Offbeat Law Library Collections

Cameo Word Up LP coverThis year’s CALI Conference for Law School Computing was hosted at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in their beautiful new downtown facility located in the shadow of San Diego’s Gaslamp quarter.  The building still had that new, technology-rich, Leeds-certified smell about it. Everything in the facility was brand spanking new…save a pair of 300-thousand year old wooly mammoth tusks that were on display in the law library. The school had unwittingly unearthed the fossils when excavating for the new building and they did what everyone does when they do not know what to do with something:  give it to the law library.

This got me thinking of what other unusual items have by chance or device found themselves part of a law library or its collection. Below is the fruit of my first search. I am sure there is more to be unearthed.

  • I am equally perplexed by and envious of Cornell Law Library’s squash court.  Yes, that is right. There is a squash court in the Cornell Law Library.  Struggling with Georgia legislative history (or the lack thereof)? Well blow off some steam and play a quick game of squash.  After hitting a few trickle boasts, you will be ready to face that legislative history research again.
  • My personal favorite, being a child of the 80’s, is the platinum album of Cameo’s Word Up that is on display at University of Tennessee Joel A. Katz Law Library. The Library’s namesake is a successful entertainment lawyer that has represented Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett and Michael Jackson among others. He has donated a number of his platinum plated awards to the law library but it is the image of Larry Blackmon in a codpiece—which in his defense seemed to make perfect sense back in the 80’s—on the walls of a law library that just makes me smile.
  • Finally, Yale has added bobbleheads to the Lillian Goldman Law Library rare book collection. Likeness of the Supreme Court justices in bobblehead form are now given similar historical attention to those commonplace gilt vellum bound manuscripts that litter the rare book collection.  Their Rare Books Blog is actually quite fascinating and worth a read.

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