A Novel Response How Law Libraries Adapted to the Pandemic, 0921 COBJ, Vol. 50, No. 8 Pg. 6

PositionVol. 50, 8 [Page 6]

50 Colo.Law. 6

A Novel Response: How Law Libraries Adapted to the Pandemic

Vol. 50, No. 8 [Page 6]

Colorado Lawyer

September, 2021

August, 2021



Law libraries are considered by many to be temples of legal knowledge. Housed within their hallowed halls are volumes of books (statutes, treatises, etc.), and stored within their computers and servers are applications and software providing access to legal research databases, digital books, and so much more. Colorado has just a handful of public, private, and specialized law libraries to support its attorneys across the state. Among the most prominent are the Colorado Supreme Court Law Library, Tenth Circuit Law Library, Westminster Law Library at the University of Denver, William A. Wise Law Library at the University of Colorado, and National Indian Law Library. When the novel coronavirus emerged in March 2020, these libraries had to quickly develop new ways to make legal resources available to attorneys. The pandemic ushered in new modalities of work and human interaction that have changed the way reference support is being provided in law libraries today, and likely for many years to come.

With Time, All Things Change

Thanks to the proliferation of information on the Internet, attorneys have instant access to just about any legal resource—provided they can pay for it. Fortunately, law libraries have become the great equalizer in this world of pay-to-play legal research, offering coundess resources from diverse vendors in one convenient location and at no cost to the public. Of course, some services surrounding the resources, such as printing, copying, and the like, still cost money. Regardless, public and specialized law libraries provide access to legal resources and scholarship diat would otherwise be too expensive for many to purchase. This access may be provided to everyone from attorneys at large firms to pro se litigants.1

However, 2020 presented a novel problem for law libraries: how to provide basic institutional functions during a time when most people were not allowed to gather in public places. In response to various shelter-in-place orders, guidelines, and government directions, law libraries had to develop methods to continue assisting patrons who could no longer enter the physical brick and mortar building.

Change Takes Time

Just like any other business, law libraries need time to implement change within their organizations. In this instance, change needed to be fast and effective. Thankfully, law libraries were poised for new modalities of patron interaction.

Historically, law libraries were quiet places with rows and rows of books. However, for a long while now, law libraries have embraced the enhancements that came along with the digital revolution. When statutes and legal drafting tools came on CD-ROMs, law libraries...

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