University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law Law Library

Books, Bytes, Bricks and Bodies: Thinking About Collection Use In Academic Law Libraries

Michael Chiorazzi [1]
Director of the Law Library and Professor of Law
and Information Resources & Library Science


At the March 1999 AALL/Duke Law Library conference, “Space Planning and Technology for Academic Law Libraries,” Professor Penny Hazleton presented a paper that begins to answer the question asked of every librarian beginning a new building project: “But it all will be online. Why do you need so much space for books?” In her study of the collection of the University of Washington Gallagher Law Library, she determined that if she were to remove the hard copies of everything that was available on Lexis or Westlaw, only 13% of the collection could be withdrawn.

Her talk and accompanying handout intrigued me. Every so often we read something that causes us to stop and reassess our view of things - I call it “things that make you go hmmm!” I asked her to let me publish it in Legal Reference Services Quarterly (LRSQ).[2] Here was the first attempt of which I was aware to quantify the perceived move from paper to digital law collections. Yet, something was not quite right. Why was it, that in spite of Hazleton’s numbers, use of our paper collections appears to decline while more and more research seems to occur in an online environment? We all see it in our libraries - for far too many students, if it is not online, it doesn’t exist. This is not unique to academic law libraries. To see what is happening in law firms, one need only monitor the listserv law-lib, where withdrawn sets of the National Reporter System, offered for the cost of shipping, go begging. We spend increasing amounts of time reminding students, and sometimes even faculty, what is available in our paper collections.

Shortly after the Duke conference, a discussion arose on the law library directors’ listserv lawlibdir concerning the relocating of infrequently used collections into off-site storage. Professor Roger Jacobs of Notre Dame School of Law Library wrote a thoughtful, cautionary email describing the pitfalls of off-site storage in which he quoted Karl Llewellyn’s threat of the available:

This is the lesson from the almost inevitable tendency in any thinking, or in any study, first to turn to the most available material and to study that-to study it exclusively-at the outset; second, having once begun the study of the available, to lose all perspective and come shortly to mistake the merely available, the easily seen, for all there is to be seen.[3]

Hmmm. Does that ever ring true! How often have we been at the reference desk helping a student who “has looked everywhere, but can’t find anything on X,” only to find that she has not bothered to visit the online catalog or periodical indexes in her research. Their initial reaction is to avoid anything in print in favor of the electronic. Increasingly, we feel fortunate if the student has at the very least searched Lexis or Westlaw rather than rely on a “cruise” with an Internet search engine. An exaggeration? Perhaps, but not much.

Shortly after Professor Jacobs posting came an email with the subject line, In Defense of Remote Storage,[4] from Professor Harry (Terry) Martin, of Harvard Law Library.[5] It is, in my opinion, the best single submission ever posted on the lawlibdir listserv[6] - a brilliant, three page defense of the Harvard Law Library’s decision to store over 400,000 volumes off-site during the renovation of the library. He cites Professor Hazleton’s article, along with the Pareto Principle, Bradford’s law of scatter, and Garfield’s law of concentration,[7] to support the proposition that most of these materials are so rarely used that off-site storage is a viable option.

Professor Martin articulated many of my concerns (things that make me go hmmm!) about what Hazleton’s numbers did not say. All books and periodicals are not equal. The Pareto principle, along with Bradford’s and Garfield’s laws, seem to put the numbers in a more meaningful context. I asked Professor Martin to consider working his email into an article for LRSQ. He politely declined, and I was now hooked.

I decided to expand the analysis beyond the context of off-site storage. What about the design of new library space or the redesign of existing space? Do we need to fundamentally reexamine the way we think about space? That is, is it important to now focus on the use of the collection, rather than the space collections occupy? Will this affect collection development? Have we turned the digital corner; is the totally digital academic law library now a practical and necessary reality for those brave enough to create one? I decided to educate myself and began a literature search in the library literature, first that of Pareto, Bradford, and Garfield, then bibliometrics and library science.[8]

Next, I looked for other hard data that might support the use of the Pareto Principle for collection planning, and might also help explain the apparent disconnect between use and collection development. There is very little useful statistical data out there for space planning, and the little that there is has not been examined in law library literature, with the notable exceptions of Professor Hazleton’s article, an article by George Grossman and a book by Stephen Margeton.[9] I looked to ABA and ARL statistics to determine if their statistical gatherings could provide any insights. Perhaps there was enough data to further develop these laws and principles to assist in both library space and collections design.

This paper is the result of my examination of the available data. It is only a beginning; it is neither systematic nor scientific. It is my hope that it will, however, present some useful data and act as a primer and starting point in the discussion and development of models to anticipate library growth in this new century, particularly as they relate to collection development and library space. Will libraries soon be viewed as the train stations of the 21st century - wonderful, romantic statements of a time long since past?

This article does not describe my vision of the future; the beginning of the new millennium brought us much of that.[10] Rather, I will attempt to assemble some objective measures and data, which may be useful in forecasting change. This is merely an attempt to accumulate the useful and perhaps examine a few speculations; it is also a call to those who are looking for worthwhile research projects and further empirical research. At worst, it may provide you with some information or things that make you go Hmmm!

Some preliminary definitions

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of use (or need) is met by 20% of the available resources. Dr. J.M. Juran has written that it is a shorthand for a phenomenon that in any population which contributes to a common effect, a relatively few of the contributors account for the bulk of the effect. Or, stated a third way:  the vital few and the trivial many. The principle is actually incorrectly attributed to the Italian socio-economist, Vilfredo Pareto.[11] It has been used and misused in every imaginable business context. In meetings:  80% of decisions come from 20% of meeting time. In management:  80% of your managerial problems and headaches are caused by 20% of your staff; and 80% of your manager’s interruptions come from the same 20% of people. A search of the web even revealed its use by a vacuum cleaner company, which stated that 80% of vacuuming takes place on 20% of the carpet. Pareto’s thesis was simply that the majority of wealth was in the hands of a few individuals, and that distribution was unchanged from country to country.

Bradford’s Law (sometimes called Bradford’s law of scatter) states, “that the most significant articles to any given field of investigation are found within a relatively small group of publications. A few journals publish a high percentage of the articles in the field; and, there are many journals that publish only a few articles.”[12] This supports the Pareto Principle as well as the arguments for the practicality of off-site storage. The law is named after its creator, librarian Samuel Clements Bradford.

Garfield’s Law of Concentration argues that there is a large overlap between disciplines and that material only tangentially related to a particular discipline often comprises the core of another discipline. The Law of Concentration was developed by Eugene Garfield, the founder of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and creator of the Science Citation Index (SCI). Interestingly, Garfield’s work in bibliometrics was inspired by his examination of Shepard’s Citations.

