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The mission of the Moritz Law Library is to support the teaching, scholarship, research and service needs of the Moritz College of Law faculty, staff and students, specifically, and to serve broadly, the legal information needs of The Ohio State University community, the local bar and residents of Ohio. The library’s mission is accomplished by selecting, maintaining and providing access to library collections and information resources in a variety of formats, participating in the statewide OhioLINK consortium and cooperative agreements with other libraries, conducting legal research and instruction and offering a range of services to patrons using the law library.

The library’s mission as it relates to collection development is the following:

  • Collect, organize and preserve legal resources in a variety of formats, supporting the research, learning and service needs of the Moritz College of Law and the larger University community.
  • Collaborate with our partners in the University Libraries, OhioLINK and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) to acquire library materials and share resources as appropriate.
  • Maintain, preserve and provide access to library collections and resources.

The law library was formed in December 1891 when the law collection of a local attorney and judge, the Honorable Henry C. Noble, was donated to the University after his death by his widow. Over the years, the library has grown from a collection of 3,500 volumes at the turn of the 20th century to over 750,000 volumes or volume equivalents and electronic resources, making it the largest law library in Ohio and one of the largest in the country.

The law library has occupied its current location in Drinko Hall since 1992 when a substantial addition to the law building was opened. The law library, with other campus libraries, also has access to materials housed in a shared, off-site storage facility. In 1998, the law library was named after distinguished College of Law alumnus, Michael E. Moritz, ’61.

The Moritz Law Library, together with all the Ohio State University libraries, has been a member since 1994 of the state-wide OhioLINK consortium, established to create a shared catalog, expand access to electronic resources and promote interlibrary lending among academic institutions in Ohio. The law library also participates in the CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the “Big Ten” plus University of Chicago libraries) lending agreements and has also been a member, since 1984, of the Federal Depository Library Program.

The Moritz Law Library’s current collection development policy reflects a growing shift in focus favoring electronic access to information, whenever feasible, over print and other formats. Library collections of print, microform and audiovisual materials will continue to be maintained, but will be developed more selectively in order to reduce or avoid unnecessary duplication with online information. Legal periodicals, journals and other subscriptions will be acquired in electronic format whenever possible. Monographs and treatises will continue to be acquired in print for the permanent collection, but the library will increasingly seek to license, through subscription or purchase, access to ebooks and online treatises that are available to both campus and remote users. Emerging trends within the field of legal publishing, increasing costs and rapid changes in technology and methods of disseminating information are influencing the growing shift away from predominantly print collections. The library will strive to balance continuing patron needs for print materials with the efficiencies and ease of access of online resources that may be easily made available to patrons regardless of physical location.

The Moritz Law Library collects materials in a wide range of legal and related, interdisciplinary subject areas. The library seeks to maintain a broad collection covering all major, Anglo-American legal subject areas as well as selected foreign jurisdictions and international materials. The depth of coverage for particular subject areas varies depending upon the research interests of the faculty and the curricular needs of the Moritz College of Law. Specific areas of focus for the collection include, but are not limited to, alternative dispute resolution, criminal law and procedure, disability law, election law, environmental law, juvenile law, and materials in support of Moritz College programs and centers.j

The paramount criteria for selecting, cancelling or withdrawing any materials are support of current and foreseeable faculty and student research and curricular needs. Within these broad criteria, other considerations used in evaluating prospective purchases, cancellations or withdrawals include the following:

  • Authority of the work, including the author’s reputation in the subject field and the work’s overall scholarly or pedagogical value.
  • Availability of material through OSU campus libraries, OhioLINK or another source.
  • Availability of material in other formats, avoiding duplication whenever possible. An exception will be made for microforms acquired for preservation, which may duplicate content available in print.
  • Language of the material. English language materials are preferred with few exceptions, i.e., non-English materials will be purchased selectively.
  • Format of the material. Materials in a variety of formats (e.g., print, electronic, microform, audio-visual) will be selected.  Format preferences vary depending upon the audience and anticipated use of the material, cost, access and preservation of the material.  Electronic access is preferred for serials and continuations. Monographs and treatises may be acquired in both print and ebook formats to meet patron needs, depending upon the vendor, pricing, permanence and ease of access. The library purchases microforms selectively, primarily for preservation purposes. Audio-visual materials are acquired selectively to meet curricular needs or current, specific interests.
  • Cost of material, including initial price as well as additional costs for processing, updates or maintenance.
  • Value to the permanent collection in addition to immediate needs for the material.
  • Physical space considerations.
  • Specific law faculty or other special requests.

Multiple copies of print titles:  The Moritz Law Library will purchase multiple copies of a single monograph title only in exceptional cases to meet particular needs based on faculty or student use.

