Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Law libraries are undergoing rapid change brought about by the electronic information revolution. Consequently, as Professor Roy Mersky points out in his introduction to this volume, the work of law librarianship has become “as exciting as it is challenging”. Yet textbooks in this area are few and dated. Professor Vicki Gregory, in her foreword, regrets that “law librarianship has been treated as a step child”. Thus this is a timely publication explaining the state of the art and discussing issues with which this discipline is confronted.
This handy monograph has been divided into ten chapters by authorities in the field. There are 12 contributors, including the editors who have also authored some chapters individually. They are all experienced and hold high positions in the administration and teaching of law librarianship. The first chapter enshrines the history of law libraries in the USA in the institutional framework of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). The second chapter gives an all round brief on the day‐to‐day tasks in a law library. The next chapter offers tips on staff management, budget, services, and public services, such as circulation and information services, and explains other multiple tasks of a law library director. A detailed chapter on collection development, licensing and acquisition discusses procedures and offers advice on signing the right type of licensing agreement. Not to be ignored are the processes of cataloguing, indexing, classification, though these are not law‐specific. The eighth chapter on technology trends in law libraries offers some home truths on the acquisition and use of information technology, especially with reference to the work of the Computing Services Special Interest Section (CS‐SIS) of the AALL. The chapter on “Foreign, Comparative and International Librarianship” details the nature of work and opportunities in the field. A most valuable chapter is on the history, types and sources of US official documents, along with their chronology (1777‐2006). The book closes with a study of library consortia, especially the consortium of consortia, their evolution, role and various model of their administration.
Most of the chapters are comprehensive and specific to the area of law librarianship and legal information access. Yet some chapters are general enough in nature to benefit any student or practitioner of modern librarianship. Indeed some chapters overlap in content in their endeavour to be comprehensive. Nevertheless, it is a reasonable textbook aimed at courses in law librarianship – which provides practical answers to questions challenging the profession. Though every chapter is appended with references and copious notes, a consolidated bibliography along with a brief glossary of terms specific to law librarianship would have been valuable appendices.
The book is full of advice, case studies and tips which make the text eminently readable. It is a worthy addition to the literature of law librarianship and legal information.