Bibliometrics (or as Garfield preferred, Citationology) and Cybermetrics:   Bibliometrics is a standard method of information analysis that seeks to quantify the process of written communication. It has evolved over time. It often involves the statistical analysis of citations by author, subject or publication to determine the work’s impact on scholarly communication and the development of the literature of a subject area. Shepard’s and Keycite are two examples of bibliometric tools that analyze legal citations. Cybermetrics is a subset of bibliometrics that deals with analysis of information on the worldwide web. Bradford’s and Garfield’s Laws are considered bibliometric laws.[13]

Pareto and digital collection development

Intuitively, the Pareto Principle makes sense to law librarians. It also goes a long way toward answering the question posed to Professor Hazelton by her law school’s faculty and administration. If one assumes that the electronic publishers have made their decisions on what to digitize and make commercially available based on use - that which is most heavily used will be most profitable - then Professor Hazleton’s numbers tell us something. If we look a little bit closer at what she excluded in her study and add it to the formula, it is easy to argue that we may have already reached Pareto’s 20%.[14] That is, 80% of the research needs of the law library’s patrons (students, faculty and lawyers) are met by 20% of the library’s collections that are available digitally. It may even be arguable that given the nature of legal research, and the amount of time attorneys spend on cases, statutes and regulations, it might be more accurate to say that 90% of the use is on 10% of the materials.

This may be viewed as little more than educated guessing. There is little in the way of hard data. In addition to the Hazleton study there are a few articles and book chapters that shed some light on law library use, which I will describe later. A relative goldmine of information could be provided in the marketing studies of Lexis and Westlaw, if only they were willing to make these trade secrets available to researchers.

We do have a large body of library literature dealing with use in university and medical library settings, which offers us insights, but little that is directly applicable to our unique setting. What little information on legal publishing is available comes from Dan Dabney, Senior Director of Research and Development at West Group:

I don’t know that marketing has the kind of information you imagine that we have, but if we do it probably is considered highly confidential. I can contribute a little data on the concentration of use, however, and it shows that the use of legal databases is very top-heavy indeed. If you look at the distribution of queries run among our databases, you find that 91.8% of the queries are run in only 8.2% of the databases.
But that may understate the concentration a little. Some documents are to be found in more than one database. For example, Supreme Court cases can be found in SCT, ALLFEDS, and ALLCASES, and all three of those databases are among the top dozen on the query frequency list. If you look at “finds” (a count that included KeyCite jumps and other hypertext links as well as explicit find commands typed by the user), you see that 95.16% of the finds go to the top 4.84% of the find databases.[15]

Think about that! While this is only one snapshot of use, it does confirm the general impression of use of legal materials by researchers. Unfortunately, I have been unable to collect more meaningful data from West, and nothing from Lexis. I can only assume they are afraid of revealing trade secrets.[16]

Exhibit 2, the core of Hazleton’s article is entitled, “One Law Library’s Attempt to Analyze the Size of the Law Library Collection and the Impact of Westlaw and Lexis.”[17] Professor Hazleton operated from the following perspective:  What part of her hard copy (paper) collection could be removed because it was available on Lexis and Westlaw? Would there be a significant space savings if the new law library relied on digital materials? She was dealing with an immediate future:  planning was underway, and ground was to be broken within two years. She developed formulas to try to anticipate future growth of the collections she measured, but wisely “punted” and made no effort to forecast new digital initiatives. Ultimately, her report was a defense of the space that had already been allocated to the new law library.

There is an implicit assumption in Hazleton’s study that all legal materials are created equal - she made no attempt to empirically study use (a time consuming and near Herculean task). While her study was not meant to be a cost-benefit analysis, shouldn’t collection use be considered in such an analysis? Isn’t future use a critical element missing from her answer to the question posed by her faculty? Weren’t they really asking for a cost-benefit analysis?

This is not to say that Professor Hazleton ignores use. She mentions collection use several times in her discussions.[18] Rather, without some sort of empirical analysis of use, her conclusions are based on incomplete data. Ultimately, while her conclusions ring true to librarians, they are merely informed judgments.

Her research also begs the question: what about the other 80% of our collections? Do we really need it? Given the cost of new space and the cost of acquiring all this seldom used material, is it time to rethink our law libraries’ collection development policies? Does the use of our various collections justify the expense? I will now attempt to look more deeply into the available data to see if it tells us anything useful.

The digital library - is it viable?

Let’s look at this collection development issue from a digital perspective. Can we create a digital law library that will meet the majority of our patrons’ legal research needs? I am not just talking about those legal materials available on Lexis and Westlaw, but also other major digital collections and the Internet. For purposes of this argument I will focus on academic law libraries, because I think this is the toughest case. Law firm, state and court libraries may not be fair measures, because, with rare exception, their primary focus is on practice-oriented rather than research-oriented materials.

First, let’s look at primary legal materials. Virtually all of American case law is available electronically. In fact, Lexis and Westlaw make more case law available electronically than in hard copy. The current codes of all fifty states, the District of Columbia, the American territories and the federal government are all available electronically. Most of the state and the federal codes are annotated. State and federal session laws are available for the last ten years;[19] federal and state bills from 1991. The last twenty years of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations are also available digitally.[20] Many cities municipal codes are also available electronically through state and city web sites.

There is also an increasing array of valuable secondary sources. Congressional Universe contains the full text of legislative history beginning with 1986 and has the indexing and abstracting back to 1789. It also contains bill tracking and commentary on current legislation.

For case finding tools, the American Law Reports (ALR) and the West’s digests are available electronically. U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs and oral arguments are available beginning in 1991. Docket information is also increasingly available - something that has always been extremely difficult and time consuming to search. While the electronic version of Shepard’s does not duplicate the paper version, the electronic version that is available is infinitely preferable to the paper. KeyCite is only available electronically. The print version of Shepard’s Citations is rapidly disappearing from our reading rooms.

Legal periodical literature is also widely available electronically - although at present a good rule of thumb is that the coverage only extends to the last ten years or so. This is changing will the introduction of HeinOnline, a digitization project that hopes to make available complete runs of all university law review and journals. Hein hopes to complete the project by 2010.[21]

Other types of legal commentary, such as encyclopedias, treatises, loose-leaf services, practice manuals, newsletters and continuing legal education materials have also made their electronic presence felt. American Jurisprudence 2d and portions of Corpus Juris Secundum[22] are available through Westlaw, as are Black’s and Ballentine’s Law Dictionaries. The publishers CCH, RIA and BNA dominate the loose-leaf publication business and most, if not all, of their products are available in electronic format. All of the AmJur practice materials[23], PLI’s, CEB’s, and many other bar publications are now available online.[24] The families of Mealey’s and Anderson newsletters are all available through Lexis and Westlaw. And, perhaps most importantly for many researchers, Matthew Bender treatises are now available in electronic format. Serious, exhaustive, scholarly commentary in the law is now available electronically and continues to grow at an almost exponential rate.