Withdrawal of print or non-print materials:  The Moritz Law Library will selectively withdraw print titles that are in poor condition and cannot be replaced or repaired.  Duplicate copies of materials may also be withdrawn.  Audiovisual materials in older formats will be replaced, reformatted or withdrawn as required.

1. Federal Materials

Primary Sources: The library will maintain a comprehensive collection of federal, primary legal source material including access to official versions of U.S. statutory materials, federal case decisions, and federal administrative regulations. The collection will include both electronic and print resources, that through ownership or reliable access, effectively support the curricular, scholarly, research and service needs of the College.

Secondary Sources: A broad range of secondary resources in legal and related interdisciplinary fields, including treatises, journals and periodicals, reference materials and finding aids will be maintained to support teaching, research and scholarship relating to U.S. law. The collection will include both electronic and print resources, that through ownership or reliable access, effectively support the curricular, scholarly, research and service needs of the College.

2. State Materials, U.S. Territories and Tribal Law Jurisdictions:

Ohio: The library will maintain a comprehensive collection of all Ohio primary legal source material including official, annotated versions of Ohio state codes, session laws, official court reports, administrative codes, attorney generals’ opinions and agency regulations, etc. A broad range of secondary resources will be maintained to support Ohio legal research including practice-oriented materials such as treatises, loose-leafs, form books, CLE materials and other materials relating to experiential learning and practice. Multiple print copies will be acquired only as necessary to meet user demand. The collection will include both electronic and print resources, that through ownership or reliable access, effectively support the curricular, scholarly, research and service needs of the College.

Other States, U.S. Territories and Tribal Law Jurisdictions: The library will maintain a collection of major, state primary and secondary legal resources for states other than Ohio, including U.S. territories and tribal law jurisdictions. This collection will rely predominantly on electronic databases to provide access to current, primary state, territorial and tribal law materials. Print collections of primary legal source material for states outside of Ohio will be maintained selectively, based on availability of online information as well as any cooperative agreements with other law libraries for sharing resources (e.g., interlibrary lending agreements). Secondary resources, including monographs, periodicals, reference materials and finding aids, will be acquired selectively to support legal research in states other than Ohio. Practice-oriented materials for states outside Ohio will be acquired only on a limited basis. The collection will include both electronic and print resources, that through ownership or reliable access, effectively support the curricular, scholarly, research and service needs of the College.

3. Foreign and International Materials

The library will maintain a collection of primary and secondary source materials covering the major common law, civil law, and multinational jurisdictions (e.g. the European Union). Primary source materials for British and Commonwealth countries, including statutes, case law, digests and materials of historical importance will be made available, chiefly through electronic databases. Primary materials for other foreign law jurisdictions will be available through online databases. Secondary sources for British and Commonwealth countries and other foreign jurisdictions will be acquired selectively, depending upon the research interests of the faculty. Publications of international organizations and tribunals will also be acquired selectively. Jurisdictional areas of particular focus include, but are not limited to, the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The collection will include both electronic and print resources that, through ownership or reliable access, effectively support the curricular, scholarly, research and service needs of the College.

Specific categories of materials are acquired selectively to enhance the collection, including casebooks, study aids, legal fiction, gifts, government documents, loose leafs, practitioner materials, rare and out of print materials, and replacement copies.

1. Casebooks and Student Study Aids

Casebooks will be purchased on a limited basis, or in the following circumstances: 1.) Moritz faculty author, 2.) faculty request, or 3.) casebook is particularly authoritative, or covers an area of law not otherwise addressed fully. Student study aids such as West’s Nutshell print series and online study aids will also be acquired. Generally, the library will not acquire commercial outline series.

2. Legal Fiction

Works of legal fiction concerning issues of significance to the curriculum or research, or with lawyers and the practice of law will be acquired selectively for popular reading. The library also selectively purchases fiction written by lawyers, judges and legal scholars even though the subject matter lies outside the usual scope of the library’s collection. In addition, the library selectively acquires DVDs of popular movies and television series of legal interest.

3. Gifts

The law library accepts gifts of legal and law-related books from faculty, alumni and members of the public.  Decisions on whether to add gifts to the collection are based on need and according to the same selection criteria outlined above. The library has an arrangement with Better World Books to donate unwanted books to non-profit literacy organizations around the globe.

4. Government Documents

The Moritz Law Library is a selective U.S. Government Printing Office depository, focusing on primary and major secondary legal titles. These publications include administrative decisions and annual reports of agencies and inspector generals, commission reports, pertinent judicial branch and Department of Justice publications and relevant statistical materials.

In addition to U.S. federal documents, the Moritz Law Library selectively acquires titles issued by state and municipal governments.  For the state of Ohio, the library participates in the state’s depository program to acquire important legislative documents such as the Laws of Ohio and Ohio House and Senate journals.

