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Law libraries enter the 21st century

Law libraries are thriving throughout the country, due in part to the information age. One has only to type the words “law library” into an Internet search engine to get 20 pages of online libraries full of information.

These online libraries are as diverse as America. The largest online collection is at the Library of Congress, which allows users to access its law library. The collection has approximately 2.65 million volumes, making it the largest legal collection in the world with its inclusion of primary and secondary sources.

However, only certain collections are available online. They currently include the Human Rights Library; Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties; and the Thomas Collection.

The Thomas Collection includes bill summaries; resolutions and activities of Congress; congressional records; schedules; calendars; committee information; Presidential nominations; treaties; and government resources. The library can be contacted by telephone or via e-mail.

While the Library of Congress may be the most well known of the online law libraries, it isn’t the only one. Most law schools in this country have online resources available to law students. With few exceptions, these online sources normally require individuals to be _students of the university in order to access their databases.

Some free online law libraries are available to the public. Most have searchable databases and information.

However, if one longs to search among the bound and unbound stacks here in Vermont, the Vermont Law School’s Julien and Virginia Cornell Law Library in Norwich is available. The library is said to have one of the finest collections of environmental law material in the nation.

Director Carl Yirka said that is because the collection is handled. “We have a unique environmental law collection, even though Harvard may have the same books, but they would be at libraries all over their campus,” said Yirka.

“They use the Library of Congress system; this is an a-z system. But, there was no place for environmental law in the classification scheme. So those books would be listed under biology.

“We pulled all of our environmental law books and put them on the top floor of our library,” he said. “That way, they are in a central location, making it easier for law students to find books.”

Anyone can use the law library at Vermont Law School. However, there are some databases that can only be accessed by faculty and students; users are required to hold a license to practice law. ?

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