Access to government information also seems to be growing exponentially. The state and federal governments have made major commitments to developing their web sites. And they are expanding beyond the delivery of primary legal authority. Significant commentary is now often included. The EEOC web site, for example, has materials that clearly explain the law and how to file a discrimination complaint. The EPA web site offers a stunning array of environmental sources. While there is good reason to worry about government’s ability to properly archive this material, these things have a way of working themselves out. After all, the web is really less than ten years old, and it has only matured in the last five.

International and foreign law research is also evolving. Many international law scholars can now operate almost totally in a digital environment. The UN is a major producer of digitally available international legal materials, but many other organizations are entering the market. The National Center for Inter-American Trade, for example, offers text to Latin American materials and translation services through its web site.[25]

All of this is actually less than 20% of the average law library hard copy collection and it may account for more than 90% of the use. I think it is fair to say that the legal materials available digitally exceed Pareto’s Principle. Projects like the Hein Company’s Hein-On-Line are proof of this proposition. The niche publishers are going after the smaller pieces of the legal publishing pie. While Vilfredo Pareto is no longer with us, I will take his name to identify what I consider a core collection of legal materials for an academic law library. This core, Pareto’s Law Library easily contains the 20% of the average academic law library that receives 80% of the use.

Pareto's law library collection of 25,000 volumes

West's National Reporter System, L.Ed. & US Reports
State codes
Digests (combination of state & federal)
Legal encyclopedias
Treatises and loose-leaf (BNA, CCH, RIA)
Law reviews & journals


Let’s look at how I developed this core collection. Using Hazleton’s numbers from her article, let me start with the volume count of West’s National Reporter System combined with the official US and L. Ed. Reports: just under 12,000 volumes. All fifty state codes total 2,790 volumes - let’s round up to 3,000. One copy of the USC, USCA, USCS, USCCAN and CFR combined works out to approximately 1,000 volumes.[26] Now we’re at 16,000 volumes. Add 2,000 volumes of digests (using some locally developed formula of state and federal digests),[27] the ALR series with just under 900 volumes, and 2,100 volumes for treatises and loose-leafs (PLI’s, Matthew Bender, West treatises, CCH, BNA, RIA, etc.),[28] encyclopedias (CJS and AmJur2d - under 400 vols.), the Current Law Index (LegalTrac), and Shepards (together, under 400 vols.). Now we’re up to 21,000 volumes. Finally, we add 4,000 volumes for law reviews and legal periodicals. While the number is one of convenience - it gets me to a nice round number - it is also, I would argue, defensible. (I’ll go into more detail about this later in the paper.) We now have an excellent core collection of 25,000 volumes - almost all of which is available online, predominantly through both Lexis and Westlaw.

Why only 4,000 volumes for law reviews and periodicals for this core collection when as much as 90% of our book budget is serial acquisition? Is it enough? 4000 volumes equals the last ten years of 400 law reviews, journals and legal newspapers. The legal bibliometric literature seems to argue that this formula accounts for the heaviest use of periodical collections. We all know that all legal periodicals have a short shelf life. After 5 years on the shelf their use plummets and all of the major journals, and many of the minor, have been available digitally for the last 10 - 20 years through the online providers.[29] In my own library, we keep the ten most recent years of law periodicals in the main reading room and the older volumes in the basement. Students and faculty rarely seek out this collection. While this may not be a good thing, and it may merely reflect student’s dependence on Lexis, Westlaw and LegalTrac, the fact is that the collection collects dust.

In addition, many schools are beginning to offer free full-text access to their law reviews and journals on the law schools’ own web sites. Isn’t this yet another reason we may soon not need recent issues in paper? With projects like Hein-On-Line and interlibrary loan, we may no longer need to keep these old runs. Finally, and very sadly for most in the academy, most law reviews go unread, or at best skimmed on publication, forever forgotten except by the author, his or her parents, and a dozen or so scholars who share the same interests. While the death knell of the student edited law school law review may not yet have sounded, it is under serious attack.[30] How long, in their current form, can they last?

Measuring collection use

What about use? Isn’t it a relatively easy argument to say that Pareto’s law library, this core collection of 25,000 volumes in our libraries, easily receive 80%, perhaps even 90% of the use? Is it not easier still to argue that 90% of research time is spent on this core 6.25% of the collection? Where is the proof? This gets us to the problem of measuring use.

I think it fair to say that most law librarians and legal scholars would agree that the bulk of research is still the reading of cases and statutes. Dan Dabne’s numbers, mentioned earlier in this article, seem to confirm this and are worth repeating: 91.8% of the queries entered in Westlaw are run in only 8.2% of the databases. What better proof than the introduction of another federal case reporter, the Federal Appendix.The use by attorneys of unpublished opinions made available through Lexis and Westlaw has resulted in the publishing of unpublished opinions! While law librarians immediately reacted to the announcement of the Federal Appendix with a combination of amusement and annoyance, many of us placed our orders because we knew that these cases are already out there and easily available. The creation of the Federal Appendix just further validated these cases as precedent.

While it is easier to argue that the Pareto Law Library meets the needs of the average lawyer or law student, it may not meet 80% of law school faculty needs. For some it may be sufficient, but for a growing number of law faculty, with their broad research needs, more than 20% of their research time may take place outside of this core literature of the law library.They still are the exception that proves the rule. This is not the place to discuss the rise of cross-disciplinary research, but it is arguable that this rise may begin to work against the efficacy of the Pareto Law Library. Still, these observations are experiential, and anecdotal, at best.

We don’t have much in the way of data. A notable exception is the work of Simon Canick, published elsewhere in this issue. Simon’s examination of the footnotes of seven recent law review articles states that 77% of all cited resources were available in full-text electronic form! Over half of the citations (53.3%) were to cases.[31] A larger study, one that included interdisciplinary and subject specific law-related articles would provide further insights.

Measuring use of legal materials in libraries has been primitive at best. Law libraries routinely track circulation and reference statistics; interlibrary loans; Lexis and Westlaw use; and book and serial orders - all of which tell us something of use, but they are little more than snapshots. Are there other ways to effectively capture use statistics? Printing vs. photocopying statistics? Count books that need to be reshelved? Randomly pick researchers and track them in the library to develop user profiles? Patron interviews? Create survey instruments and poll users? The sad truth is any effective measure would be incredibly time consuming and expensive.

Law librarians Gary Bravy and Celeste Feather have come closest to providing an empirical glimpse of law library use in their article, “The Impact of Electronic Access on Basic Library Services:  One Academic Law Library’s Experience.” Bravy and Feather studied photocopying, circulation and reshelving statistics over a ten year period at the Georgetown University Law Library. From 1989-90 to 1998-99 photocopying decreased 44%, student checkout transactions decreased 19%, and the number of books reshelved decreased 53%.[32] They make it clear that “there is no way to directly link the circulation, shelving and vending photocopying usage declines to electronic resources. Nevertheless, there are some strong indicators that the increased availability of electronic resources has been at least one of the factors contributing to these declines.”[33] The results surprise no one and validate widely held law librarians’ perceptions.

