librarians. Never satisfied with the status quo,
it was Roalfe who proposed at its October 1939 meeting that the Carolina
Law Librarians apply for chapter status in AALL. AALL accepted the petition
of the Carolina group on two conditions: the
chapter would create a written constitution and the name of the group
would be changed to acknowledge its relationship to AALL. Roalfe himself
wrote the constitution and the name was changed to the Carolina Chapter
of the American Association of Law Libraries. This was the first regional
association of law libraries and AALL's first officially recognized chapter.
This group would ultimately become the South Eastern Chapter of AALL,
better know as SEAALL.32
When Roalfe began at Northwestern, he adopted a familiar plan of action.
As he had done in North Carolina, he quickly became a force among the local
law librarians. On February 20, 1947, he was one of seventeen law librarians
who met to form the Chicago Association of Law Librarians and, not surprisingly,
Roalfe would serve as its first president. Charles McNabb, in recounting
the founding of the Chicago Chapter, recalled his first encounter with Roalfe.
I told him I had been selling cooperation
in Chicago for years and that I had done everything with the institutions
involved; I had made them loan each other books; I had made them permit
each other to use their facilities, and I had done quite a bit of missionary
work, except to organize them. He said, “Why don't we do it?” If
you haven't had any experience with Bob Roalfe, let me warn you now, you
are either prepared to go along with it or you keep your mouth shut, because
if you suggest a good idea to him, the next thing you know it has happened.33
B. National: AALL and the
Roalfe's lifelong dedication to those professional organizations to which
he belonged is remarkable. This is particularly true when it comes to his
service in AALL. His value to the Association can be measured in part by
the importance of the committees to which he was assigned and the leadership
roles he played on them. Invariably Roalfe was in the thick of the most
important issues of the day. In 1959 the Association chose to acknowledge
Roalfe's service and presented him with an AALL Recognition Award.
Looking back, one will never know if Roalfe
had any idea what he was setting in motion when he wrote a long letter
to Rosamund Parma, the president of AALL in 1930. That letter set in motion
a chain of events that would ultimately define Roalfe's professional life
as a law librarian. What is clear is that the impact of the letter was
immediate and profound. It would result in what would perhaps become his
most lasting contribution to law librarianship: The
Roalfe Plan. Also known as the Expansion Plan, the Roalfe Plan called
for a total reorganization and expansion of the operations and services
of the American Association of Law Libraries. Much of today's AALL organizational
structure is a direct result of this plan. The plan would make him the
dominant figure in Association history for the next thirty years. While
much of what was proposed in the letter has come to pass, it was a long
time in coming. Even today, the letter raises issues central to current
discussions on the role of the Association.
Roalfe wrote the letter at a time of extraordinary growth in the profession
- but that growth is relative. Membership in AALL was approximately 200
members, with about 50 of those members attending annual meetings. Meetings
were held in conjunction with the National Association of State Libraries
or the American Library Association. Several of those who attended annual
meetings were among the twenty-four law librarians who gathered on Narragansett
Pier in Rhode Island on July 2, 1906 to form the American Association of
Law Libraries. Yet the organization was no longer what it once was. Individuals
like Roalfe recognized that the potential of the organization and the profession
was not being met. While others undoubtedly felt the need of the Association
to grow and adapt to the changing profession, it was Roalfe who decided
to do something about it.
A Letter to the President of the Association September
Miss Rosamond Parma, Librarian,
School of Jurisprudence, University of California,
Dear Miss Parma:
Ever since you were elected
President of the Association I have planned to write to you regarding
a matter which has occupied my thought and attention for some time, and
without any apology I will now do so in the hope that the ideas set forth
may be of some constructive value.
While I am a comparatively
new member of this Association I have had considerable experience in working
with groups and I am, therefore, aware of most of the difficulties which
confront the officials of an association such as ours. For this reason
I am venturing to suggest that there is a step which we might take, and
which would, in my opinion, go a long way toward making our group the
cohesive and constructive agency which it should be, if we are to make
the most of this profession to which we are devoting the better part of
our lives. I hope I will not be misunderstood when I venture the opinion
that the Association is not beginning to take advantage of the opportunities
which lie before it. This is not a criticism of present or past officials
or, in fact, of individuals of any kind. I believe that the reason is
to be found solely in the structure of our organization which suffers
from an inherent defect that has long since been recognized by many business
and trade groups, as well as by all the more established professions.
To come directly to the
point, I think you will agree with me that every group organization which
has achieved conspicuous results has at least one or more paid full time
persons on its staff, and in my opinion this is the most vital step which
lies before the American Association of Law Libraries. We members, and
this includes the officials, are hard pressed at all times by the tasks
which lie before us in connection with our specific libraries, and regardless
of what our intentions may be we are not able to think out problems of
the group as a whole first, but must delegate them to second place at
least, and frequently we dismiss them altogether. In a busy age like our
own this is inevitable, and the proof of this lies in the experience of
many other groups which have found it necessary to take the step which
I am proposing.
To one side of us exists
the highly organized and the decidedly effective general library profession,
and its organization has certainly suggested some of the things which
we may do for our particular field, although in a specialized way and
on a smaller scale. On the other side we have the legal profession, one
which has been somewhat reluctant to organize and act cooperatively, but
is rapidly passing into a new phase, a notable example of which is the
new State Bar movement which is gaining considerable momentum. Still a
third professional group come in contact with our daily work, particularly
in the case of law school libraries, and this is the teaching profession
behind which stands the highly organized academic world. Recent developments
in the organized life of the teaching profession have played an important
part in the raising of their standards and in obtaining the type of recognition
which is more and more coming to them. In the case of all of these three
professions we will generally find that the individual members receive
higher recognition, both as to standing and as to financial remuneration.
In my opinion all of these
things go together and the one thing in which probably all law librarians
agree, namely, that they are not adequately paid, depends for its alleviation
upon much persistent constructive work including the appropriate education
of those to whom we are responsible in order that they may appreciate
our needs and give adequate support to our work. In this, all of the active
members of our profession should join, but if we are to be intelligent
about it we must also create an instrumentality adapted to our needs and
to the age in which we live in order that we may confidently expect genuine
I do not wish to be misunderstood
as advocating the elimination of the voluntary officials, and of the voluntary
work, nor am I minimizing the substantial results which have been accomplished
in the past. In my opinion all of this voluntary effort could be enhanced
one hundred per cent if there were a minimum staff on the job at all times
to see that if any initiative were once taken the program proposed should
be carried out to its logical conclusion. Under the set up that I envision
individual initiative and endeavor would in no case be supplanted, but
every effort would be made to encourage the members to undertake necessary
tasks, and the Association would only engage in such work as could best
be handled from some central headquarters. In other words the policy would
be to encourage, augment and coordinate the work of all those engaged
in law library administration and development.
I have no doubt that you
can visualize the things that you could accomplish this year if you could
formulate a general program for your term of office in the knowledge that
there would be a staff available to see that the program was carried out.
I can think of many things that the Association could do if we had such
full time interested officials as I have in mind, but I will only burden
you here with the briefest mention of some that occur to me at the moment.
1. Obviously the Journal
should be continued as at present, although it might be enlarged to advantage
as the scarcity of technical material on law library administration is
apparent to anyone who has had occasion to look for information of this
2. In my opinion there is
a crying need for a bulletin, preferably in print form, but if this is
impossible mimeographing would serve the purpose. Such a bulletin should
contain current notices of interest to law librarians and comments and
items regarding libraries where the information would be of interest to
other librarians. It should also contain a list of current legal publications,
including pamphlets, giving the author, title, publisher, source and price,
and other data whenever possible. If this information were regularly gathered
together by some central agency it would save much time and trouble on
the part of individual librarians, who must at present scan a vast amount
of current material in order to keep themselves posted, and then are bound
to overlook many items of interest. We as law librarians should have some
means of knowing that everything being published in our field will come
to our attention.
