See updated posting (2009) on law library collection development.
[created in 1999] One aspect of library school that I particularly enjoyed was the collection development course work. This policy was my project for the class, in which I attempted to create a collection of legal materials for a private law firm library in Wisconsin and was allocated a $10,000 budget. I decided to place it on the Web because, during my research for the project, I found a dearth of sample policies. I hope this will give you items to consider or some assistance in creating your own policy. The policy reflects my general philosophy that law libraries will, and must, embrace technological formats over print in order to maintain a competitive edge. There will always be a place for print, but whereas its place is prime in academic libraries, my unschooled view is that law firms will rely on the electronic counterparts. Feel free to read through the entire document or use the table of contents to browse.
Macmillan Bulfinch P.C.*
Attorneys at Law
Firm Library Collection Development Policy
Prepared by Head Librarian David Whelan
* This is a fictitious law firm created for the purposes of this project.
- Service Parameters
- Mission Statement
- Collection Development
- General Guidelines
- Selection Guidelines for Individual Formats
- Responsibility for Collection Development
- Gift Policy
- Allocation of Funds
- Collection Evaluation Methodology
- De-selection and Weeding
- Censorship and Legal Issues
- Appendix A: Resource List
- Appendix B: AALL Code of Ethics
- Appendix C: AALL Library Bill of Rights
- Appendix D: AALL Guidelines on the Fair Use of Copyrighted Works by Law Libraries
- Appendix E: Selection List
- Appendix F: Selections
- Appendix G: Donation Form
Macmillan Bulfinch, P.C., is a law firm of nearly one hundred attorneys located in Wisconsin, with offices in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, and Eau Claire. The firm provides general legal counsel to its clients with an emphasis on labor and employment law, and related substantive legal areas.
The collection development policy provides guidelines for the creation and development of the firm’s library in its main office in Milwaukee and this collection will provide an example for the firm’s smaller satellite office libraries. The Milwaukee collection will include some resources that will be shared among all firm offices.
This policy serves as a guide to the acquisition and retention of firm library materials and provides a guideline for planning future library development. This policy ensures that the firm is provided with the most current materials necessary for the modern practice of law.
The Macmillan Bulfinch law library will provide speedy, accurate access to current law-related information required by the attorneys, staff, and clients of the firm. The library provides full-text electronic database access, CD-ROM, and print materials for general legal issues in Wisconsin as well as state and federal labor and employment law issues.
- Be relevant to a firm practice area or primary authority in the controlling federal or state jurisdictions;
- Not cost more than is in the library budget without prior approval by the firm management committee;
- Be primarily practice, rather than research, oriented.
The library will maintain a limited collection of non-serial print materials. These materials include treatises, hornbooks, and other volumes that are renewed only by new editions and pocket parts. These materials will mostly include secondary authority works and thus are not as vital to the collection. Non-serial print materials must:
- Not be duplicated on the firms Westlaw subscription,
- Not be duplicated on the firms CD-ROM subscriptions;
- Not significantly duplicate serial materials.
The firm will maintain a complete collection of primary authority materials for the practice of law in Wisconsin State and United States Federal courts. The firm will rely primarily on serial print materials that must:
- Incorporate finding tools, digests, and citation information sufficient to use the information in legal documents;
- Not significantly duplicate the firm’s Westlaw subscription;
- Provide means of regular and easy updating to ensure currency.
The firm will maintain a current and complete copy of the West National Reporter System Northwestern Reporter Wisconsin Cases in each office.
The firm library will purchase audio and visual material under rare circumstances. These materials must:
- Be provided on VHS video tape or standard cassette or CD audio formats;
- Be primarily focused on professional development;
- Be specifically requested for a particular purpose by an attorney.
The collection will not include software that is installed by the firm’s Information Technology group on all firm computers and servers. The collection will only include software and CD-ROM applications that are for research uses. These applications must:
- Be compatible with a PC-based Windows NT network;
- Not require a software or hardware upgrade that would not otherwise occur according to planning by the Information Technology group;
- Be licensed with unlimited printing and no less than 20 concurrent users;
- Otherwise must comply with software standards created by the Information Technology group.