As academic law librarians, we anticipate use through examining the research interests of our faculty and the courses our schools offer or there is a clearly defined institutional interest by subject: intellectual property or environmental law; philosophy: law and economics, interdisciplinary or law and society; or regional or practice focuses. These help us anticipate use, but do little to gauge actual use. Geography and demographics may also offer insights. For example, at the University of Arizona, water, immigration, mining, indigenous peoples, elder and community property law-related materials are much more in demand and more heavily used than labor, government contract or admiralty law-related materials. Interestingly, the growing emphasis on interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research throughout the country is taking more of our faculty out of the law library and into the university’s other libraries. Law libraries have traditionally never collected the esoteric non-legal materials that law faculty now increasingly look for, and use of our law collections by at least some law faculty appears to be decreasing. Arguably, this decline is being countered by an increase in use by faculty from across campus.

This is no small matter. Most academic law libraries increasingly find themselves building collections based on the curriculum and faculty interest. It is not the students who push the limits of our collections, but the faculty. If law faculties have less need of our law collections, will the rise of use by university faculties be enough to save us? It will be interesting to monitor the inter/multi/cross disciplinary movement; it may have some significant implications for library growth.

Perhaps most dangerous, if we move to a digital law library, we take the art and science of collection development out of the hands of librarians who understand the specific needs of their institutions and into the hands of vendors. They are motivated by profit rather than the advancement of human knowledge. To quote Star Trek’s Dr. Spock, they seek to serve “the needs of the many over the needs of the few.”[34] Or, to quote the Pareto Principle:  the vital few and the trivial many.[35] The needs of research law libraries run the risk of being viewed as trivial by those who interests are driven exclusively by profit. The money is to be made at the law firm level, not in academic law libraries. Undoubtedly, new vendors and services will rise to meet the needs of research law libraries, but at what cost?

I will never forget a comment by Professor Dick Danner, early in my career at the Duke Law Library, that collection development was the only pure intellectual work in the law library. While he may have been using hyperbole to impress upon me the importance of my collection development responsibilities, the underlying truth was, and is, that collection development is a core, critical task for law librarians as mediators of information. As mentioned previously, we build for our faculty and students - one size does not fit all!

Comparing the costs of digital and paper collections

A look at the ABA Comprehensive Law Library Statistical Tables (1999-2000) provides some interesting insights to the costs of academic law library collections. The average law library budget represents approximately 15% - 17% of law school budgets.[36] There is a clear economy of scale based on student enrollment for law school library budgets. There are 22 ABA accredited law schools with more than 1,000 FTE J.D. students. The mean percentage of those law schools ’ budgets spent on the library is 8.89%, with a median of 8.2%. The range goes from 5.6% - 13.3%. Compare that with the 30 ABA accredited law schools with 400 - 500 FTE JD students. The mean percentage of these law schools’; budgets spent on the library is 18.34%, with a median of 16.15%. The range within the 30 schools is from 10.0% - 35.8%.[37]

Also, as the following chart illustrates, as collection size goes up, the cost per student goes down:

Library Materials Spent per FTE Student:

Volumes/No. Of Libraries Reporting



100,000 - 200,000 vols. (12)
200,000 - 300,000 vols. (45)
300,000 - 400,000 vols. (52)
400,000 or more vols. (74)
All reporting (183)

When one considers the cost of Lexis and Westlaw, some interesting numbers emerge. While is it arguable that either system meets most (80%) of our research needs, even if we subscribe to both services, it only costs us $100 - $110 per FTE student. That’s less than 10% of our overall acquisition budget for both Lexis and Westlaw and only 5% if you chose one of the services. In some schools it may be fair to say that a much higher percentage of use (90 – 95%?) could be accommodated by 5% of the acquisition budget. No wonder schools like the Massachusetts School of Law challenge ABA accreditation standards.[38] It is a fair question to ask: Do we really need all this stuff to provide a quality legal education? Granted if everyone went digital, the cost of these digital collections would undoubtedly rise, but would it ever equal the current level material budgets? And what happens when we factor in the cost of square footage requirements to house these collections?

Seventy-four of the 183 accredited schools reporting to the ABA have volume counts in excess of 400,000.[39] So, Pareto’s law library of 25,000 volumes is less than 6.25% of 40% of all academic law library collections, and less than 10% of every academic law library in the country! While most, if not all of these libraries have multiple copies of many of the titles in Pareto’s Law Library, the digital library in effect provides us with as many “copies” as we will ever need at a price of $100 - $110 per FTE law student. More copies, less space, lower cost ’ what’s not to love? The savings would vary from institution to institution, but they would all be varying degrees of enormous!

Digital law libraries also offer some significant staff savings. Periodicals do not need to be shelved or bound. Several people can use the same item at once, an enormously important factor for schools with large first year research and writing and moot court courses. No fighting for limited resources, no hidden or incorrectly shelved volumes. Loose-leaf services need no filing. Printing from electronic sources is quicker than photocopying from books. Finally, there is the efficiency and convenience of the desktop, no traveling to the library, and 24/7 access.

Still, digital collections have their own hidden costs and it is important not to ignore or make light of them. Dean Montgomery of the Drexel University’s W.W. Hagerty Library has done a comparison of the costs of digital vs. paper collections at her library. As part of the library’s strategic plan, the Dean and library staff decided to go as nearly digital as possible. This meant that in 2001, the library subscribed to 300 print-only journals and over 6000 electronic ones. She found that there were significant costs associated with the maintenance of a digital collection;[40] and while there were also significant cost savings in technical services, circulation and document delivery, these costs were offset by the increase of infrastructure (network, hardware, software, printing, maintenance, etc.) and administrative costs (contract negotiation, change management, budgeting, oversight, etc.). Reference questions decreased while the need for training increased. A higher, better trained, level of staff involvement was required. Overall, the change at Drexel was a positive one. It was anticipated that costs would go down as expertise is gained and patrons and staff become more comfortable with the digital collection. Use of the library’s collections increased, which added to the cost benefit.[41]

Many of the problems faced by Drexel are avoided in law libraries because of our reliance on flat pricing contracts with the two major vendors. Our relationship with Lexis and Westlaw is nothing, if not economically efficient: one contract for thousands of databases, on site training staff and excellent telephone technical support. (At least in relation to other vendors. Think about it, a human being answers the phone, they almost always know the answer, and will quickly refer you or get back to you if they do not have an immediate answer!). They provide hardware, printers and sometimes computers, paper and ink supplies for the printers, and service contracts for the printers should they break down. Where else in this service economy do we get offers of more training and help desk assistance than we need or want? Even if they do have ulterior motives, it is of enormous benefit to our library’s mission.