Obviously the bulletin published
by Mr. Rosbrook has attempted to meet some of these particular needs and
I think he deserves a great deal of credit for the work which he has been
doing. He has convinced me that, in spite of the evidence of the moment,
there is a very real need in this direction, and one which can only be
met by the general distribution of a bulletin of some sort. Lack of support
and of funds has, of course, made it impossible for him to prepare it
in an attractive form, or to give the full bibliographical data which
is desirable. This has probably contributed to the difficulty he has encountered
in securing subscriptions. Under the centralized plan which I am proposing
I believe the difficulties which he has encountered as an individual could
be minimized or overcome.
3. Another class of publication in which the Association
could very well take a much more active interest is that of indexes, check
lists and bibliographies for which there is certainly a crying need such
as will probably never be entirely satisfied. Here is an illustration of
how the Association could operate at its best, for in my opinion it need
not, and perhaps should not undertake this sort of work directly as an organization.
The better policy would be to establish conditions encouraging voluntary
endeavors in these directions. I mean by this that if the Association would
sponsor the publication of indexes, check lists and bibliographies, a great
deal of individual initiative might thereby be developed. Under present
circumstances the cost of publication has discouraged efforts of this sort
since one must be possessed of an almost “inhuman” eal to be
willing to undertake such labors if they are to see the light of day.
4. It seems to me that we
are in great need of a clearing house for general information as well
as a place where material on law library administration can be collected.
In short, we are in need of some central library on law library administration
where all possible data should be gathered and arranged in a manner to
be of service to all persons interested. The American Association of Law
Libraries should be a clearing house for all such information, and should
also be a source to which we could freely write in the confidence that
we would frequently receive information of help to us in solving our particular
problems. So far as I know, no one has as yet made any attempt to systematically
gather material along these lines, and yet the time is coming when we
must pass into a phase where law library administration will be a well
developed technical field administered by persons extensively trained
for this particular purpose. I don't mean to indicate by this expression
that there are not law librarians of the first order in the field at the
present time, for there are, but there are also many law libraries which
are inefficiently administered, either because they are inadequately manned,
or because the librarians are untrained and poorly paid.
So much for this very brief discussion of some of the fields of service
which lie before the American Association of Law Libraries. Assuming that
the Association and its members are in favor of the addition of one or more
full time paid members to the staff, we are confronted by the very important
problem of ways and means.
While I have no idea as
to a concrete source from which financial assistance may be procured,
I can not but believe that we have a very legitimate claim to bring forward
when we are ready to act in earnest, and I see no reason why we should
not approach the problem of securing financial assistance with some reasonable
degree of assurance. Foundations of many kinds are contributing millions
of dollars annually in any number of directions, and surely some of us
among the law librarians are acquainted with persons who could make approaches
for us. As you know, the American Library Association has received substantial
assistance from the Carnegie Corporation, which is simply a proof of the
fact that similar assistance has been procured. When one considers the
immense importance of the legal profession, and the tremendous influence
which it exerts upon our respective communities and upon the states and
the country, it seems to me undeniably clear that the intelligent and
the insistent claim of those who are engaged in providing the absolutely
essential library facilities for this profession should be heard and responded
to in no less concrete terms than the contribution of the necessary funds
to improve our service to our public.
Of course while discussing the question of receiving
outside financial assistance, we should not overlook our own resources although
they be meager, for we must be willing to give direct assistance ourselves.
No doubt there are ways and means of augmenting the income from our group
if we can provide an increased service to our own membership. In this connection
I submit that assistance from the legal profession in any of its branches
should not be considered “outside”assistance. We are merely
a part of this group with an absolutely necessary but specialized function
In spite of the length of
this letter I feel that the main considerations have not been adequately
treated, and I regret that it is not possible for us to discuss these
matters at length. However, as I am urging the adoption of a specific
program I am going to conclude with a concrete proposal, namely, that
you and your fellow officers consider the advisability of appointing a
committee with authority to look into this matter thoroughly.
Thanking you in advance
for such consideration as you may be inclined to give this proposal, I
William. R. Roalfe, Librarian.
Duke University Law School34
The letter clearly touched the imagination of President Parma, because
she published it in the Law Library Journal. While Roalfe was known
to members of the profession before 1930, he now became one of its most
visible members and would remain so for the next forty years. The work of
the Expansion Committee would consume much of the time of Roalfe and the
Association for the next ten years.
Whether Roalfe was a visionary or whether he merely articulated a popular
sentiment of members of the Association at the time is not clear. What is
indisputable is the fact that through his continuing involvement in the
realization of the plan, he became its principal architect. The Expansion
Plan became an agenda item at the twenty-sixth annual meeting of AALL in
New Haven, Connecticut in June 1931. While concerns were voiced as to whether
such an ambitious plan could be undertaken by the Association, it was agreed
that a committee should be formed to examine the proposal. Not surprisingly,
William Roalfe was selected as its chair.
While the committee appointed to examine the
proposal was called the Committee on the Expansion Plan, it was referred
to by John Vance, the Law Librarian of Congress, as “the Roalfe Plan,” and
the name stuck. Proof of the importance placed on this committee by AALL
was the professional standing of the members chosen to serve on it. The
other members Of the committee were John Vance, a future president of
AALL; Frederick C. Hicks, Director of the Yale Law Library, Professor
of Law and former AALL president; and Gilson Glasier, of the Wisconsin
State Library, former AALL president and a charter member of the Association.
All were leaders in the profession. S. D. Klapp, Librarian of the Minneapolis
Bar Association, was later appointed to the committee by president Parma.
At the 1931 meeting there was a round table discussion of the Roalfe plan
within the Committee on Incorporation. Miss Lyons, Librarian, New York State
Library, presided, and she called upon Roalfe to comment on his proposal.
In an impassioned speech, Roalfe urged:
[T]here are two major problems of consideration
into which this entire discussion falls; first, shall we work out a modified
or enlarged type of organization to carry out the work of the American
Association of Law Libraries; and secondly, if we undertake to carry forward
such a program, how are we going to meet the financial obligations that
will be incurred thereby? 35 All
pioneer work is done by making a start, not knowing how the final result
is to be achieved. The main thing that lies before us today, I feel, is
to make that kind of start. In other words, to set forth boldly and say, “Let
us encourage the functioning of the Association, and let us go into it
wholeheartedly, and let us develop an instrument such as is adequate for
modern conditions.” 36
John Vance spoke strongly in favor of Roalfe's proposal:
I just can't go away from this meeting without expressing my hearty
approval of Mr. Roalfe's plan. We hear a great deal about plans nowadays,
five-year plans, ten-year plans, and this plan and that plan, but I think
that this plan is certainly deserving of the name of the Roalfe Plan. In spite
of what Mr. Mettee says, I think that deep down in his heart, even in his
words and acts during the past 25 years, he has approved this plan. Certainly,
after 25 years of progress with the American Association of Law Libraries,
it would be impossible to say at this junction of the beginning of the second
quarter of a century, that we are going to stand still from now on and just
stagnate. That is what it would mean if we didn't help Mr. Roalfe.
I envy Mr. Roalfe the vision and the force and the clearness with which he
has presented this matter. There is no question about the great work of the
Association during 25 years, and no question about the gratitude that the
whole profession of the law and the law librarians owes to the founders of
this Association, and the important work that they have carried on during
their first quarter of a century. It seems to me, also, that there is no question
about the necessity of going forward.
Like Mr. Poole, the matter of funds is a secondary matter to me. If we have
the idea, and the idea is sold to the members of the profession, we can sell
the idea to those who have the funds in their power to carry on the work that's
conceived. It is easy for me to understand Mr. Roalfe's plan - I envy him
- and the feeling that the money is of secondary importance. He's living in
an atmosphere of luxury and wealth at Duke University, and where money seems
to spring from the smoke, if not from the trees, and naturally he lives among
It seems to me that we should all enthusiastically endorse the plan, and a
committee should be appointed in order to get it before the Association. I
believe, Madame Chairman, that a committee of three be appointed to carry
out this Roalfe Plan, and that Mr. Roalfe, the father of the Plan, be the
chairman of the committee.37
While much of the commentary was similarly favorable to the proposal, A.