5. Loose Leaf Material

Standard loose leaf services will be maintained only if there is sufficient faculty or student interest and the content is unique or not readily available from other sources. Due to the long-term costs of updating and the increasing availability of online content, the library seeks to reduce subscriptions to loose leafs and will acquire and maintain these services only in exceptional circumstances.

6. Practitioner Material

The library broadly acquires material dealing with the practice of law in Ohio and, on a more selective basis, material covering federal practice. In addition, the library purchases “self-help” titles to provide resources for patrons who are not lawyers. In consultation with the faculty, the library will purchase practitioner-oriented, audio-visual material prepared in areas of curricular interest, e.g. trial practice or mediation. Generally, the law library does not collect practitioner works for jurisdictions other than Ohio.

7. Rare and Out of Print Books

The library selectively acquires rare legal treatises (defined as pre-1850 for US imprints and pre-1820 for foreign imprints) or other materials including manuscripts to augment the existing rare books collection including the Stotter collection pertaining to women and domestic law. Current acquisitions of rare or antiquarian materials are focused on Ohio and the Northwest Territory, criminal law, election law, family law, and women and the law.

Out of print titles are acquired selectively, to replace missing volumes or to enhance the collection. Reprints of historical publications are also acquired selectively, particularly if titles are not available in online databases.

8. Replacement Copies

Lost or damaged print materials will be replaced on a case-by-case basis, according to market availability, anticipated demand and cost of replacement.

The library collects materials in multiple formats (e.g., electronic, print, microform, audio-visual). Non-print formats must conform to current standards for technology support and access. Format decisions are based on a variety of considerations including patrons’ needs for: 1.) ease of access, 2.) availability and coverage, 3.) currency of information, and 4.) permanency of access. While the library increasingly seeks to reduce duplication of content across multiple formats, certain types of materials (notably legal monographs and treatises) may be acquired in multiple formats as necessary to insure ease of access and preservation of content. Formats acquired by the Moritz Law Library include:

1. Electronic Resources

The library maintains license agreements for a variety of electronic resources of value to Moritz College faculty and students on its own, or in cooperation with other OSU libraries, or through consortia such as OhioLINK. The decision to acquire a license for an electronic product is based on the same criteria as for the acquisition of print and other formats.  Preference is given to providing access to the entire OSU campus via IP address or user authentication rather than by password.  Based on the resource provider and whenever financially feasible, the library will purchase or acquire perpetual access to resources.

The Moritz Law Library will seek to license resources giving access to all authorized OSU faculty, staff and students. However, due to licensing and financial restrictions, in a few cases the library will seek to limit access (via password) to certain resources that cannot be made available to users widely outside the Moritz College of Law.

2. Print

The library will continue to maintain an extensive collection of monographs and other print resources in legal and related, interdisciplinary subject areas for circulation to patrons through the shared OSU and OhioLINK catalogs. Whenever available, cloth binding is preferred over paper because of its durability.

3. Microform

Microforms provide a means of augmenting the collection, particularly for preserving historical or archival content for certain materials. Generally, electronic access is preferred over microforms for resources that may be available in both formats.

4. Audio-Visual Material

Audio-visual material is acquired to support areas of curricular interest or practitioner-oriented skills training (e.g., trial practice or mediation). Audio study aids, such as Sum and Substance reviews, in a variety of subject areas are purchased. Documentary films as well as popular, dramatic films or television series pertaining to legal or criminal justice themes are purchased for the collection. Only formats that are widely supported by current technology will be acquired.

The law librarians, in consultation with the faculty, develop and maintain the collection of the Moritz Law Library. Librarians may participate directly in selection of resources, or assist in reviewing new titles to recommend prospective purchases for the collection. Reference librarians are assigned as faculty liaisons to help identify and facilitate faculty requests for new acquisitions or licensed resources for the library. The law library uses a variety of methods to acquire new titles and maintain subscriptions. New monographs are acquired chiefly through a comprehensive approval plan with Yankee Book Peddler (YBP) which covers U.S., foreign and international legal titles in addition to interdisciplinary works in a wide range of areas such as political science, philosophy, economics and history.  In addition, the law library maintains standing orders with vendors for certain publications and participates in the ABA package plan to receive a wide range of legal publications. Subscriptions are maintained either through publishers or serial agents in order to expedite renewals and claiming.

Collection development responsibilities may vary over time, but all the librarians have some involvement in selection or cancellation decisions, in consultation with the faculty and the director of the law library. In addition to an established approval plan for monographs, standing orders for series, or package plans that allow materials to be acquired automatically, librarians monitor the availability of new publications through publishers’ catalogs, vendor reports including emailed subject alerts, and Hein’s “green slip” email service. The librarians meet regularly to discuss collection development issues, including major purchases, the licensing of electronic databases and other online resources and the cancellation or withdrawal of significant publications.