While we all agree that both Lexis and Westlaw give us much we will never need, the sheer enormity of these databases is mind-boggling. In advertising claims, Lexis-Nexis states that they provide access to over 2.8 billion documents and 30,700 databases. Lexis and Westlaw’s database directories are approaching the size of the Manhattan phone book. And then there are the Internet’s commercial and free web sites. Could anyone have predicted the explosion of governmental and other free web sites on the Internet? I believe Professor Bob Berring is right:  form does mold substance. Our students’ and faculty’s research decisions are based upon what is easily available in Lexis, Westlaw and the Internet.[42]

That is not to say that our reliance on two major vendors is without its concerns. The recent decision of BNA to withdraw from the Lexis and Westlaw databases and only allow access through its own web site is a great example of a sudden hidden cost of relying only on the two major vendors. Should there be any significant move to reliance on online sources rather than paper, the costs of the online services would no doubt skyrocket. Any savings are likely to be short-lived as vendors look to recover losses caused by declining sales in paper products through their online services.

The BNA example also highlights another dilemma. All law school libraries are now looking at a significant cost increase for an electronic service that will still not be available to any of our patrons other than law students and law faculty. We are effectively limiting our missions in a way we have not in the past. The uncertainty of the legal publishing landscape cannot be overemphasized. As Professor Hazleton noted in her article, there is incredible uncertainty if we rely on purely digital sources ’ and every new electronic service seeks to limit those who can use it. A reliance on digital resources may isolate us from the rest of our universities, our alums, the local bar and all of the others we allow to use our collections.

The hybrid library - how long?

Much of the library literature on the future of digital libraries does not involve law libraries; rather, the focus has been on public and academic libraries. Law libraries are a unique subset of special libraries. In the academic environment, law libraries are almost always separate from the university library system, created to serve the law school’s teaching and scholarly missions.

While academic law libraries tend to have a broader mission than law firm libraries, law firm libraries are our canary in the mine. Many of the large law firms are dismantling their hard copy libraries and moving to a totally digital environment. Every week on the law-lib listserv comes offers of law libraries available for the cost of shipping. No longer do firm libraries try and create collections equal to academic collections. Do academic libraries need to create collections that mirror those that students will find in law firms?

We often hear from attorneys that they want their law students well grounded in “paper research.”[43] When you talk to them, you realize what they are really saying is that new attorneys fail to properly analyze the cases they find online. By failing to read carefully that which they have found, the young attorney fails to reenter the digital research universe to search for more relevant case and statutory law. Their failure is not their reliance on digital legal research, but rather a failure to carefully read and analyze that which they have found—the complaint of seasoned attorneys since the beginnings of the profession.[44]

Even those lawyers who rely predominantly on online legal research still express a preference for particular paper sources, particularly statutes and secondary sources. But how long will this last? Convenience and efficiency have always affected legal research decisions. Should an attorney come to the law library to use the hard copy annotated code or can she rely on a cheaper online version from a state website? Is it worth the time spent driving, finding parking for a trip to the local law library to read a paper secondary source (is it on the shelf, will I have to photocopy a lot?), or would the time be better spent grappling with the available case law? All research decisions ultimately involve a cost-benefit analysis, and the online approach is increasingly proving to be the better choice in the final analysis. As online efficiencies increase, even if there is a small loss in effectiveness, lawyers will chose the online route; particularly young attorneys who find online legal research more in their comfort zone.

Many would say that law libraries are fundamentally different from other types of libraries. And in many ways they are. With the possible exception of medical libraries, it is hard to imagine a type of library that offers more of its core collections in digital format than the law library.It is not just the commercial publishers who have pushed us into this direction. The federal government and its Government Printing Office (GPO), has made a serious, almost total, commitment to digital information. Currency of information is also vital, a serious shortcoming of the print medium. If the best printing processes delay the transmittal of digital information by weeks, how can they hope to compete with the digital?

Why is it then, that all of the building to date has been of hybrid law libraries - part digital, part paper, with the emphasis on paper? No one has taken the bold step of going “as nearly digital as possible.” Even new law schools like Ave Maria in Michigan and St. Thomas in Minneapolis, while necessarily focusing on digital collections more than most law schools, still look much like their ancient counterparts. Perhaps this is because it is viewed as risky to hook oneself to an uncertain future. They avoid potential accreditation risks. Ownership of a collection seems more permanent than providing access, however reliable that access point may be. As librarians, the shift from ownership to access is unsettling; there is a loss of control of collections in a way previously unknown to librarians. If we build a great paper collection and fiscal calamity strikes, the collection still retains some value - it is an asset. The day the law library cancels a digital subscription, the collection vanishes without a trace; there is nothing to show for years of spending. Or as previously mentioned in the BNA example, costs suddenly and unexpectedly, skyrocket. One can only wonder what will happen if many of the publishers who provide text to Lexis and Westlaw decide to unbundle their services from these two major legal database providers.

As we add databases, search access also becomes an issue. While the future is bright, at present most of these digital collections are not cataloged. The online catalog is a wonderful current awareness device in the hands of a moderately sophisticated researcher. The database choices currently available, at least in a research university, are mind-boggling. Yet, in spite of aggressive public relations efforts to make them aware of the availability of these databases, the lack of cataloging often leaves many of our most proficient researchers unaware of this vast array databases at their disposal. We need to do a better job promoting these resources, if not though cataloging, them through locally created research guides and pathfinders.

The electronic publishers continue to look to limit access. Our contracts only provide for Lexis and Westlaw access to law students and law faculty. CCH, BNA and Loislaw, all demand similar limitations. Electronic databases have the effect of limiting interaction with other members of the academy and the general public. Can we afford this, both politically and ethically? For public institutions this may result in a lack of public support, for private institutions a drop in donations. “What have you done for me lately?” may be the question we are increasingly forced to answer.

We also need to ask ourselves a fundamental question:  Do great law schools need great law libraries? The answer is not as certain as it once was.[45] Will we become more like business school’s libraries with small working collections of current materials and only a small collection of classics? Will law schools with great university libraries gain in prominence over schools with lesser university libraries?

If one looks at the budgets of the top twenty-five law school libraries, we see that budgets vary widely. While the “better” schools tend to have larger budgets, some of the best have what can only be considered modest budgets. There is no strong link between law library budget and law school ranking. Given the relatively small part library resources plays in the US News and World Reports Law School Rankings,[46] a rational decision can be made to slash a library’s budget to add faculty. Or, given the emphasis at many schools on improving rankings, why not hire every grad without a job as a research assistant just before the six-month reporting deadline for US News and World Reports? Rumors are, it’s been done!

Our greatest asset and hope may be our faculty - their genetic make-up is such that they tend to love libraries. And from these faculties come our deans, university provosts and presidents. But deans, university provosts and presidents are also increasingly concerned with the bottom line; at some point cutting library budgets in favor of more faculty positions, a bigger development office or creating competitive salaries will be considered. Our survival is not as certain as it once was.

OK, but we own them, what do we do with all these books?

There seems to be a combination of four choices:  (1) install compact shelving; (2) store off-site; (3) toss them; or, (4) redesign stacks and collection placement in our libraries. Let’s look at all four, starting from what I believe is the easiest to that which is the most interesting, realizing that the best solution will probably be a combination of two or more of these approaches.

