I received an email this week advising that there is talk of reducing funding to Ontario’s Law Libraries which could lead to their closure.
When I found myself in a Law Library this morning, preparing for Court, I wondered what impact that would have on me personally.
I use the Library regularly. Whenever I go to Court, however, my use of it is confined to photocopying, using the computer and preparing in a quiet environment.
I have used the “stacks” in the library perhaps once every two years over the past twenty years.
While I was taught how to use the Canadian Abridgement in law school (such a misnomer, was an encyclopedia type system to find cases) Quicklaw and other online legal research was coming to the forefront and by the time I was called to the Bar, the need for hard copies of texts had dwindled significantly.
The cost for online legal information has been reduced drastically as well. Quicklaw and other “premium” services charge a fee, but that fee has come down over the years. Sites such as canlii.org provide much of the same information for free.
In speaking with a Law Librarian today she conceded that most of the calls for research she receives are from older, non-internet savy lawyers. Lawyers who practiced before the internet age.
As with non-legal books, e-publishing is taking off. This has lead to e-libraries for regular books and I suppose ultimately will go that direction for Law Libraries.
I hope they still leave us with a quiet place to prepare for Court though. Lawyer’s Lounges are great for conversation, but not too great to review a Book of Authorities.