J. Small, Librarian at the Iowa State Law Library, a charter member of AALL
and its first president, rose and spoke to the problem of financing of the
plan. Earlier, Roalfe had indicated that one way finances could be addressed
would be through the seeking of grants from foundations since millions were
being given away every year for projects such as this. “So far as the
financing is concerned,” Small contended, “that is one of the
hardest problems that we will have to surmount. If Mr. Roalfe knows of any
millionaires who have a million or two to hand over, let him bring them up.”38
Another concern voiced was the dangers of centralization and bureaucracy.
These issues again arose at the 1932 annual meeting in New Orleans,39 when
the Committee issued its recommendations. The report contained, in a more
organized and detailed fashion, much of what Roalfe had recommended in
his letter. The only new recommendation was a “national survey of present
law library conditions.” Also included was a list of special recommendations
which would need to be addressed if the plan was to succeed: the incorporation
of the Association, the establishment of a national headquarters or “secretariat” and
recommendations regarding dues, bylaw amendments and grant seeking. Roalfe
was not in attendance at the meeting and thus was unavailable to respond
to specific questions. H. R. Coffey read the report and responded on Roalfe's
While on the whole the report was well received, it also received its fair
share of criticism. Mr. Small again rose to voice his concern that the plan
was overreaching. Another critic, Dr. Goddard rose and stated:
It seems to me, the more I have been able to think it over, (speaking
of the Plan), if one individual is to lead and conduct the work of the Association
along the present and extended lines, he would have to have the strength of
Samson, he would have to have the wisdom of Solomon, and the Association would
have to have the wealth of Croesus, especially in these days, with stocks
marked down, and so far as my acquaintance and observation go, we have no
Samsons, we have no Solomons, and we have no Croesus.40
He then stated another concern, “I cannot
but feel that our country is overridden with bureaucracy. We are getting
altogether too much dependent upon a bureau rather than upon the whole
people or the association, with the result, in the case where the bureau
is composed of one, that we are made dependent upon the health, strength,
common sense and faithfulness to duty of one or a very few individuals.”41
At the end of the discussion a motion that the work of the Committee on
the Expansion Plan be continued was seconded and carried.
A testament to the importance of Roalfe to the Expansion Plan was the fact
that little work was done on the plan during 1933 because Roalfe was ill
for a good portion of the year and could not attend the convention.42 At
the June 1934 annual meeting of the Association in Montreal, Canada, the
Expansion Plan was once again discussed at a round table. Helen Newman, Librarian,
George Washington University Law School and Representative to the AALS, stated: “Some
of us already had the same view, but we had not had the wisdom to put into
print what we felt about these things.” She then went on to recommend
that the national headquarters be established in Washington, D.C. because “the
Library of Congress gave us unusual facilities, particularly in the field
of foreign legal publications and, second, that government publications,
which I know some of you find difficult to obtain, may be obtained by those
of us who are able frequently to secure them, even though they may be out
of print at the Government Printing Office.”43
It should surprise no one that the primary concerns raised were those of
finances. Who was going to pay for this enterprise? After a period of some
questions and answers, Rosamund Parma rose and asked if Mr Roalfe might be
willing to add something to the discussion. Roalfe responded:
I had very much hoped that I was going to have the privilege of
listening this evening to everyone else. It is rather diverting, if you look
at it impersonally, to have holes picked in a scheme to which you have given
a great deal of thought. However, I feel just the same now as I did three
years ago, that there is a wonderful opportunity before this organization
to exploit the field of service to members of the Bench, Bar and that includes
members of the Bar who belong to the teaching profession.44
A clearly exasperated Roalfe continued:
I cannot see why, if we want to commit
ourselves, - and by that I mean adopting the plan as something we want
to carry into effect, - if we commit ourselves to the incurring of expenses
we cannot afford, well, of course, obviously the officers of this organization
are duty bound to keep within the budget available; but what I would like
to see here today, because we have loitered long enough, is the adoption
of the plan, and with that adoption the authorization or recommendation
to the officers during the next year to explore all possible means of commencing
it into effect … I
continue the offer of being perfectly willing to have holes picked in my
ideas, and I will attempt to answer them, but I very much prefer that the
discussion come from the floor. (applause).45
After further discussion Eldon James called the question. The question was
that the round table recommend to the American Association of Law Libraries
that the incoming officers go forward with the Roalfe Plan and that the permanent
headquarters be established in Washington, DC It carried unanimously. Also,
on December 29, 1934 at the annual meeting of the Association of American
Law Schools a resolution was adopted by the membership at the business meeting
which stated that AALS approved of the Roalfe Plan.46
Slowly, in these pre-war years certain elements of the plan began to be
carried out. In 1935, Roalfe was elected president of AALL, and while much
of the Roalfe Plan had yet to be adopted, his election can no doubt be seen
as an endorsement of the Expansion Plan. He was an able leader whose tenure
is worth noting for a number of reasons. The Association was incorporated
on September 25, 1935 - one of the recommendations of his Expansion Plan.
He also worked hard during his administration to strengthen ties with American
Library Association (ALA).47
In a March 28, 1938 memo to the Committee on Expansion, Roalfe reported
that with respect to eight of the twenty-four specific proposals articulated
in the Committee Report on the Expansion Plan, the Association had taken
the specific steps recommended, and all but two of the remaining had been
acted upon. Those parts realized were as follows:
- The adoption of amendments to the constitution and the bylaws necessary
to clear the way for the changes proposed;
- Incorporation of the Association;
- Establishment of a permanent headquarters;
- Employment of a paid executive secretary48 on
at least a part-time basis;
- Publication of the Index to Legal Periodicals and the Law
Library Journal as separate and distinct periodicals;
- Publication of the entire proceedings of each annual meeting promptly
and in a separate issue of Law Library Journal;
- Establishment of an institutional membership; and
- Modification of the fees for regular and associate members so as to bring
them into line with the institutional membership plan as proposed.49
In 1941 Helen Newman presented a report to the
Association on “A Decade
of Progress under the Roalfe Plan: 1931 - 1941.”50 Further
developments included: the issuance of the Law Library Journal on
a bimonthly basis; a grant of $5,000 from the Carnegie Foundation for the
establishment of a permanent headquarters; paid advertising accepted in the Journal;
a number of bibliographies published in Law Library Journal; and
the appointment of a Committee on Publicity. Clearly much of what Roalfe
proposed had yet to be realized. Still, the plan was the defining event of
those years. An article by Helen Newman on the history of AALL from 1930
to 1946 in the Golden Jubilee issue of the Law Library Journal is
entitled, “The Roalfe Plan and the Middle Years, 1930 - 1942.”51 The
work on the Expansion Plan was the single largest common denominator during
those years - and with it Roalfe. He dominated the Association, but this
domination should be kept in perspective. Most AALL meetings during the 1930s
were attended by fewer than 50 members, with membership in the Association
less than 300; thus, one motivated individual could make an enormous impact.
Undoubtedly, World War II slowed down the efforts to implement the plan.52 Shortly
after the war, Roalfe was appointed to chair the Special Committee on Advisability
and Practicality of Establishing the Office of Executive Secretary and Treasurer
on a Full-Time Basis (1946-48).
In the early 1950s, there was again a call for
a new Roalfe Plan, called New Horizons. As a result of that initiative,
Roalfe would again be asked to chair the Committee on Permanent Quarters
for the American Association of Law Libraries (1953-55). A permanent headquarters
was one of the core concerns of the Roalfe Plan. For years the “secretariat” was
located in Washington, DC with Helen Newman. Many thought that the headquarters
should be located there. But with the ABA and ALA located in Chicago, that
city became the focus of headquarters discussion.