First, compact shelving. The advantages are obvious:  we increase useable square footage in existing space; we maintain necessary adjacencies (and often improve them); we provide immediate access to the collection and easy ability for patrons to browse the collection; compact shelving has matured into a reliable technology; and, it keeps our volume counts up. The disadvantages:   it is expensive; your library’s floors must be constructed to withstand the weight (which few are); and, the development office will complain that it does not make for a good naming opportunity; it is most definitely not sexy and it can be downright ugly.

A former dean of mine could not resist making one bad compact shelving joke after another. He viewed compact shelving as the ultimate in librarian weirdness. I think at its core, his comments reflect the fact that compact shelving is ugly, uninspiring, and creates a feeling of working in a warehouse. It does not invite the reader to browse, reflect, freely explore—it is anti-scholar and anti-democratic. The aesthetic of open stacks are very real. Most stacks have aisles of 36 inches. In my library the aisles are 42 inches. That extra six inches makes the stacks much more appealing and allows for more light. They are less claustrophobic. They encourage the reader to pause and shelf read.

Still, much of our collection use would probably be only marginally affected if they were placed in compact shelving. Reporters, older law review and journal runs, government documents, superceded materials, and state materials like reporters and session laws (other than the jurisdiction in which the school is located) are obvious candidates. Treatises may be best housed in stacks that can be easily browsed, but older editions can easily be placed in compact shelving.

Now let’s consider the second option:  off-site storage. Here it gets a little trickier. It is the concern voiced by Roger Jacobs in his email, in which he quoted Llewellyn’s threat of the available. Simply stated, will we face the paradigm of out of sight, out of mind? While a 24 or 48 hour turn around for retrieval may be acceptable to some, is it good service? Once we start down the road of providing less, rather than more, we run the risk of becoming marginalized. Our strength has always come from anticipating research needs, not making scholarship more difficult. Terry Martin’s Harvard experience may be a bit of an anomaly. In fact, everything about Harvard is probably different. It is the biggest law library in the country, has the largest staff, and the best known. Off-site storage at Harvard just makes the Harvard stacks look more like other not so large academic research collections—it separates the wheat from the chaff.

There is little doubt that the availability of electronic resources has caused use of certain areas of our collection to plummet. In the past, many law libraries would keep the unbound issues of law reviews in a reserve collection. This is now rarely the case. Many libraries keep their older journals and law reviews in compact shelving or off-site storage, with little or no apparent inconvenience to the user. They seem like good candidates for off-site storage, especially those that available online. Duplicate sets of reporters can also go with little difficulty.

Either of the previous solutions offers great advantages given the costs of new construction and the difficulty in finding the space for new construction on most campuses. For whatever the reason, for many schools new construction is not an option and renovation may be problematic. Less than ideal options may be the only real solution. As university libraries add storage space there is often the possibility of piggybacking onto the larger project.

What about the third option, tossing them? For all the reasons mentioned earlier in this article, this is a risky business. Even the most digitally focused law librarian would want to take a wait and see approach. While the law firms may chose to dump their paper collections, there has been no indication that any academic law library is willing to do so on a major scale. Granted some law schools have removed their print Shepards collections for the electronic version or KeyCite, and many have dumped or closed their state collections; but most have tended to stay the course. Do we look to the firms to foretell our future? Law schools are, after all, in the business of preparing students for practice. The pressure to digitize may come from the firms. If we look at what the last ten years have brought us, it is impossible to correctly predict what the next ten will bring. One can’t help but believe the forecasters are correct when the talk about society becoming or “being digital.”[47]

Yet it is tempting - toss the books; rely on digital collections and electronic reference - no need for students to come to the library. We free up more room for classrooms, a cafeteria, maybe a gym! My office will consist of Jacuzzi and waterproof laptop! Most library literature now talks within the context of library services rather than collections and physical space. The library may not be viewed as a separate physical space, but it is still viewed as a separate function. The academic law library is still seen as an independent, ascertainable entity. In the academy, its uniqueness is recognized through reporting structure;’ in the vast majority of cases, the law library is under the control of the dean of the law school, not the university library system. So change would not, in most cases, require university approval; just a dean willing to face a potential ABA accreditation challenge. What if a law school with a reputation that ranked it in the top two tiers of American law schools made such a decision; does anyone really believe they would lose their accreditation?

How about the fourth option, redesign of new or existing buildings? In fact, much of this has been going on for years. Reserve collection space is constantly reinvented. The reference desk continues to change. Compact shelving is used in many libraries. Group study space has expanded and the great reading rooms have shrunken or disappeared. Study carrels have grown larger. Computer labs have been created and expanded. IT departments grow within our libraries and without.

But it may be time for more radical redesign. We have yet to fully grasp the changes brought about by technology, hence the problem. Radical redesign may look foolish in a few years. The example of the bunker like computing room at the University of Iowa Law Library comes to mind. They built a secure environment for a main frame that was never meant to be. The architects guessed wrong on the rise of the personal computer. Or did they? As our servers grow in size and number, perhaps a separate climate controlled, secure server room is needed in the modern law school!

Is there some way to fundamentally reexamine library space? How has the emerging digital environment changed what the architects call adjacencies? We no longer think of libraries as just a space; can we unbundle the academic law library in the law school? A few schools have done this in a modified fashion:  faculty offices in the law library or the IT department. The faculty are our heaviest users; shouldn’t they be closer to the intellectual action? While the jury is still out on the question, most law library directors, and perhaps law school deans, believe that the law library should run IT. As IT and AV departments merge, where should their place be? By this I mean physical, rather than intellectual or organizational. What about other groups? Law reviews? Student organizations? Career services? Should we think of creating the new adjacencies?

Libraries have always had single entrances to cut down on theft and ensure that books were properly checked out. Automated self-check out systems resolve the need for a central place to check out materials from the library and you can’t steal digital collections. Why not build the law library in the core of the law school building with several library entrances and exits.

Others have talked and written about using retail design in the creation of law libraries—law library as Barnes & Noble or Borders.[48] Why not have a coffee shop, or better yet, a cafeteria section of the law library? 24-7 is the mantra of the day—should we, could we?[49]

We need to consider noise in new design. Digital resources need to be explained and our training function continues to expand. We need areas where we can talk and areas where quiet reigns, and something in between. Group study rooms are one answer. Smaller, and more, reading rooms are another. Computers need to be fed and housed. Not only are they an ongoing expense, but also in this era of cheaper, faster computers with less support, the library has become the primary means of troubleshooting for students and faculty. There are lines of students waiting to talk to the electronic services librarian and his assistant to help them with hardware or software problems with their computers—lines that long at the reference desk!

I will conclude here. I hope to further explore the topic of law library redesign in a future article. As my own institution begins the process of planning for a new library and information commons, I may get the chance to develop and realize some of these new adjacencies.

