The University of California, Berkeley Law Library is the heartbeat of intellectual activity in the Law School, where students and faculty come together to share in the use of the Library’s collections and services and engage in legal research and scholarship. Since 1894 it has evolved from a modest collection of several hundred books housed in a few dusty alcoves in a basement on campus, to its current status as a world-class center for legal scholarship and research with close to 875,000 volumes and volume equivalents. The Law Library’s collection is rich in legal history and common law material and through the Robbins endowment has one of the finest collections of comparative law, international and human rights law and civil law in the world. The Law Library also is home to the world-renowned Robbins Collection of rare books and manuscripts in civil and religious law. Students, faculty and scholars from all over the world come to the Law Library and Robbins Collection to conduct research and engage in legal scholarship.
While online research is replacing traditional book research in many areas of law practice, the vast body of legal scholarship still remains primarily in print format. Many of the more practitioner-oriented law schools have chosen to forgo or greatly reduce historical and modern print collections in favor of online or micro-formats. The Law Library at UC Berkeley, however, remains deeply committed to maintaining and expanding its print collections, while at the same time providing full access to the latest online databases. It is crucial that a small number of great research libraries maintain print collections so that scholars will be able to study the history and development of law. The reality is that only a tiny fraction of legal scholarship is available in electronic format and it will be many years, if ever, before significant portions of these materials can be converted to electronic format. Even if they are converted, much will be lost in the transformation. Law libraries such as Berkeley’s insure that both current and future scholars will have the materials they need to understand legal development.
The Law Library is also a true research center, where faculty, students and scholars can work closely with some of the most experienced and knowledgeable law librarians in the United States. The law librarians provide a wide range of services to students and scholars, including in-depth assistance with foreign and international law research, historical and cross-disciplinary research.