Monday, May 16, 2011

Congratulations to the University of Michigan Law Librarians

It is always gratifying to see the librarians highlighted in a law school alumni publication. Over the weekend, I read a laudatory article in the Spring 2011 Law Quadrangle: Notes from Michigan Law. The article, entitled "Whither the Law Librarian," will not be news to any law librarian. It portrays four dual-degree librarians who work at the University of Michigan Law Library as "helping to advance digital research rather than hinder it." The librarians interviewed point out that being a librarian has always been about managing information--finding it and using it--and for this reason, format is simply not that important. The article concludes with the often-repeated statement that "technology has flooded researchers with so much information that, now more than ever, they need a guide to help them navigate the chaos." This is probably true, but I wonder if students today actually believe it.

The piece includes a nice one-page spread featuring Jerry Dupont, a 1967 alumnus of Michigan Law, and the Haiti Legal Patrimony Project, which was undertaken by LLMC in the wake of last year's devastation. Haiti's libraries were not spared, and the country risked the loss of its legal heritage. The Law Quadrangle describes Dupont's efforts to collect over 700 books and documents in "a huge bibliographic project." Items were identified and located in libraries around the world, and are now being scanned to create "a massive digital record ... that combines the strengths of the various collections" from which it came. Margaret Leary, Director of the Michigan Law Library, which provided about ten per cent of the materials being digitized, has the last word about the Haiti Project: "This project is an excellent example of the way collection development policies result in the whole being much greater than any one library."

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