Conclusion - in which nothing is concluded

The time is not yet ripe for a move from paper to digital resources, but the paradigm is most definitely shifting. While the current interpretation of ABA standards[50] may provide reason to avoid a totally digital environment, one wonders for how long this interpretation can survive. The digital legal information environment has significantly changed since August of 1996; would the current ABA Interpretation 606-3 survive a legal challenge?

For those schools that do not serve larger university or alumni communities, and hence do not have a responsibility to provide legal materials outside the law school community, the time for change to a more (totally?) digital law collection may be at hand. As mentioned earlier in this article, the cost savings of relying on Lexis, Westlaw and the other major electronic legal resources, would be enormous. For institutions with public missions, at present the political costs of limiting access to the secondary and peripheral communities may be too expensive, but changing economic conditions may necessitate the need to reconsider the amount of support law libraries can give to their secondary clienteles.

Any cost benefit analysis will need to consider, not only the library’s mission, but also the space needed and collection use to determine what is best for the institution. As collection space grows tighter in each institution, the analysis must also include an accurate assessment of the current legal publishing environment. For example, since Professor Hazleton’s article there has been an explosion of secondary sources available electronically. There is no reason to believe this will not continue, although at what cost? Filling library space with books will become increasingly viewed as inefficient. Other alternatives will be sought.

Will we fall prey to the currently popular business mantra of just-in-time delivery of products? It may cause us the rethink our collection development decisions. Book providers like provide quick and easy delivery of many, if not most, legal titles. Do we continue to build for assumed demand, or rely on actual demand? Anticipating demand is clearly less economically efficient that reacting to demand; we all know we have books on our shelves that no one has read. Yet what about the threat of the easily available? We’ve all seen the results of students who limit their research to materials available on the Internet:  a remarkable, skewed mix of valuable information and gaping holes of missing information you can ride a semi-truck through. Yet the fact remains that an enormous amount of previously hard to find information is now available in seconds. The time needed to collect the information necessary to write an article or brief has collapsed into the almost meaningless; when coupled with electronic publishing, the result has been scholarship on demand. It is changing the academy in ways we cannot even begin to comprehend.

We need to reinvent our future, and we will need help. Patterns of use have radically changed in the last few years; the pressure to innovate is enormous. Whether or not our future is exclusively digital, there can be little doubt that there has been a fundamental shift in the use, organization and content of academic law libraries. If we fail to change, we will become little more than reminders of a time long past. “The ivory towers, which have always looked a little like gothic palaces, seem set to become gothic ruins.”[51] And this view is not limited to the academic setting. The US Capital architect would like to convert the US Supreme Court Library into a museum! Why is that? Clearly in his view, the law library has become peripheral to the function of the court. Fortunately, the Court itself seems to know better.

We need to do a better job in determining use patterns in our libraries; identify those uses that may be transitory, and those uses that will remain relatively unchanged. We need to identify, in the words of the business gurus, our core competencies. Why are we needed? What do we do well? How are we different, or better than and Internet search engines? Viscerally, we know the answers, but do our communities? We are not just a delivery mechanism for information, be it digital or paper. It’s not that the faculty who asked Professor Hazleton, “Why do you need all those books?” were asking the wrong question; rather, they should have first asked, how do I use the library, how do my colleagues, my students? How does a law library work, what should our law school library contain?

And ultimately, we will need to reexamine our societal mission. If we do not collect the less heavily used materials, Pareto’s 80%, if we do not preserve our cultural heritage, who will? We run the risk of relying on others until there are no others to rely upon. If every library were to rely on interlibrary loan to supplement its own collections, the system collapses. Is the Internet the solution? In copyright law we speak of fixed media. At present, there seems to be no media less fixed than the Internet.

This discussion needs to be held in our law schools, with university administration, at professional programs like the ABA Bricks & Bytes conference and the AALL and AALS annual meetings, with architects, alumni and donors. Is the law library still the heart of the law school, or is it the circulatory system? Is it a laboratory, information commons or educational technology center? How has the academic mission of our schools changed and what is the effect of that change on our libraries?

Early in this paper I promised that I would not make any predictions. I lied; I will make one safe prediction. I’m betting on a far from paperless digital future. There is a yet to be developed killer application out there that will render Professor Hazleton’s faculty’s question moot. I wish I knew what that next “killer app” was:  the perfect e-book, electronic paper, information receiving implants; but it will happen, and sooner than one might think. We are currently dealing with the digital incunabula. If nothing else, Gutenberg taught us that the consequences of revolutionary technology cannot be accurately understood when in the midst of revolution. Still, we know the direction we are headed; or to put it in a late 20th century perspective: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

[1] Director of the Law Library and Professor of Law and Information Resources & Library Science, James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona.

[2] Penny A. Hazleton, How Much of Your Print Collection is Really on Lexis or Westlaw? 18 LRSQ 3 (no. 1, 1999).

[3] Karl Llewellyn, Legal Tradition and Social Science Method—A Realist’s Critique, in Jurisprudence:  Realism in Theory and Practice 82 (1962). He continues, “The simple available thing in law consists in the rules laid down on the statute books by the legislature, or laid down authoritatively by the supreme court of any given jurisdiction. The statute book is in print. The reports of the Supreme Court are in print. Both are collected and arranged in libraries. And the easiest thing to extract from either or both is the set of rules that they purport to contain. What wonder, then, that these have been the subject matter of our study? What wonder, either, that once the study is begun we come to think of them as occupying the whole field? At the same time, what an absurdity.”

[4] Copy with author.

[5] For another interesting article by Terry, see Harry S. Martin, III, Can You Really Store a Library in Cyberspace? Renovating Langdell Hall & Other Tales, 3 Australian Law Librarian 57 (April/June 1995).

[6] Granted, some may consider this damning by faint praise! The email passes my “I wish I had written that” test. This may also account for my willingness to label the email brilliant.

[7] I will define these terms later in this article.

[8] The web has been particularly helpful in this search. Information and Library School web sites have dozens of their faculty’s articles available in full text. For those of you like me, who have been out of school for twenty years or so, it is a real eye opener; we were educated in very different places.

[9] George Grossman, Housing Books, 79 L. Lib. J. 521 (1987). A must read for anyone starting a building project. Stephen G. Margeton, Introduction to Academic Library Design:  A Features Approach (Fred B. Rothman, 2000).

[10] See, e.g., Nicholas P. Terry, Bricks Plus Bytes:  How “Click and Brick” Will Define Legal Education Space, 46 Vill. L. Rev. 95 (2001); John Mayer, Alternative Futures: The Future of Legal Education, 1 J. L. School Computing; Steve Sheppard, The Role of the Professor in the High-Tech Law School, 1 J. L. Sch. Computing; and, James L. Hoover, A Vision of Law Schools of the Future, 1 J. L. Sch. Computing (at

[11] J.M. Juran, The Non-Pareto Principle:  Mea Culpa, (viewed 9/21/01).

