Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New York County Lawyers Association Guided Library Tour

New York Librarians MeetUp October 27, 2009

New York County Lawyers Association

The New York County Lawyers Association, one of the largest bar associations in the country with 10,000 members, was founded in 1908 as a response to the restrictive membership rules of other state and local bar associations. Interested in legal and public policy questions, it is open to all members of the New York Bar. For a more detailed description of the Association, see its website: http://www.nycla.org/.

The NYCLA library, with about 230,000 volumes, expects to serve 12,750 patrons in 2009 both in the physical library and fee based services such as copying and legal research. About 45% of NYCLA’s budget is appropriated to the library. The library has 6 professional librarians on staff.

Dan Jordan, the Director of Library Services, provided a tour of the library which encompassed an introduction to legal bibliography and research. As he explained the development of legal bibliography and the basics of legal research, he showed us the physical books, not just the shelves, but what the books looked like inside. We also visited the basement where the superseded volumes required for research are stored. As in most libraries, legal materials are moving online and people (depending on when they graduated from law school) are using books less. So NYCLA deals with the question of what to keep in physical form and what to discard.

I had briefly worked at the NYCLA library when I worked for Cassidy Cataloguing in the early 1990’s. As a law librarian for more than 25 years, I was familiar with legal bibliography and research. Still, I enjoyed the tour very much. This meetup was an excellent introduction to legal bibliography, legal research and the workings of a subscription library.

Caren Rabinowitz, JD, MLS
Assistant Organizer, NY Librarians Meetup

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