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61 program graduates have been or are academic, firm, court and county law library directors.

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Law Librarianship Program - University of Washington


The University of Washington Law Librarianship Program
by Betty Wilkins - June 1985
Revised April 1991


Dr. Arthur S. Beardsley, former head law librarian at the University of Washington School of Law Library, established the first law librarianship course at the University of Washington in 1939. There were a few graduates who earned the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Law Librarianship, after having earned their LLB degrees, in the early 1940's. In 1944 Professor Marian Gould Gallagher (UW School of Law Class of 1937), for whom the UW law library now is named, returned to her alma mater to become head law librarian, as Dr. Beardsley's replacement. Soon thereafter the law librarianship program was reintroduced to the curriculum and in 1948 Betty V. LeBus (UW; JD 1947) became the first of 118 students to receive degrees in Law Librarianship under the Gallagher tutelage. (These 118 students all earned their JD before enrolling in library school.)

In 1953 the degree granted in this course of study was changed from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s degree. "The Law Librarianship program originally was designed for lawyers, and specifically for aspiring academic law librarians. Most of its graduates still go into academic law librarianship, where many become heads of law school libraries and members of law school faculties. Two accrediting agencies, the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools, have adopted, and enforce, specific standards relating to law school libraries--their collections, physical quarters and qualifications of their librarians. The American Bar Association recommends legal or librarianship degrees for law school librarians; the Association of American Law Schools requires both. Under both sets of standards there is an assumption that the head librarian should be capable of participating as a regular member of the faculty, with responsibility for the teaching of legal analysis, research or writing, or optionally, of substantive law courses." (Memo dated September 18, 1978 from Professor William Burke, UW School of Law, to Dean Ernest Gellhorn, UW School of Law, in Master of Law Librarianship Program Review notebook.)

The Law Librarianship program now is designed to prepare lawyers to serve as law librarians in courts, federal and state units of government, legal departments of banks, law firms, associations of legal practitioners, as well as schools of law. In 1953 in the Journal of Legal Education Professor Gallagher humorously described the kind of student sought for her course as "industrious, alert, charming, attentive to detail, refined, imaginative, unafraid of briefing for a judge or getting filthy shifting books, dependable, receptive to taking and following orders, able to direct underlings to inspired heights, incorruptible, sincerely interested, amusing cheerful, imperturbable, diplomatic, and Summa Cum Laude.” “The Law Librarianship Course at the University of Washington,” 5 Journal of Legal Education 537, 539.) Of course every student earning this degree did not possess all of these qualifications but a surprising number of them possess combinations of many of them.

For the program, the basic professional curriculum in law librarianship is augmented by courses that deal specifically with law librarianship. Courses required for the Law Librarianship program include: core courses of the general Master's program Advanced Legal Bibliography, Selection and Processing of Law Library Materials and Law Library Administration. These three law librarianship courses formerly taught by Professor Gallagher and later by Adjunct Professor J. Wesley Cochran now are taught by Professor Penny Hazelton, Law Librarian at the UW since September 1985. Four weeks in the‑final quarter are spent in professional supervised fieldwork in carefully selected law libraries where the staff is equipped and willing to provide an educational experience. Harvard, Columbia, Yale, University of Texas, University of California--Berkeley, and the Library of Congress are a few of the law libraries whose staff have hosted students enrolled in this program. A total of 45 quarter credits is required for the degree, which can be completed in four quarter, beginning with autumn quarter and ending the following summer quarter.
As aptly stated by Dr. Margaret Chisholm, Director of the UW Graduate School of Library and Information Science, "Formidable challenges face the profession of library and information science today. First, information professionals must utilize modern technology, including telecommunications, data processing, videodisks, and microcomputers. This technology is progressing very rapidly and the information specialist must be at the forefront of these developments." (UW Graduate School of Library and Information Science brochure 1984/86.) In order to implement training in new technology the University of Washington has added two faculty members who offer new courses in the area of information management. All currently enrolled students are introduced to this developing technology. Law librarianship students have further advanced study in the use of LEXIS, WESTLAW, and the Western Library Network (formerly Washington Library Network).

The Law Librarianship Program at the University of Washington was small in the initial years, grew some in the middle years and dramatically increased in size during the last 12 or 13 years. The following table reports graduates by five ­year intervals:

Number of Students
1940-45 3
1946-50 2
1951-55 6
1956-60 7
1961-65 9
1966-70 11
1971-75 11
1976-80 27
1981-85 16
1986-90 26
1991-96 48
1997-02 31
2003-08 34
2009-14 57

The influence of this specialized program upon the law librarianship profession is difficult to assess. The parade of graduates to law school, court, bar association, firm and government unit libraries might better be visualized by studying the attached roster of graduates of the program. Few states of the 50 United States have not at one time or another been the business home of a graduate of this program. Professional law librarians in foreign countries are scattered through the list. Australia, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, India, the Philippine Islands and three Canadian provinces now have or have had graduates of this program.

Although many graduates hold head law librarian positions, there is a generous mix of occupants of other positions including technical services, public services as well as assistant and associate law librarians. one sees from the list numerous young librarians working their way through the phases of law librarianship to becoming leaders in this profession. Professor Gallagher's work and influence will stretch well into the next century.

Joint support for the program by the UW Graduate School of Library and Information Science and the UW School of Law has assured the continuation of this 50-year old program.

Please contact us any time with comments or questions at UW Law Librarianship Program



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