The School of Law Library

In 1921, George W. Lillard, a Hartford businessman and lawyer, founded the Hartford College of Law. This was a small independent evening school whose mission was to provide legal training for insurance company employees who required legal knowledge. However, these students had to rely on the State Law Library and the Hartford County Bar Library as the College did not have a library of its own.

The College of Law became part of The University of Connecticut in 1943, and the first professional librarian, Margaret Taylor Lane, was appointed in 1944. A three-story former private residence on Woodland Street in Hartford housed the Law Library where the availability of space determined the shelving arrangement and mandated the use of areas such as a second floor cupboard, a basement closet, and an attic. Great strides in developing an organized library occurred during Lane’s tenure, however, as she introduced standard library services and procedures, including a card catalog.

Several other librarians have had important roles in shaping the development of the library. Karl Punzak, whose major responsibility was to develop a legal writing program, was the librarian from 1948 to 1955. Although unable to devote his full attention to the library, he managed to increase the library budget to remedy deficiencies in the collection and to plan a new library wing. The new wing allowed the library to be completely reorganized and books were removed from the twenty-two rooms in which they had been stored to a usable collection. Shirley Bysiewicz, who served as Law Librarian from 1955 to 1983, can be credited with expanding and improving library services, thus increasing the contribution of the library to legal education.

During the early 1960s, due to crowded conditions at the Woodland Street facility, it became necessary to shift the collection constantly, to box many sets that were not heavily used, and to employ classrooms for library seating. 1964 was an important year for the library: in June the library moved from Woodland Street to a new building at 1800 Asylum Avenue in West Hartford; and a $25,000 grant was awarded for collection development. This grant allowed the library to purchase new treatises to fill the gaps in the collection, add duplicate sets of the National Reporter System, and to complete the statutory collection. By 1969, the Law Library had grown to the point that a subject classification was necessary, so the collection was reclassified according to the Library of Congress system.

Professor Bysiewicz left the Law Library in 1983 to devote her full attention to research and teaching as a member of the Law School faculty. Dennis Stone assumed duties as Law Librarian and Associate Professor of Law in July 1983, and immediately faced the task of preparing to move the library to new quarters on Sherman Street in Hartford, a twenty acre campus formerly occupied by the Hartford Seminary. In June 1984, the library collection of approximately 220,000 volumes was moved in eight days by professional library movers. Library service was maintained during the move with material being unavailable to patrons only for the brief time it was in transit from one building to another.

The present library, with its 120 foot tower, is now the architectural as well as the intellectual hub of the new Law School campus and provides a spacious and pleasant facility for research and study. The Law School buildings are Gothic in style and are arranged in a quadrangle. The Library is housed in the former Avery Hall and occupies a wing in a connecting building, Gillette Hall, which also houses editorial offices of the Law Review and campus maintenance.  One of the Library’s interesting architectural features is the series of statutory pieces in the main corridor which represent the stages of bookmaking from the time of carved stone tablets to the twentieth century.  The building is an interesting blend of the past and the present: its main reading room --- with Queen Anne moulded ceiling, window seats, and a fireplace --- is located next to a modern computer center with terminals used for training students in legal research as well as accessing information retrieval databases.

The Library services thirty-eight full-time faculty, approximately thirty-two adjunct faculty, over 650 students, and the general public. Eighteen staff members, including six professional librarians, four of whom also have law degrees, provide library services. Due to the heavy demand for legal information services, the Law Library is open 8 a.m. to midnight seven days a week. Containing approximately 240,000 volumes, including those in various microformats, the collection consists of state reports, reports of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts of the United States, state and federal statutes, and reports and regulations of federal administrative agencies. The Library subscribes to over 3,00 current periodicals, treatises, encyclopedias, digests, citators, loose-leaf services and materials in disciplines related to the legal profession. An extensive international and foreign law collection is conveniently housed in the International Law Room. (The Library was recently awarded a foreign language grant and will be purchasing Puerto Rican legal materials in Spanish.) In addition, the Library maintains a tax Room and Federal Depository operation. Government documents are catalogued and integrated into the collection.

A wide variety of services are available to the Library’s patrons. Utilizing 12 on-line terminals, instruction in computerized legal research systems, such as LEXIS and WESTLAW, is provided by library staff to all law students. An IBM Personal Computer is also available for patron use. With a modem, phone line, and various software, the PC has become a flexible research tool and allows the integration of retrieved data and software, such as word processing. Recently added on-line information retrieval service accessed by the PC include NEXIS, DIALOG, BRS, WILSONLINE, and DOW JONES LINE. A new addition to the Library’s services is computer-assisted instruction. Programs on diskettes are available for various legal subjects.

Among the most important services offered at the Law Library is interlibrary loan. Students and faculty use this service to obtain books and periodicals that are not available in the Library. The Library also serves as a supplier of legal material to all types of libraries throughout the United States. Interlibrary loan transaction have increased greatly during recent years. In fact, the American Bar Association’s statistics for 1983-84 show that the Law Library ranked 18th nationally in interlibrary loan requests filled by law school libraries. The Library is a member of the New England Law Library Consortium which not only facilitates interlibrary loans but also allows participation in cooperative projects with all academic law libraries in New England.

The Law Library presently uses Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) for cataloguing and interlibrary loan functions. The addition last summer of the M300 OCLC workstation has enabled these functions to be performed very efficiently. The M300 is a modified IBM Personal Computer. The Library is now in the process of acquiring the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN) system. While it is similar in purpose to the OCLC system, the RLIN system is specifically designed for research libraries; thus it provides access to all major law school library collections. In addition, it offers the capability of searching by subject, a service the OCLC does not provide. The RLIN system can be used not only as a cataloging system but also as an important tool in providing reference service. The Library will continue to input local holdings into the OCLC system to facilitate interlibrary loans for the University campus as well as for other interlibrary loan borrowers.

Audio visual services are also being expanded. Two video cassette recorder/players and television monitors have recently been purchased. The monitors have recently been purchased. The monitors will be installed in study rooms in Gillett Hall while the players and tapes will be located at the Circulation Desk. Many commercial tapes are being produced in the field of legal education on such topics as legal ethics, trial practice, counseling and negotiation. Video cassette tapes are becoming an important teaching tool; therefore the Library plans to increase both its audio and video tape collection.

All of the present and planned services are consistent both with those offered by other law school libraries and with what is essential to providing adequate support to an excellent legal education program. The University of Connecticut Law School Library strives to carry out service-orientated programs based on a carefully selected, well organized and maintained collection that is conveniently accessible to the general public and the academic and legal communities