University of Michigan. Law Library

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For a historical note on the Law Library see the finding aid for law Library (University of Michigan) Records.

From the guide to the Law Library (University of Michigan) publications, 1967-1989, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

The Law School of the University of Michigan was founded in October 1859. Earlier in April, the Regents appropriated $2,000 for the establishment of a law library. In addition, in October 1859, Judge Thomas M. Cooley of Detroit donated 350 volumes to the library. These volumes formed the basis of the library's collection. During the 19th century the Law Library received three major gifts; one from Judge Richard Fletcher of Boston in 1866 of 800 volumes, and two others from Detroit businessman Christian H. Buhl. In 1886 Buhl donated his personal library of over 5,000 volumes to the Law Library. This increased the size of the collection to nearly 10,000 volumes. In 1894 Buhl gave the library $10,000. With this bequest the library was able to increase substantially the scope of its collection.

Originally the collection consisted mainly of reports from Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and some New England states. The early focus of the library's collection was judicial decisions rather than acts of legislatures. However, in 1886, the library began a campaign to obtain statutes from all states in the Union. The money received from the Buhl bequest also helped the library to purchase and develop a section on foreign law. Up to that time the library held volumes relating only to American and English law. Throughout the early 20th century, acquisition of materials concerning foreign law and international law gave the library one of the best collections in the United States.

The first three law librarians, Isaac Marston, Levi L. Barbour, and William R. Day, were all students in the Law School. Joseph H. Vance served as the first full-time librarian from 1883 to 1899. In 1899, Judge Victor Lane became the law librarian and presided over a collection of roughly 18,000 volumes. He did not oversee the administrative duties of the library, but rather concentrated on teaching, research, and collection development. The day-to-day activities of the library were the responsibilities of his assistant librarians: Gertrude Woodard (1901-1915), Elizabeth Steere (1915-1918), Blanche Harroun (1918-1924), and Rebecca Wilson (1924-1927). These women, led by Woodard, brought the collection under organizational control through the use of modern library principles and practices. Professor Hobart R. Coffey succeeded Judge Lane as law librarian, a position he held from 1926 to 1966. By 1937 the library contained 133,000 volumes. Professor Coffey's assistant librarian, Esther Betz, worked at the library from 1927 to 1963. Professor Beverly Pooley became the law librarian in 1965, a position he held until 1985. From 1985 until 1995 Pooley served as associate dean of the Law Library. Margaret Leary has been the director of the library since 1985.

The Law Library was first located in the south wing of University Hall and then moved to the Law Building in 1863. The library moved to its present location, the William W. Cook Legal Research Building, in 1931. After much debate, the library underwent major renovation in 1980 to expand into the area underneath the Legal Research Building. The award-winning underground addition to the Law Library was designed by architect Gunnar Birkerts. In 1986 the library was officially designated as the Allen F. and Alene Smith Law Library. As of 1999, the Law Library held 750,000 volumes.

Current information on the Law Library is available on the World Wide Web at the following URL: http://www.law.umich.edu/library/

From the guide to the Law Library (University of Michigan) Records, 1898-1990, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Rudolph H. Gjelsness papers, 1919-1968 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf University of Michigan. Law Library. Law Library (University of Michigan) sound recording series. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Photo and Campus Services (University of Michigan), 1960-1987, 1969-1970, 1980-1984 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Gunnar Birkerts and Associates records, 1960-2005 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf University of Michigan. Law Library. Law Library (University of Michigan) records, 1919-1989. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Law School (University of Michigan) records, 1852-1999, 2010 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn University of Michigan. Photo and Campus Services. Photo and Campus Services (University of Michigan) photographs. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf University of Michigan. Law Library. Law Library (University of Michigan) records, 1898-1990. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Gunnar Birkerts & Associates. Gunnar Birkerts and Associates records, 1960-1999. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Law Library (University of Michigan) publications, 1967-1989 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf University of Michigan. Law Library. Law Library (University of Michigan) records, 1898-1990. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Law Library (University of Michigan) Records, 1898-1990 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Theodore Wesley Koch Papers, 1894-1941 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Michigan--Ann Arbor
Michigan--Ann Arbor
Subject
Law
William Warner Bishop lectureship series
William W. Cook Foundation lectures
Thomas M. Cooley lectures
Cooperative societies
Libraries
Libraries--Michigan--Ann Arbor
Cooperative societies--Michigan--Ann Arbor
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Active 1898

Active 1990

Information

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