At the 1954 annual meeting, President Lucile
Elliot called for a revitalization of AALL. Roalfe's survey of the libraries
of the legal profession was viewed as the realization of yet another one
of the goals of the Roalfe Plan. And of the next year's annual meeting,
Harrison MacDonald wrote, “Expansion
was in the atmosphere, and plans of the special policy committee were discussed,
promising a professional 'new look' before long.” He continued, “At
the end of 50 years it is, indeed, discovering 'new horizons' or, shall we
say, rediscovering them, for that dependable trailblazer, William R. Roalfe,
had chartered many of them twenty-odd years ago.”53
The Report of the Special Panel on New Horizons, presented at the Fifty-fourth
Annual Meeting, made a set of sweeping recommendations for further study
to the Association. The organization of AALL needed to continue to expand
and mature. The growth of chapters was one healthy means of doing this. While
the growth of the profession meant a wider range of individuals in the Association,
it was important that law librarians, no matter what their specialization,
participate in AALL. It was time to reconsider all aspects of committee organization,
from their subject matter to their anatomy. Membership needed to increase
in order to raise sufficient funds to run the Association, but other sources
of funds were also necessary. The ABA and foundations were two other potential
Additionally, standards for law librarianship needed to be developed. These
standards should involve certification of law librarians, recruitment of
personnel and internships. Once again, there was a call for a full-time permanent
executive secretary and headquarters. There should be a increased effort
at public relations. A wide range of publications should be developed, among
them a handbook of law library practice, bibliographies, indexes and monographs. Law
Library Journal needed to be revised. Institutes, much like the recently
successful Institute on the Fundamentals of Law Library Administration organized
by Miles O. Price, should be held as a means of continuing education in law
librarianship. Annual meetings should change to adjust to the growing membership.54 In
effect, there was a call for an expansion of the Roalfe Expansion Plan. Much
of this plan would be realized later.
As the Association grew and the years rolled by, there was less frequent
mention of the Roalfe Plan. Its ideals had become part of what drove the
AALL; the goals of the plan internalized in the collective consciousness
of the Association's leadership. There was never any question that what had
been accomplished under the plan was good for the profession. Roalfe's influence
was profoundly felt by those law librarians who came of professional age
during his tenure in the Association. What became clear early on was that
money, and not ideals, would control the pace at which modernization could
take place. It was not until 1964, coincidentally the year of Roalfe's retirement,
that a permanent headquarters in Chicago with a full-time executive secretary
was finally approved by AALL. Much of what had been proposed in the Roalfe
Plan was now in effect, and AALL was entering a new stage in development
and growth. Throughout the post-war period and until the present day, there
have been periodic attempts to reorganize AALL through committees and task
forces whose job it was to identify the challenges and chart the future direction
of AALL. At present, the challenges are the costs and benefits of the Washington
representative and the role of the Association as lobbyist; tomorrow others
will arise. What was once viewed as too expensive, unnecessary or foolish,
soon either becomes essential or fades away. What is certain is that Roalfe
charted a direction for the Association from which it has never looked back.
And on occasion, one can still hear the suggestion that what AALL needs is
a new Roalfe Plan.
C. International: International Association
of Law Libraries and the American Association of the United Nations
Though Roalfe's interest in law librarianship's national organization never
waned, it was clear that the events of the Second World War had a profound
effect upon him. After the war he became very interested in international
matters, as his service in the International Association of Law Libraries
(IALL) and the American Association for the United Nations (AAUN) would testify.
Roalfe thought that law libraries would have a fundamental part in the building
of the new world order. Democracy could be spread if law libraries in war-ravaged
countries and the Third World could be established and supported. For the
rule of law to take hold and spread democracy, it was necessary for people
in those countries to read the law, and particularly the law of the western
democracies and the United States.
In 1957, an AALL Special Committee on the Creation of the International
Association of Law Libraries was created. Roalfe served as its chair. In
a memorandum dated July 18, 1958, Roalfe reported to the committee that the
Executive Board had approved the Committee's recommendation that AALL issue
an invitation to all interested persons to attend a meeting to be held during
the annual AALL meeting in New York, for the purpose of considering the creation
an International Association of Law Libraries. In the memorandum to the committee,
Roalfe suggested the proposed purposes of the new association were as follows:
- To promote the development of legal collections on a multinational basis
where it is necessary or desirable to further the work of the legal profession
in any of its branches.
- To encourage and facilitate the exchange of legal materials between institutions
which are collecting materials on a multinational basis.
- To facilitate the distribution of legal materials on a worldwide basis,
whether by exchange or otherwise.
- To serve as an agency for the dissemination of useful information.
- To encourage and promote the development of bibliographical services
and other aids that will facilitate research involving the use of legal
materials on a multinational basis.
- To cooperate with any other organization which is in a position to and
is willing to assume some responsibility in the area with which the proposed
organization will be concerned.55
Roalfe was the primary architect of the constitution of the newly formed
organization. At the organizational meeting held on Wednesday, June 24,
1959, at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Roalfe was
elected president of IALL. He served in that capacity until 1962.
AALL was such an integral part of his life that he even found his second
wife in its ranks. On November 26, 1960, Roalfe married Helen Snook, who was
at the time the president of AALL and Law Librarian for the Detroit Bar Association.
At the second annual meeting of IALL, held at Boston in conjunction with the
AALL meeting, Roalfe presided. His wife, Helen Snook Roalfe, presided over
the AALL meeting. This was not only the first and only time spouses held the
presidency of these two professional organizations, but to hold them simultaneously
was truly remarkable - the first couple of law librarianship!
In 1973, in recognition of the role he played in the founding and continued
development of IALL, Roalfe was awarded an honorary membership in the Association.
Roalfe was enough of an internationalist at this point that he was not satisfied
with his work in IALL alone. In the early 1950s he also was one of the original
organizers of the American Association for the United Nations (AAUN), along
with its most famous co-founder, Eleanor Roosevelt. From 1954 until 1964,
Roalfe served in a number of capacities. From 1954 to 1958 he served on its
National Board of Governors, and from 1954 to 1958 and 1959 to 1964, he served
on the Board of Directors of AAUN. Roalfe was active in organizing the Chicago
and Illinois chapters and represented them on the board of governors.
In 1956 he was asked to head a committee looking
into improving AAUN's field structure of chapters and state divisions. Once
again Roalfe was involved in what he seemed to do best in any association
in which he was involved: the
reorganization of the group to create a more efficient and effective administrative
framework. He worked with Dr. Frank Porter Graham, former U.S. Senator
from North Carolina, on the project.56 From
this committee, which would be popularly known within AAUN as “the Roalfe
committee” came the call for the first national convention of the Association.
At that convention AAUN would be reorganized into a new organization called
the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA/USA).
Roalfe continued to serve on its board of directors until 1967.
Estelle Linzer, a staff member of AAUN who is
currently working on a history of the organization, worked closely with
Roalfe during the 1950s and 1960s. She says of Roalfe, “Bob was intense
in his interest in the United Nations and in the Association's activities
in support of effective United States membership in the UN. He gave his
time unsparingly to the committee he headed, which involved travel on his
own vacation time to chapter and regional meetings looking toward the streamlining
of the organization's structure.”57 She
thought he was the perfect man for the job. She found him to be a “serious,
rigid man of great principles, who didn't have much of a sense of humor
- which was maybe just what we needed on a committee charged with the restructuring
of the organization.”58
Marian Gallagher referred to William Roalfe as “Mr.
is hard to disagree with this assessment, but he was also much more. He
always sought out other law librarians to band together for cooperative
endeavors. He did this in a serious and professional way. Those who remember
him use descriptions like “a thorough gentleman”and “a
real doer.”60 While
he wrote of humor in the law library, he is remembered as a humorless man.
Perhaps he took his work so seriously this was the only side of the man most
saw. Whoever the man, it is his work and contributions to law librarianship
which will live on.
Many of the concerns he expressed about AALL
are concerns the Association still faces: the cost of dues, the content
of Law Library Journal,
the need for an adequate headquarters staff, the over reliance upon vendors
for convention support, the education and training of law librarians, salaries,
accreditation standards, the teaching of legal research to law students, the
increasing varied needs of law firm and government law librarians and the
lack of appreciation and understanding by the public and the user communities
of the work law librarians do. There was not an important issue of the day
about which he did not raise his voice or pen.
