lawlibrary Libraries

40 Years! Things have changed since my first day in the law library.

When I started here in the Law Library, 40 years ago today, I was just starting the University of Maryland’s Master of Library Science program. My technology or equipment consisted of an electric typewriter, a rotary phone that didn’t even have a hold button and a copier.

I had a lot to learn. At that time, I saw mostly attorneys and law clerks using the law library as everything was in the books.

The 1980s library.

A lot has changed over the years. Now so much of the library’s collection is available online with Lexis and Westlaw. Close to 80% of the library’s reference questions come from non-attorneys. The library houses the Family Law Self-Help Center and provides a weekly “Ask a Lawyer in the Law Library” brief advice clinic for civil non-family matters.

The reference desk – 40 years later.

While much has changed in the way that we can access legal information, I can say that one constant is actually me, the law librarian able to assist with access to legal information no matter the format or who might be asking.

The “reading room” today.

Although, technically, I have been in the same position for 40 years, I have seen so much change that I can’t say that anything else is the same. I have enjoyed the challenges and opportunities that change can bring without having to leave. I am looking forward to the future and whatever it may bring.

By Joan Bellistri

Law Library Director for the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library

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