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Law Librarians

History

As long as there have been lawyers, barristers, solicitors and the like, there have undoubtedly been collections of legal materials large or small—the precursors to law libraries of today. In the United States, the Library of Congress was established in 1800, essentially as a collection of, although not limited to, law books and other materials to aid Congress. During the next few decades, the desire to have the law books and materials housed separately from the rest of the collection gained support. Finally, in 1832, Congress ordered that the law books of the Library of Congress be separated from its general collection, thus establishing the Law Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress was not the only entity to see the benefits of having its own private library specializing in the legal materials they needed to do their jobs; other government agencies, businesses, and law firms also maintained such collections, and law libraries have became more prevalent.

Today’s law libraries house more than law books. Their holdings include legal periodicals and documents, and, in recent years, have grown to incorporate such technological advances as digital reference material and online databases.