Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Law Librarianship c. 1980

This is a follow-up the earlier post about the 25th anniversary of the Toronto Association of Law Libraries (TALL).

An article in the TALL special anniversary newsletter by Michele Miles, TALL President 1985-86, is a good reminder of how much things have changed (or not) over the lifetime of the association.

According to Miles, in 1980:

  • law librarians spent a lot of time on the phone "coaxing reluctant bureaucrats to cough up government documents"
  • libraries had to have deposit accounts with government publishers
  • they had to send articling students to line up to purchase a copy of the Federal Budget for tax lawyers
  • law firms were local so interoffice communications were uncommon
  • periodical indexes were all in paper
  • cataloguing was done on a "p-slip" (a what???) and cards were typed
  • micro-fiche was high tech
  • dial-up terminals to connect to the new Quicklaw service ran at 300 baud
What has changed? Miles writes that more of our time is spent "learning modes of access for electronic sources, legal and non-legal, rather than (...) understanding better the subject matter with which we are dealing. We have also taken on the added role of a bridge between the world of the legal researcher and that of the systems folks through troubleshooting, training and the development of Intranet tools. Our role has become more that of a facilitator and somewhat less that of a researcher."

But some things never change, according to her.

Librarians continue to depend on each other for interlibrary loans, advice and moral support.

And students still get stumped by the structure of the Canadian Abridgment...


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:25 pm


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