Chronology of the Life of William R. Roalfe
|| Roalfe born in Mexico City, Mexico, Aug. 22
||Admitted to California Bar
||Receives LL.B. from the University of Southern California
||Attorney in law firm of O'Melveny, Milliken and Tuller,
|| Private practice
|| Construction supervisor and salesman
|| Librarian, University of Southern California School
|| Writes letter to Rosamund Parma describing program which
would come to be called the Roalfe Plan, Sept. 11
|| Librarian, Duke University Law Library and Professor
|| Chairman, AALS Round Table on Library Problems
||Elected vice president/president elect of AALL; Roalfe
Plan endorsed by AALL, June 29; married Mary Holland, July 7; Roalfe
Plan endorsed by AALS, Dec. 29
|| AALL incorporated
|| President of AALL
|| President of Ephebian Society
|| Helps found the Carolina Law Librarians - AALL's first
|| Legal Counsel, Office of Price Administration, Washington,
|| Returns to Duke
|| Director, Elbert Gary Law Library, Northwestern University
School of Law and Professor of Law
|| Helps found Chicago Association of Law Libraries and
is elected first president
||Libraries of the Legal Profession published
|| Helps found American Association for the United Nations
|| National Board of Directors of AAUN
|| Chair, AALL Special Committee on the Formation of an
International Association of Law Libraries
||Executive Board, AAUN
|| Mary Holland Roalfe dies; awarded honorary LL.D., Temple
University; receives AALL Recognition Award
||Helps found and is elected first president of IALL
|| Marries Helen Snook, Librarian of the Detroit Bar Association
and president of AALL, Nov. 26
|| Roalfe retires; Roalfe Committee of AAUN calls for national
convention where the group is restructured into the United Nations
Association of the United States of America (UNA/USA); permanent headquarters
for AALL established in Chicago
|| Professor Emeritus, Northwestern Law
|| AALL Parliamentarian
|| Moves from Chicago to San Diego
|| Made first honorary member of IALL; Helen Snook Roalfe
dies, Feb. 27
|| Marries Emma Brubaker
||Poetic Utterances published
||John Henry Wigmore: Scholar and Reformer published
|| William Roalfe dies, July 22
A Bibliography of the Writings of and about
William R. Roalfe
This is an exhaustive bibliography of the writings of William Roalfe. Also
included are several of the more informative articles which discuss Roalfe's
work. The annotations are selective and for the most part descriptive. In
some cases, particularly with respect to Roalfe's books, annotations are evaluative
if it seemed to assist with better understanding of the man.
John Henry Wigmore: Scholar and Reformer. Chicago: Northwestern
University Press, 1977. Interestingly, this book was never reviewed. A
well-written, exhaustive account of the life of Dean Wigmore, a man Roalfe
clearly respected. Wigmore served as dean at Northwestern from 1901 - 29.
He died in 1943, three years before Roalfe became Law Librarian at Northwestern.
Poetic Utterances. William Roalfe, 1976. Roalfe was clearly a better
librarian than poet. In the forward to this self-published collection of 41
poems he writes:
All of the following verses, except “Plumed Frond” which
was written in 1955, were produced in 1926, 1927, and 1928 when I was about
thirty years old. They were the products of the unconscious; I was unaware
of the ideas or words until I wrote them down. In each case the verse appeared
as if written by another person. They are reproduced here in the approximate
form of their original writing.
Although I have been writing steadily since that time, the impulse to write
verse has recurred only twice and at wide intervals, and never again have I
felt impelled to write down something formed without conscious effort.
Come What May
Come what may
I'll fight away
And win the day.
The day I speak
Knows not the weak
And is not for the meek.
It's nothing less than free man's day
And strikes not till the soul says yea
And thus becomes the master of its way.
It's natal hour:
It's manhood's flower
And makes of life a joyous bower.
For he who does self master,
In spite of gods and men,
Can come to no disaster.
How to Find the Law. 5th ed. St. Paul: West,
1957. Roalfe took over the editorship of the casebook from Carlton B. Putnam.
Its modern equivalent is the Cohen, Berring, Olsen text. Roalfe wrote the
Preface and Introduction and the Summary and Conclusion. All of the other
chapters were written by respected law librarians and law teachers like
Julius Marke, Morris Cohen and Marian Gallagher.
Its focus is much different than the previous edition which was edited by
Carlton B. Putnam. In the introduction to this edition, Roalfe begins with
a description of the reasons for studying legal bibliography and the method
of study which he believes best used.
This book proceeds upon three basic assumptions, namely (1) that
the best way to learn is by doing - by actually using law books in their wide
variety, (2) that a certain amount of trial and error is both inevitable and
desirable, but (3) that wasted effort can be reduced to a minimum by starting
with relatively simple problems to be solved under the guidance provided by
this book and supplemented by the instructor in the course.
Roalfe also differs from Putnam's approach in
the fourth edition, which discusses the importance of legal materials in
jurisprudence by describing the typical law library, its collections and
how research is conducted in them. Roalfe begins his discussion of legal
bibliography with a chapter on legal encyclopedias because he felt they
represented an easy transition from undergraduate research to legal research.
How to Find the Law, with Special Chapters on Legal Writing. 6th
ed. St. Paul: West, 1965. Roalfe, as the title indicates, spent more
time in this edition discussing legal writing and problem solving - four
chapters were added. Of the sixteen contributors, only six had written chapters
in the fifth edition.
The Libraries of the Legal Profession: A
Study Prepared for the Survey of the Legal Profession under the Auspices of American Bar
Association. St. Paul: West 1953. Oft quoted, a monumental work
in law librarianship. Never before or since has there been this comprehensive
look at the libraries of the legal profession. Because of an earlier
ABA survey of legal education, this survey only looked at firm, governmental
and court law libraries. This project was one of the proposals of the
Expansion Plan, and in it Roalfe calls for further reform in the Association
because many of the goals of the Roalfe Plan had yet to be met.
In the forward of the book, Forrest Drummond, President of AALL writes:
Among the important objectives in the program of the American Association
of Law Libraries has been the improvement of Law Libraries and standards of
Law Librarianship, together with a more complete understanding by the Bar
of the services available to the legal profession through their libraries
and librarians. With this in mind, there was first proposed in 1931 to the
American Association of Law Libraries an expansion program commonly known
as the Roalfe Expansion Plan, bearing the name of the original sponsor of
the plan and the author of a majority of its provisions. One of the important
provisions of the Roalfe Expansion Plan was a survey of law libraries, and
everyone familiar with the law library field knew that the right choice had
been made when William R. Roalfe was selected to make the Survey of the Libraries
of the Legal Profession. We all relaxed with the knowledge that the Survey
was in the capable hands of a man who had done so much to improve the standards
of law libraries and law librarians.
The chapters contained: I. Introduction; II. Book Collection;
III. Quarters, Furniture and Equipment; IV. Personnel; V. Some
Comparisons Between Law Librarians and Related Groups; VI. Service and
Public Relations; VII. Law Office and Company Libraries; VIII. County
Law Libraries; IX. State Law Libraries; X. State Court Libraries;
XI. Federal Court Libraries; XII. Federal Departmental and Administrative
Agency Law Libraries; XIII. Association Law Libraries; XIV. Other
Types of Law Libraries; XV. Cooperation Between Libraries; XVI. Cooperation
Through Organized Groups; and, XVII. Conclusion. It includes dozens
of Tables, an Appendix and an Index.
Much of the book is really a personal statement
by Roalfe of the current state of affairs of law librarianship. If one were
to only read one work by Roalfe, this work would give one the best sense
of Roalfe the law librarian and “association animal.”
The book was reviewed by Bernita J. Davies at 47 Law Libr. J. 51 (1954).
Humor in the Law Library, 64 Law Libr. J. 37 (1971). While Roalfe's
premise was that there is a need for more humor in the law library, this article
is a not very funny look at humor in the law library. Clearly there was a
need for more humor in the profession if this was the best which could be
offered. Unfortunately, Bob Roalfe never met Bob Berring.
Organization and Committee Structure of AALL, A Panel, 60 Law Libr.
J. 416 (Nov. 1967).
Organization and Structure of AALL, the Future, A Panel, 61 Law
Libr. J. 463 (Nov. 1968). Marian G. Gallagher served as the chair of both
panels. Also speaking on both panels were Harry Bitner, Cornell University
Law Library, and Erwin Surrency, Temple University Law Library.