Online and Internet resources are valuable and yet may not take precedence over print materials due to the possibility that the connection to this information may be severed. Online resources include Westlaw and other proprietary data sources. Internet resources include those Web sites designated by the library staff as being useful or otherwise pertinent to the firm’s practice areas and that are listed by links from practice pages on the library Web site. These resources must:
- Be cost effective in comparison to the comparable print material;
- Conform, if they require additional software on firm PCs, to Information Technology group standards;
- Take into account additional costs due to increased server capacity required or increased performance for the end-user PC.
The librarian and library staff will develop a Web site including links to useful legal resource and related materials on the World Wide Web and make this site available internally to the attorneys and staff of the firm. The links will be selected to provide a free resource with which to start legal research or find initial information. All World Wide Web resources will be subsequently checked against either print or, preferably, electronic resources to confirm veracity and for citation purposes.
The library collection will not seek microfiche materials. These materials are generally available through other resources, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Law Library. In the event a microfiche is found to be necessary to the firm’s practice and it is desirous to add it to the collection, it must:
- Not duplicate print or electronic materials already available in the collection;
- Be sufficiently important to justify the cost of the microfiche reader that will be purchased to read the material.
As requested by attorneys, rare or out of print books will be ordered for the collection. In the case of books in these categories that cost more than $100, the book selection will be forwarded to the managing partner for approval prior to the selection being forwarded to the library committee.
The firm librarys collection is developed from selections made by the firm librarians. Any attorney or member of the firms staff may provide input for the purchase of materials. Attorneys will be encouraged to review books in their specialties in order to maintain a focused and current collection. Upon selecting materials, the firm librarian forwards recommendations to the library committee, consisting of the managing partner and an attorney representing each of the firm’s offices. Final decision for purchases is made by the committee, of which the firm librarian is an ex-officio member. Recommendations must be made every two weeks. All subscriptions to electronic resources and serials will be reviewed annually.
Attorneys may select to request or use money outside the library budget to purchase additional copies of books that are in the collection for their personal use. An example of this would be an attorney who buys a personal copy of West’s State and Federal Court Rules. This item will not be considered part of the collection and will be shelved in that attorney’s office.
No gifts will be accepted to the collection unless they are fully compatible with this policy and are given with the understanding that the materials are the property of the firm and may be utilized and disposed of as the firm sees fit. Donations will be accepted only with a signed donation form. See Appendix G.
Library funds will be allocated on a case by case basis with preference given to primary resources (case law, statutes, and regulations applicable to the jurisdictions in which the firm practices) in either print or CD-ROM formats. No less than 75% of the library budget will be spent on primary resources. The remaining 25% of the library budget will be apportioned to those resources that enhance the library’s research mission, including treatises and hornbooks on practice issues including evidence and federal practice and procedure.
The collection will be evaluated following a conspectus approach. The firm librarians will perform a review, no less frequently than once per year, of the firm’s holdings in comparison to those of other local law firms and the related materials available at the University of Wisconsin School of Law library. Additionally, law firm librarians will use the impressionistic method to contribute suggestions and assess the collection based on personal experience.
The collection contains primary materials necessary to conduct the practice of law in the state of Wisconsin and in the Federal courts. Most materials will remain in the collection in perpetuity, subject to updates by the publisher. The firm’s head librarian will conduct an annual review of materials that should not be updated due to newer editions, obsolescence of the substantive area, or better alternatives. The firm’s librarians and designated assistants will maintain the currency of the materials in the collection and will not remove any materials without being directed to do so by the head librarian.
