Thursday, October 28, 2004

Great Law Schools & Great Libraries

My law school does not do badly in the law school ratings game. But the law school rating services play a poor game because they generally ignore one crucial measure of the greatness of a law school: the quality of a law school's library.

We can have endless debates about whether a law school either is ought to be essentially an academic institution or a professional school, or whether the academic-professional divide is a false one. But -- regardless position we take on such issues -- all sensible law teachers and legal practitioners should agree on one point: much of law centers on TEXT. Hence, a great law school, regardless of how it defines its mission, must be a great repository of textual material (cases, treatises, journals, the lot).

If a law school is to grant text its proper role in the life of a law school, the law library must be a sanctuary, and the library ought to be an inviting and alluring sanctuary. For example, the seats should be comfortable and the physical environment should be aesthetically pleasing and warm. The library must be so arranged that its "customers" want to spend time in it.

A great law school must have a great library. Does US News & World Report know this? Does Brian Leiter know this?

Apparently not.

N.B. My law school fares worse -- not better -- if "library quality" is a measure of the quality of a law school. So this post does not serve a narrowly-conceived personal interest.

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