Roalfe presented an outstanding talk on how a committee and its chair should
function. He laid out quite specific guidelines and timetables for a committee
chair to make sure that the committee functions effectively. This should be
required reading for all incoming AALL Committee and SIS chairs. In summary,
the guidelines are as follows:
- Make a start - sooner rather than later.
- Keep it moving.
- Do your homework.
- Communicate with your fellow committee members. In the initial communication:
- give the names of the committee members;
- articulate the existing situation and the committee's charge;
- provide background documentation in the form of cites or the
actual text; and
- ask for comments from committee members.
- Two weeks after the initial communication, if there is no response,
send a reminder and explain that an answer is expected and overdue.
- If possible, send written communications
in a survey format which only requires checking squares or inserting “yes” or “no” and
slipping the survey into a self-addressed envelope. “Even when
this is not altogether satisfactory it may be all that can be expected
from persons who are not capable of committee work at a higher level.
At least this clears the way for further work by the more competent members
of the committee.”
- After all the responses are in hand and digested, it is time for a
second communication which reflects the views of the committee.
- Depending upon the complexity of the committee charge, several more
communications with committee members may be necessary. Sub-committees
may also be called for.
- Prepare a draft report for comment. In certain circumstances a vote
may be necessary.
- Follow up with reminders.
- Make sure the final report is an accurate reflection of the members
of the committee.
- Inform the president-elect which committee members were effective and
which were not. This will avoid mistakes in next year's appointments.
Roalfe then categorizes the various types of committee members and their
strengths and weaknesses.
The follow-up panel consisted of the members of the previous panel who summarized
their earlier comments and then opened the discussion to questions and comments.
Some Observations on the Development of Law Library Service in the Emerging
Nations, 57 Law Libr. J. 396 (Nov. 1964). This paper was presented
on July 1, 1964 at an annual meeting of AALL, as part of a panel on emerging
nations. After World War 11, Roalfe became very interested in the international
Centennial Tribute of John Henry Wigmore, 58 Nw. L. Rev. 445 (1963).
An update of his biographical look at Wigmore.
John Henry Wigmore - Scholar and Reformer, 53 J. Crim. L., Criminology
and Police Sci. 277 (1962). This is the first biography of the man about whom
Roalfe would later writes the definitive biography.
Development of Qualitative Standards for the Evaluation of Law Libraries,
A Panel, Remarks, 52 Law Libr. J. 324 (1959). Roalfe presided over
the panel. Also participating were Helen A. Snook, Detroit Bar Association;
Elizabeth Finley, Covington and Burlington, Washington, DC; and Harry Bitner,
Yale Law Library.
Law School Library, Facts and Fancies, 11 J. Legal Educ. 346 (1959).
An article about law library standards, and lack thereof.
Law Library Service from the Administrator's Point of View,
51 Law Libr. J. 349 (Nov. 1958). This paper was presented as part of a panel
called Bibliographic Organization in Law Libraries. Also presenting papers
were Roy Mersky, Yale Law Library, “Bibliographic Organization in Law Libraries”;
Francis Holbrook, UCLA Law Library, “Bibliographic Organization and
Cataloging.” Iris Wildman read Francis Holbrook's paper.
Law Librarianship - A New Field of Specialization,
63 Case & Com.
24 (1958). Roalfe clearly felt the need to make people aware of the profession
of law librarianship. He always looked for ways to promote the profession.
Widening Scope of Law Librarianship - A Forum,
50 Law Libr. J. 403 (1957). Roalfe served as chair of the forum. On the
panel were: Erwin
Surrency, Temple University Law Library, “The Law Librarian as Author
and Legal Scholar”; Howard J. Graham, Los Angeles County Law Library, “The
Law Librarian as Bibliographer”; Carroll C. Moreland, University of
Pennsylvania Law Library, “The Law Librarian in Relation to Undertakings
of the Bench, Bar and Legislative Branch”; Ervin Pollack, Ohio State
University Law Library, “The Law Librarian as Researcher”; and
Vernon M. Smith, University of California, Berkeley, “Law Librarian
as Coordinator and Consultant on Library Standards.”
Centralized University Library Service and the Law School, 50 Law
Libr. J. 2 (1957). This is a book review which Roalfe uses as a forum to discuss
the advantages and disadvantages of the autonomous academic Law library.
Frederick C Hicks: Scholar-Librarian:
Biography, 50 Law Libr.
J. 88 (May 1957). Roalfe had great respect for Hicks. He saw him as a role
model and mentor. This article is reprinted as a chapter in this book.
Legal Research & Writing at Northwestern
University, 9 J. Legal
Educ. 81 (1956) (written with Higman). A description of the course as it was
taught at Northwestern. It gives some valuable insights into Roalfe's philosophy
of the importance of legal research in the curriculum. He seems to damn by
faint praise the course offered at Northwestern. His principal argument in
favor of the course is that it was better than it was in the past. Still,
he saw great problems in not using full-time members of the faculty to teach
the course. The use of one-year teaching associates caused great difficulties
in getting the associates up to speed. Each year the process of educating
the teaching associates had to begin anew since full-time permanent instructors
could not be afforded. On a more positive note, the program was an attempt
to formalize what until that time was a catch-as-catch-can method of legal
research and writing instruction.
Relations of the American Association of Law Libraries with Other Professional
Organizations, 49 Law Libr. J. 128 (1956). History of AALL activities
with other associations for the Golden Jubilee Issue.
How Can the American Association of Law Libraries Expand and Modernize
Its Program to Improve Law Library Service?, A Panel, 47 Law Libr.
J. 360 (1954). Roalfe paper “How Can the American Association of Law
Libraries Use the Survey of Law Libraries?” is summarized. Needs include
more research projects like bibliographies, a critical collection of
all the laws affecting law libraries, a study of the unique problems of
federal court libraries, and a more thorough study of state law libraries.
He also advocated improving and expanding LLJ and better access to foreign
materials and the vast body of legal literature in non-legal publications.
Look at the U.N. Record, 34 Chi. B. Rec. 367 (1953) (with Brunson
MacChesney). A short article in response to an article in the Chicago
Bar Record by Howard Newcomb Morse critical of the UN entitled, “UN
on the Wane.” Roalfe, who at the time was on the Board of Directors
and President of the American Association of the United Nations, defends
the record of the United Nations to date.
Reference Work in Law Libraries, A Panel,
46 Law Libr. J. 448 (1953). Roalfe served as Chair of this panel which included: Vincent Fiordalisi,
Rutgers Law Library, “Law Library Services to the Community”;
Elizabeth Holt, Nevada State Library, “Recording of Reference Questions”;
John W. Heckel, Los Angeles County Law Library, “General Reference Books
in Law Libraries”; and Arthur W. Fiske, Cleveland Law Library Association, “What
Should an Attorney Expect of Reference Service?”
Elbert H. Gary Law Library of Northwestem University,
46 Law Libr. J. 219 (1953) (with Kurt Schwerin). Roalfe and Schwerin wrote, “Although
interest in a library is to a large extent confined to persons who are in
one way or another directly concerned with it, information relating to a specific
library is often useful to librarians because it provides a basis for the
making of worthwhile comparisons.” And, it also makes for fascinating
history. This is a wonderful snapshot of the state of a first-class academic
Law library in the early 1950s.
Compensation of Law Library Personnel in 1951, 46 Law Libr. J. 18
(1953). Roalfe always felt that librarians were underpaid, and that the ABA,
AALL and AALS needed to work to improve salaries. Bob Roalfe never heard of
the Massachusetts School of Law antitrust law suit!
Libraries of the Legal Profession in American Association of Law Libraries,
Annual Meeting, Fortyfifth, July 7-10, 1952, Proceedings, Reports and Addresses,
45 Law Libr. J. 206 (1952). This is a report on his book, The Libraries
of the Legal Profession. It describes the methodology he used, the
limits of the project and the problems he encountered.
Remarks on the Use and Loan Policy of the Chicago Association of Law
Libraries, 44 Law Libr. J. 202 (1951). A very brief report on the status
of the project.