[12] Diodato, Virgil. The Dictionary of Bibliometrics. (Haworth Press, 1994).

[13] This is not the place for a lengthy discussion of bibliometrics or cybermetrics. Both disciplines have a growing literature, much of it available on the Internet. A simple web search of either term will deliver several interesting examples. Bibliometrics is also beginning to receive the attention of legal scholars. The work of Fred Shapiro of the Yale Law Library and Brian Leiter at University of Texas School of Law are particularly intriguing. See, e.g., Brian Leiter, New Educational Quality Rankings of US Law Schools for 2000-2002,;

[14] For a detailed look at what was excluded in the University of Washington study see Hazleton, id. at 6. (Official state reports, state digests, state administrative codes, state citators, English Reports, USCCAN, regional, federal and topical citators, looseleaf services, treatises, legal newspapers and newsletters, etc.)

[15] Email to author from Dan Dabney, October 11, 2001.

[16] Interestingly, in a recent visit, a Lexis representative announced that Lexis now has added core concepts (headnotes) to one million Lexis cases. These one million cases represent the 20% of cases in Lexis that are retrieved in 80% of Lexis searches.

[17] Hazleton, at 7.

[18] For example, “We are a research Law Library. We serve the Law School as well as the rest of the UW, the legal profession and the public. Even if all library patrons had access to Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis, we would need to OWN most primary and secondary sources that are online. A research library must support the work of scholars, not practitioners. We can guarantee access to important legal literature if we can control or own it.” Id., at 12.

Or another, “If the collection were to shrink as a result of technology and use, the Law Library space is planned to be very flexible. More library user spaces could be created or the space could be used for other law school purposes, such as classrooms, offices, institutes and centers, clinics, administration, and more.” Id., at 13.

[19] Congressional Universe has federal public laws since 1988; Westlaw since 1973.

[20] Congressional Universe has the CFR from 1981 and the Federal Register from 1980; Westlaw has the CFR from 1984 and the Federal Register from 1980.

[21] Lexis has over 550 law reviews and journals, Westlaw over 600. While there is very significant overlap, both systems have periodicals not available on the other database. Coverage varies, but generally, they are only comprehensive beginning in the mid-1990’s.

[22] Interestingly, while West owns C.J.S. and Am. Jur. 2d, it has not chosen to make all of C.J.S. available electronically. One wonders what this means about the long-term viability of the product.

[23] AmJur Proof of Facts, Pleading and Practice Forms, etc.

[24] For example, Arizona State Bar publications are available exclusively in electronic format through Loislaw.


[26] USC = 50 vols.; USCA = 250 vols.; USCS =150 vols.; CFR = 300 vols.; USCCAN = 200 vols.

[27]The Decennial digest system is approximately 700 vols.; the Federal Digest is approximately 500 vols.; the five regional digests are approximately 900 vols.; and the individual state digests are anywhere from 75 - 150 vols.

[28]There has been an explosion in the number of treatises available online since Hazleton completed her study. Most Matthew Bender publications are now available online, either through Lexis, Bender’s own web site or the Authority CD-roms.

[29] Lexis has over 550 law reviews and journals, Westlaw over 600. While there is very significant overlap, both systems have periodicals not available on the other database. Coverage varies, but generally, they are only comprehensive beginning in the mid-1990’s.

[30] Bernard Hibbitts, Last Writes? Reassessing the Law Review in the Age of Cyberspace, 71 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 615 (1996).

[31] Simon Canick, Availability of Works Cited in Recent Law Review Articles on Lexis-Nexis, Westlaw, the Internet and Other Databases, 6 Spectrum 13 (October, 2001) (an earlier abbreviated version).

[32] Gary J. Bravy and K. Celeste Feather, The Impact of Electronic Access on Basic Library Services:  One Academic Library’s Experience, 93 L. Lib. J. 261, 264-5 (2001).

[33] Id., at 266.

[34] Star Trek:  The Wrath of Khan (Paramount 1982) (motion picture).

[35] Or, non-Pareto Principle, Juran, at 1.

[36] For an interesting, but somewhat dated look at law library budgets as a percentage of law school budgets, see, Jane L. Hammond, Library Costs as a Percentage of Law School Budgets, 80 L. Lib. J. 439 (1988).

[37] Based on numbers from the 1999- 2000 ABA Library Statistics (April 9, 2001).

[38] Standards for Approval of Law Schools (ABA, 2001). Interpretation 606-3:  At present, no single publishing medium (electronic, print, microform, or audio-visual) provides sufficient access to the breadth and depth of recorded knowledge and information needed to bring a law school into compliance with Standard 606. Consequently, a collection that consists of a single format may violate Standard 606. (August 1995; August 1996).

Those schools who seek to become members of The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) will also need to adhere to a less specific, but seemly more strict, standard:  AALS Bylaws, Section 6-10. Library.

  1. A member school shall maintain a library adequate to support and encourage the instruction and research of its faculty and students. A law library of a member school shall possess or have ready access to a physical collection [emphasis mine] and other information resources that substantially:
    1. Meet the research needs of its students, satisfy the demands of its curricular offerings, particularly in those respects in which student research is expected, and allows for the training of its students in the use of various research methodologies;
    2. Support the individual research interests of its faculty members;
    3. Serve any special research and educational objectives expressed by the school or implicit in its chosen role in legal education.

[39] Based on 1999-2000 ABA Library Statistics (April 9, 2001).

[40] Carol Hansen Montgomery, Measuring the Impact of an Electronic Journal Collection on Library Costs, 6 D-Lib Mag. at 1 (October 2000).

[41] I have found two electronic journals to be particularly helpful in monitoring the digital library literature: Digital Libraries, at; and, Journal Of Digital Libraries at

[42] Robert Berring, Legal Research and Legal Concepts:  When Form Molds Substance, 75 Cal. L. Rev. 15 (1987).

[43] For an interesting story see, Bob Berring, Thinkable Thoughts, 3:3 Law Librarians in the New Millennium 4 (2001).

[44] For a fascinating article on the potential effect of technology on the study and practice of law see, Molly Warner Lien, Technocentrism and the Soul of the Common Law Lawyer, 48 Am. U. L. Rev. 85 (1998).

[45] But see, Daniel Golden, Opening Arguments:  As Law School Begins, It’s Columbia vs. NYU:  Rival Deans Court Students, Faculty: and Controversy; Whose Library is Bigger? Wall Street Journal, Aug. 28, 2001.

[46] Best Graduate School 2002, Law Rankings Methodology, US News & World Reports,

[47] Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital (Knopf, 1995).

[48] Tom Steele, Duke Reprise:  Retail Store Design and Law School Planning, in ABA Conference On Bricks, Bytes and Constant Renovation, March 12, 2000.

[49] It’s been done. Electronic identification cards allow for easy 24/7 access and at least one law library has its own coffee bar.

[50] See footnote 37.

[51] John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, The Social Life of Information 211 (Harvard Business School Press, 2000).