Extreme Makeover: Law Library Edition

Written by Margaret L. Christiansen, Associate Director, Law Library

Put together one hard-to-get-to Law Library much in need of a facelift, a long list of student concerns about space issues, and 15 very determined librarians and staff, and what do you get? An awesome new Law Library space.

Law Library entrance
Law Library entrance
This summer, the Law Library closed its doors for the better part of four months. Strange noises could be heard drifting down into the second floor library stacks: the groan and creak of moving shelving units, the ‘slam! thump!’ of books coming on and off of library carts, ‘slap! thud!’ as glue was spread and new carpet was laid, and sighs of relief and sounds of celebration as goals were achieved along the way. Thus was Phase I of the law library remodel project accomplished.

The new design features a stunning new entrance (by elevator or staircase) through the University Library. …yes, you heard it right, all Law Library access is now through the University Library! If you haven’t yet, you simply must experience the walk up the stairs from the second floor library space.

The opening of the stairwell in turn facilitates the advent of two other significant new features, the opening up of the third floor balcony from both sides and the creation of a unified service desk, a one-stop point of access for all law library services, central to all study areas.

Law Reference Desk
Law Reference Desk

Two Libraries, One Space

Though the University and Law libraries remain administratively separate and report to different deans, patrons engaged in cross-disciplinary studies, or those seeking a more conducive study environment may travel freely between libraries and check out books at either desk. Though Law Library carrels may be reserved by law students only, table spaces remain available for the use of all patrons.

Quiet signThe Law Library is divided into two sides, with two study environments. The Quiet, Individual Study Side (see map below) contains the carrels, some comfortable seating, law periodicals and the general law collection. Conversation and noise producing devices are strictly limited in this area. The Conversational, Group Study Side houses the primary U.S. and state legal source materials, and is dotted with tables ideal for individual or group study. Conversation moderate in volume and tone is permitted here; more vigorous conversation should be held on the balcony or in a study room.

More to Come: PHASE II

So with all this accomplished, what’s left to look forward to? Phase II, that’s what. As funding becomes available, plans are in place to further enhance the law library study environment in the following ways:

  • Upgrade library seating with fully ergonomic models.
  • Widen carrels to better accommodate both books and laptops.
  • Create a number of individual study rooms in addition to the present group study rooms.
  • Build an environmentally controlled special collections room to better protect and feature Law Library special collections, with a grand reading room to contain additional carrels and tables for study space.