The librarians and the firm’s attorneys and staff will achieve preservation of the collection only through the careful use of the materials. Print materials will be housed in air-conditioned rooms with adequate, permanent shelving. In the event materials are damaged, librarians will attempt to repair them or, in the event they cannot be repaired, acquire a replacement. Every time a replacement is sought, the price of the replacement will be compared with the price of outsourcing repair of the item, if that is possible.
Control and care of electronic materials will be the responsibility of the IT group. Access to these materials will be controlled by the librarians but with the cooperation of the IT group.
The primary focus of the firm’s library collection is the materials required to support the legal research necessary to solve clients’ legal problems. Materials will be added to the collection on this basis alone. Materials will not be censored due to offensive or other criteria. The firm librarians may block additions of items that do not promote the firm’s objectives.
The firm librarians, and all attorneys and firm staff using the firm law library, will abide by the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) position on copyright and the firm’s policy on copyright in general. See Appendix D for the former; see the human resources manual for the latter. In addition, the firm librarians will abide by the AALL Code of Ethics and the AALL Library Bill of Rights. See Appendices B and C respectively.
American Association of Law Libraries Committee on Relations with Information Vendors Web site. [http://www.aallnet.org/committee/criv/]
Daly, Gail M. Law Library Evaluation Standards: How Will We Evaluate the Virtual Library? 45 J. Legal Educ. 61 (1995).
Franklin, Jonathan A. One Piece of the Collection Development Puzzle: Issues in Drafting Format Selection Guidelines. 86 Law Lib. J. 753 (1994).
Meadows, Judith A. Online Research v. Print: And How to Economize Each for Maximum Benefit. 32 Judges J. 3 (1993).
Scarborough, Bill. The Library “Space” Race: One Firm’s Library is Smaller More Useful. 18 Legal Management 18 (1999).
Svengalis, Kendall F. Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual. (Barrington, R.I.: Rhode Island LawPress) 1996.
Tilevitz, Sarah Laidlaw. Reconciling Space and Access Needs in a Small Law Firm Library: A “Modest Proposal”. 88 Law Lib. J. 96 (1996).
Trotta, Victoria K. Using Pathfinders in a Law Firm Library Reference Program. 278 PLI/Pat 501 (1989).
Underwood Law Library collection via SMU PONI online catalog. [http://poni.smu.edu]
Personal experience as library assistant in labor and employment law firm.
AALL Ethical Principles
Approved by the AALL membership, March 1999
Basic Concepts in the Law of Evidence (Audio tape; 1975)
National Institute for Trial Advocacy $110.00
Commentaries on the Laws of England with an Analysis of the work by Blackstone complete in 2 volumes (1841)
Out of print; available from Alibris.com $180.00
Federal Practice and Procedure (CD-ROM)
West Publishing $1,989.00
Labor and Employment Law Library (CD-ROM)
Bureau of National Affairs $nnnn
LOIS Wisconsin Law Library (CD-ROM)
Law Office Information Systems $730.00
LOIS Wisbar (State Bar Association Treatises and Publications) (CD-ROM)
Law Office Information Systems $1,800.00
A Uniform System of Citation: The Bluebook (handbook; 1996; 16th Edition)
Harvard Law Review Association $9.00
United States Code Annotated (multiple volumes; serial)
West Publishing $1,500.00
West Publishing $nnnn
Wisconsin Court Rules and Procedure, State and Federal (print; two volumes)
Two Copies $66.00
Wisconsin Reporter (print; serial)
West Publishing $5,048.25
University of Wisconsin Law Review (serial)
University of Wisconsin Law Review Society $36.00
The project parameters included a $10,000 budget. Due to the cost of the materials for a law library, there were some items that would clearly push the budget above the ceiling set for the project. Once the budget was reached, additional resources that would be required in a law library were not priced.
Each selection is described on the following pages.
I, the undersigned, give to the Macmillan Bulfinch law firm the following items for use in their law firm library:
I understand that these items may be used in whatever manner the firm determines is most appropriate, which may include the sale or discarding of some or all of the items. I understand that I give these items without any expectation of ongoing control of the items.