Panel Discussion on Timesaving Methods in Acquisitions, Accessions, Bookkeeping
and Cataloging, 43 Law Libr. J. 178 (1950) (Roalfe, Chair). Roalfe
did not present a paper, but provided introductory comments for each
speaker and called for questions. Panelists included: Bernita Davies, University
of Illinois, “The Key Sort Card System and the New Photographic Process”;
Forrest Drummond, Los Angeles County Law Library, “Time Saving Methods
in Accessions”; Vincent Fiordalisi, Rutgers Law Library, “Time
Saving Methods in Functional Accounting”; Julius Marke, New York University
Law Library, “The Divided Catalog As a Time Saver at the New York
University Law Library”; and Flossye Newhart, Washington State Law
Library, “Where to Compile a Subject Catalog.”
Some Observations on Teaching Legal Bibliography and the Use of Law Books,
1 J. Legal Ed. 361 (1949). Fairly standard and unimaginative restatement of
some of the views of the day concerning the problems associated with the teaching
of legal bibliography. This is probably because he was talking to an audience
of law professors and law school administrators, whom, he believed, did not
fully understand the issues involved.
Necessity for Quantitative as well as Qualitative Library Standards,
2 J. Legal Ed. 166 (1949). Roalfe was always active in the ABA, AALL and AALS
in the developing of accreditation standards for law school law libraries.
What is fascinating about this article is that the call is for more quantitative standards
for law school library inspections, the exact opposite of today's cry. The
dangers which Roalfe scoffed are today cited as the reasons standards need
to rely less on numbers. In fairness, Roalfe could not have anticipated the
technological revolution which would overtake libraries in the 1980s.
Formulation of the Interpretations to the Library Requirements of the
Association of American Law Schools, 40 Law Libr. J. 229 (1947). More
on accreditation of law school libraries.
The Duke University Law Library: An
Account of Its Development,
35 Law Libr. J. 41 (Mar. 1942). Interesting account of the formation and growth
of the Duke Law Library during Roalfe's tenure there.
Panel Discussion on Book Selection, 35 Law Libr. J. 335 (1942).
Roalfe was the panel leader. Panelists included Michalina Keeler, Hartford
Bar Association Library, and Alfred. A. Morrison, University of Cincinnati
Law Library. Interesting approach to panel discussion. Roalfe provided examples
of some recent publications, and the panelists spoke on whether or not libraries
would purchase them.
Relationship Between Work of the Committee on Classification and Pay,
Plans and Work of the Joint Committee on Cooperation Between the Association
of American Law Schools and the American Association of Law Libraries,
34 Law Libr. J. 19 (1941). Brief discussion on how the work of the two committees
overlap and are different.
Proceedings of the 35th Annual Meeting of
the American Association of Law Libraries: Luncheon Meeting of Law
School Library Inspectors and the Joint Committee on Cooperation Between
the Association of American Law Schools and the American Association of
Law Libraries, 33 Law Libr.
J. 259 (1940). Roalfe, as Chair of the Committee, presided over the meeting.
This is a transcript of the meeting. The meeting was called to decide if
the ten law school library inspectors should be consolidated with the Joint
Committee on Cooperation. Roalfe was one of two present who was a member
of both groups. The new committee would be expanded to twelve members.
Increasing Need for Bar Libraries in Smaller Cities, 25 A.B.A. J.
509 (1939). A call to action to the Bar of the United States. With the continued
growth of legal materials, Roalfe felt a greater need than ever to make the
materials available to the local bar. The article is another example of Roalfe's
unrelenting public relations drive to raise the visibility of law libraries
and law librarians.
Essentials of an Effective Law School Library Service, 31 Law Libr.
J. 335 (1938); Relation of the Library to Legal Education, 31 Law
Libr. J. 141 (1938); Some Suggestions for Improving the Law School Library
Service, 32 Law Libr. J. 1 (1939). This is a series of three articles
which Roalfe published on the Law School Library. They helped establish him
as one of the deep thinkers of the profession and give insights to his personal
philosophy. See the accompanying chapter for a more in-depth look at these
Development of the American Association of Law Libraries under the Expansion
Plan, 31 Law Libr. J. 111 (1938). Update of the Roalfe Plan.
American Association of Law Libraries, Thirty-First Annual Meeting, August
20-22, 1936, Proceedings and Addresses, 29 Law Libr. J. 95 (1936).
These proceedings are listed here because these are the proceedings of
the Annual Meeting held at Harvard Law School during Roalfe's presidency.
While Roalfe's comments can be found throughout the proceedings, especially
worth noting are: a Welcoming Address by Roalfe at page 95; a Report
from the President on page 114; an Outline of Plan for Further Expansion
of Activities of the American Association of Law Libraries at page 133;
and a toast at the Saturday evening dinner at the Wayside Inn on page 243.
Status and Qualifications of Law School Librarians, 8 Am. Law. Rev.
398 (1936). This article is the result of a talk Roalfe gave at an annual
meeting. Hicks convinced Roalfe to give the talk and publish it.
Activities and Program of the American Association of Law Libraries,
29 Law Libr. J. 7 (1936). This is a paper read at the Round Table on Library
Problems at the Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Association of American
Law Schools, New Orleans, Louisiana, Dec. 28, 1935. It concerned the status
of the Roalfe Expansion Plan. Roalfe was the president of AALL at the time.
American Lawyers and Their Books, 22 A.B.A. J. 241 (1936). This
was one of the public relations articles which Roalfe wrote to increase the
visibility and state the need for qualified law librarians.
Report of Committee on Roalfe Expansion Plan, 27 Law Libr. J. 40
(1934). Roalfe was the primary writer of the report.
American Association of Law Libraries Report of Committee on An Expansion
Program, 25 Law Libr. J. 177 (1932). As the Chair, Roalfe was the primary
Letter to the President of the Association (Parma), September 11, 1930,
24 Law Libr. J. 60 (1931). The letter which resulted in the formulation of
the Roalfe Plan. This is probably the single most important piece of correspondence
in the history of the Association. It is reprinted in total in the accompanying
Book Review, 4 J. Legal Educ. 370 (1952)
(reviewing George P. Weisiger & Bernita
Long Davies, Manual for Use of Law Books (4th ed. 1951)).
Book Review, 44 Ill. L. Rev. 558 (1949) (reviewing Carlton B. Putnam, How
to Find the Law (4th ed. 1949)).
Book Review, 41 Law Libr. J. 375 (1948) (reviewing Esther Lucile
Brown, Lawyers, Law Schools and Public Service (1948)).
Book Review, 43 Ill. L. Rev. 128 (1948)
(reviewing Arthur S. Beardsley & Oscar
C. Orman, Legal Bibliography and the Use of Law Books, 2nd ed. (1947)).
Book Review, 30 Cornell L. Q. 131 (1944) (reviewing Robert Bowie
Anderson, A Supplement to Beale's Bibliography of Early English Law Books (1943)).
Book Review, 31 Law Libr. J. 19 (1938) (reviewing Yale
Law Library Manual: The Building, Books and Their Availability for
Book Review, 3 So. Cal. L. Rev. 449 (1930) (reviewing Lectures
on Legal Topics (1930)).
Book Review, 3 So. Cal. L. Rev. 238 (1930) (reviewing Dwight G.
McCarty, Psychology for the Lawyer (1929)).
Book Review, 2 So. Cal. L. Rev. 198 (1928) (reviewing William Searle
Holdsworth, Some Lessons from our Legal History (1928)).
Kurt Schwerin, William R. Roalfe (1896-1979): A
Tribute (obituary), 8
Intl. J.L. Libr. 3 (1980). Schwerin was the International
Law Librarian at Northwestern and a long-time friend of Roalfe.
Kurt Schwerin, Memorials: William R.
Roalfe (obituary), 73
Law Libr. J. 236 (1980).
William R. Roalfe in Who's Who in Library Service (Shoe
String Press, 1966).
The Archives of the American Association of Law Libraries, located at the
University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana, is the home of the Roalfe papers.
