Have We Passed the Golden Age of Law Libraries?

A Foreword to Barbara Bintliff’s Call to Action at SWALL 2019 (Little Rock, AR)
Submitted By Cassie DuBay

At SWALL’s 2019 Annual Meeting, Barbara Bintliff, Director of the University of Texas at Austin Tarlton Law Library, delivered a provoking and memorable call to action—by Zoom presentation no less. Undeterred by weather and cancelled flights, Bintliff embodied precisely the energy and inspiration she called for in her presentation. At her start, Bintliff asked us “Have we passed the Golden Age of law libraries?”

Through historical review, Bintliff recalled law libraries’ initial purpose: to enable legal research and its practice. Though, she also reminded us that law libraries have regularly seen ups and downs. In her message, Bintliff explained how law libraries, once the laboratories of legal practice, suddenly became a sideline resource during the evolution of legal education. Law librarian professionals experienced declining status while doctrinal law professors achieved faculty status.

But ever the resilient, Bintliff reminded us that law librarians always persevere. Our predecessors sought formal education in both library science and the law through sheer self-respect and certainty about the importance of our work. Law librarians began offering advanced legal research, technology training, and embraced the call to prepare students to practice.

“Ever the survivors!” Bintliff hailed, librarians are experts, key players, pioneers, and innovators. Authoritative organizations like the ABA now explicitly identify legal research as essential to experiential legal education. So, Bintliff asked, “Is this the Golden Age?” More so, what would a Golden Age look like? Can we put our heads together and capitalize on this energy? Will we join Barbara Bintiff and start a movement towards a Golden Age?

Watch Barbara’s Call to Action Below:

One thought on “Have We Passed the Golden Age of Law Libraries?

  1. Pingback: Volume 42, Issue 3 (Post-Conference Edition) Table of Contents | SWALL Bulletin

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