The papers consist of over 13,000 pages and are available on ten rolls of
microfilm. They deal predominantly with his responsibilities in the various
offices he held in AALL, AALS, and IALL and contain manuscripts of many of
his articles. The Duke University Law Library and Northwestern Law Library
also contain a limited number of papers of Roalfe, mostly concerning internal
operations from the time he spent at those institutions.
William R. Roalfe & Kurt
Schwerin, The Elbert H. Gary Law Library of Northwestern University,
46 Law Libr. J. 219, 219 (1953).
2. Telephone interview with Janet
Sinder, Head of Reference, Duke University Law Library (Feb. 5, 1996).
3. 35 Law Libr. J. 41, 42-44 (1942).
4. Id. at 45-46.
5. WILLIAM R. ROALFE, LIBRARIES
OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION 397 (1953).
6. Jean Ashman, Current Publications,
45 Law Libr. J. 121 (1952).
7. 46 Law Libr. J. 219 (1953).
8. Id. at 225.
9. Id. at 224.
10. See text accompanying note
11. William R. Roalfe, 8 Am.
Law. Rev. 398 (1936).
13. Letter from William R.
Roalfe to Frederick Hicks (May 28, 1938) (on file in Roalfe Papers, AALL Archive,
University of Illinois) [hereinafter Roalfe Papers].
14. William R. Roalfe, Frederick
C. Hicks: Scholar-Librarian: Biography, 50 Law Libr. J.
15. 31 Law Libr. J. 141 (1938).
16. 31 Law Libr. J. 335 (1938).
17. 32 Law Libr. J. 1 (1939).
18. 31 Law Libr. J. 141, 149
(1938). It is interesting to note that Roalfe referred to the law library
as a teaching aid. This language seems a little archaic to modern law librarians.
19. Each of these books are
described in more detail in the accompanying bibliography.
20. See Widening Scope
of Law Librarianship - A Forum, 50 Law Libr. J. 403, 416 (1957) (Vernon
Smith's comments on Roalfe's book).
21. ALBERT J. HARNO, LEGAL
EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES (Bancroft-Whitney 1953).
22. LIBRARIES OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION
23. Id. at 393-407.
24. Id. at 407-10.
CARLTON B. PUTNAM, HOW TO FIND THE LAW: A COMPREHENSIVE TREATMENT
OF THE PROBLEMS OF LEGAL RESEARCH WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM VARIOUS PUBLICATIONS,
TOGETHER WITH A LEGAL BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR EACH STATE AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
(4th ed. 1949).
26. Introduction, in HOW
TO FIND THE LAW, at ix (5th ed. 1957).
27. The Widening Scope
of Law Librarianship - A Forum, 50 Law Libr. J. 403 (1957) (Roalfe's
As I am sure you know by this time, the charge that the Association
is being run by an inner-circle is a fairly continuous one. It, of course,
has a certain amount of validity because it is inevitable that those who
have been active in the Association for a considerable period of time find
themselves in the positions of responsibility. However, my own view is
that these charges are usually exaggerated. I really think our Association
is fairly flexible and that anyone who is willing to work soon finds himself
an active participant in which case he does share some measure of responsibility
and, if it is important to him, some of the limelight.
Letter to Francis Farmer, Law Librarian, University of Virginia (Feb.
23, 1956) (Roalfe Papers).
29. Organization and
Committee Structure of AALL - A Panel, 60 Law Libr. J. 416 (1967).
30. Memorandum to the Special
Committee on the Creation of the International Association of Law Libraries
(Oct. 8, 1958).
31. Letter from Roalfe to
Arthur Charpentier, Law Librarian, Yale Law School (May 22, 1961) (Roalfe
32. For a more detailed
history of the southeastern chapter of AALL, see Hazel Johnson's chapter
in this book, The Southeastern Chapter of the Association of Law Libraries: The
First Chapter. See also Sarah Leverette & Lucile Elliot, History
of the Carolina-South Eastern Chapter, 1937-1955, 49 Law Libr. J.
180, 181-82 (1956).
33. Cooperation in Law
Library Service, A Panel, 49 Law Libr. J. 430 (1956).
34. 23 Law Libr. J. 60-63
35. Proceedings of the
Twenty-Sixth Annual Meeting, 24 Law Libr. J. 153 (1931).
36. Id. at 154.
37. Id. at 160.
38. Id. at 156.
39. 25 Law Libr. J. 177
41. Id. at 194.
42. It is worth mentioning
that Roalfe had several long-term illnesses during his life all of which
he seemed to weather well, and he managed to live to the ripe old age of
83. It makes what he accomplished as a librarian even more remarkable.
Roalfe was also ill for much of the month of May 1936, and he believed
it affected his ability to serve effectively as AALL president. Roalfe
offered to resign but was asked by Helen Newman and others to stay on.
He agreed and in a letter of June 27th to Miss Newman he stated that he
was feeling much better.
43. Wednesday Evening
Session, June 27, 1934, Round Table, 27 Law Libr. J. 132, 133 (1934).
44. Id. at 138.
45. Id. at 139.
46. 28 Law Libr. J. 3 (1935).
His tenure was not without its amusing moments, however. In a letter
to Helen Newman, discussing the editing of the proceedings of the 1935
meeting, Roalfe was forced to edit comments in proceedings by Miss Magee
of the Louisiana State Law Library concerning Huey Long. In addressing
the annual meeting, Miss Magee rose to toast Huey Long, “He is noted for considerably more than the tropical
violence of the color of his pajamas. He has done more for Louisiana than
any other public official. We love him; we feel that he is on the straight
and short path to future greatness.” Both felt that these comment,
were inappropriate for the official proceedings, although in hindsight,
they may have spiced them up considerably! Long would be dead within a
few months (Sept. 1935) - the victim of an assassin's bullet.
48. The first paid executive
secretary was Helen Newman, Director of the George Washington University
School of Law Library.
49. Memorandum to committee
on Expansion. (March 23, 1938) [Roalfe Papers].
50. 35 Law Libr. J. 419
51. 49 Law Libr. J. 105
Roalfe's interest in law librarianship and Association politics continued
during the war. In his correspondence from 1942 and 1943 are expressions
of great concern about the possible nomination of William “Billy” Johnston as
the new president of AALL. Johnston was 75 years old at the time and considered
one of the old school. He was also a friend of Sidney B. Hill, who was
not well liked by many in the Association. He was likened to an old party
boss who refused to change with the profession. Johnston was seen as little
more than one of Hill's lieutenants. Roalfe, along with Frederick Hicks,
Helen Newman, Alfred Morrison and others in the Association, would have
much preferred to see Miles O. Price nominated for President. Hicks wrote
that he “thought of him [Johnston] as thoroughly unrepresentative
of the better type of law librarian.”
In a letter from AALL vice president/president-elect Alfred Morrison to
Roalfe, Morrison expressed his unhappiness with the choice but was flattered
by those who compared him to John L. Lewis for his battles with Hill. Miles
Price was more charitable - referring to Johnston as an amiable windbag
- but he felt awkward about the controversy and uncomfortable at being
the choice of the younger group. When Price was not nominated, an attempt
was made to write him in on the ballot. While the effort failed, Miles
Price was subsequently nominated and served as the next president of the
Association from 1945-46, no doubt in part because Roalfe served on that
53. Harrison MacDonald, History
of AALL: Up to Now, 1943-1955, 49 Law Libr. J. 126. (1956)
54. Proceedings of the
54th Annual Meeting of AALL, Report of the Special Panel on New Horizons,
47 Law Libr. J. 362(1954).
55. Memorandum to AALL Special
Committee on the Creation of the International Association of Law Libraries
(July 18, 1958) [Roalfe Papers].
56. Dr. Frank Porter Graham
had been the president of the University of North Carolina and later a
United Nations Mediator for Kashmir.
57. Letter from Estelle
Linzer, UNA/USA historian, to author (Feb. 1, 1996) (on file with author).
58. Telephone interview
with Estelle Linzer, UNA/USA historian. (June 31, 1996).
59. Organization and Committee
Structure of AALL - A Panel, 60 Law Libr. J. 416, 421 (1967).
60. Conversation with Julius
Marke, Director, St. John's University School of Law Library (July 17,
1995, AALL Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh).