Collection Development Policy

Cornell Law Library

Collection Development Policy

Download the .pdf


I. Introduction to the Policy. 3

A. Overview of the Collection. 4

1. U.S. Law.. 5

2. International Law.. 5

3. Foreign Law.. 5

4. Rare Books and Special Collections. 6

5. Popular Reading and DVD Collections. 7

6. Exclusions. 7

7. Duplication. 7

8. Gift and Exchange Policy. 8

9. Book Sales. 8

B. The Collection Development Process. 8

C. Cooperative Collection Development and Resource Sharing. 8

1. Cornell University Library (CUL) 9

2. NELLCO.. 9

3. Borrow Direct and Interlibrary Loan. 9

4. Northeast Foreign Law Library Cooperative Group (NEFLLCG) 9

D. Collection Development Trends and New Directions. 9

1. Transition to a New Legal Information Environment 9

2. Collection Review.. 10

3. Cancellation of Print Materials. 10

4. Policy Revision. 10

II. General Collection Development Policies. 10

A. Collection Types. 11

1. Administrative Materials. 11

2. American Law Reports (ALR) 11

3. Atlases. 11

4. Attorney General Opinions. 11

5. Bar Journals. 11

6. Bibliographies. 12

7. Casebooks. 12

8. Codes (Statutory) 12

9. Compact Discs. 13

10. Constitutional Convention Proceedings. 13

11. Constitutions (U.S.) 13

12. Constitutions (World) 13

13. Continuing Legal Education. 13

14. Court Records and Briefs. 14

15. Court Reports. 14

16. Court Rules. 15

17. Dictionaries and Thesauri 15

18. Digests. 15

19. DVDs. 15

20. Encyclopedias. 16

21. Examinations. 16

22. Hornbooks and Study Aids. 16

23. Law for the Layperson. 16

24. Legal Periodicals. 16

25. Legislative Documents. 17

26. Legislative Histories. 17

27. Legislative Journals. 17

28. Looseleaf Services. 18

29. Microforms. 18

30. Newspapers and Magazines. 18

31. Popular Magazines. 19

32. Periodical Indexes. 19

33. Practitioners’ Guides. 19

34. Restatements of the Law and the American Law Institute Model Codes. 19

35. Session Laws. 20

36. State Documents. 20

37. State-Specific Materials. 20

38. Theses. 20

39. Treaties. 20

40. Treatises. 21

B. Special Collections. 21

1. Bennett Collection. 21

2. Cornelliana. 21

3. The Donovan Nuremberg Trials. 22

4. E.J. Marshall Equity Collection. 23

5. Rare Books. 23

6. Reference Collection. 23

7. Reserve Collections. 23

8. William P. Rogers and Adele Langston Rogers Collection. 24

9. Safe. 24

10. Trials. 24

11. U.S. Government Documents. 24


I.             Introduction to the Policy

Academic law libraries are going through a transitional period as legal resources become increasingly available in digital format. Navigating this evolving environment requires a flexible, forward-thinking approach to collection development. This policy outlines the selection process and provides guidance on how the Cornell Law Library selects resources that further the Law Library’s mission, which states:

Through creative services and strategic partnerships, Cornell University Law Library advances excellence in legal scholarship, research, and teaching.

The Law Library collection serves the curriculum and research needs of the Cornell Law School faculty and students as a first priority. It also serves the legal research needs of the campus community and of legal researchers more generally. The philosophy behind the collection development policy of the Law Library is to ensure an excellent collection for current use and to build a collection that balances the print collection with digital resources to meet our users’ needs.

The selection process includes close interaction with law faculty, who are consulted on a regular basis about their curricular and research needs as part of the faculty liaison service provided by the Law Library. Faculty members also make unsolicited recommendations for purchase and every attempt is made to honor these requests.

The collection serves a number of Law School academic programs. In addition to the J.D., LL.M., and J.S.D. degrees, the Law School offers a J.D. with specialization in international legal affairs, a Master of Science-Legal Studies for nonprofessionals, an LL.M. in Law Technology and Entrepreneurship from the Cornell Tech campus, and several joint and dual degree programs, such as the J.D.-Master of Business Administration, J.D.-Master in Industrial & Labor Relations, J.D.-Master of Public Administration, J.D.-Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, J.D.-Ph.D. in other fields, J.D.-Master-en-droit (Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne), and J.D.-Master of German and European Law and Practice (Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin). The Berger International Legal Studies Program and the Jack Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture foster instruction and research in international and comparative law, including the Paris Summer Institute program, an LL.M. for international students, and an LL.M. for American students in international and comparative law. Four law reviews are published by Cornell Law School: a peer-reviewed scholarly journal (Journal of Empirical Legal Studies), and three student-edited law reviews (Cornell Law Review, Cornell International Law Journal, and Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy).

A.            Overview of the Collection

The Law Library collection consists of more than 700,000 volumes in print and print equivalents on site and in the Cornell University Library Annex.

Current collecting priorities build on existing strengths and the needs of the Law School faculty and curriculum. The Law Library provides access to materials in print and increasingly in digital formats, including Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg, and other Internet-based resources. The Law Library licenses access to more than 50 databases and provides access to hundreds of additional law-related and interdisciplinary databases via Cornell University Library. These resources can be accessed remotely by the Law School community and other authorized users.

Increasingly, digital information sources supplement or replace print sources. The Law Library provides access to some specialized materials, e.g., state administrative codes, through online databases, rather than paper. The Law Library is also responding to users’ demands for information sources in digital form and is moving toward a much larger program of delivery of information to library users’ devices. The Law Library continuously evaluates and licenses databases to serve the research needs of faculty and students. Decisions to purchase digital resources are made on a case-by-case basis considering content, the reliability of the vendor, the ease of use, and the needs of the Law School community. When possible, the Law Library licenses digital materials for access by the entire Cornell University campus and cooperates with other Cornell Libraries, such as the Catherwood Library of the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations, to license databases related to the communities’ shared research interests. E-books are not purchased except as components of content packages.

The collection is strong in Anglo-American law. One of its distinctive features is the large historical law collection, including many rare books and early American law treatises, partly attributable to the Law Library’s founding in 1887. The collection includes coverage of Anglo-American primary source materials, including reported decisions of federal and state courts, as well as retrospective collections of federal and state codes and session laws. The Earl J. Bennett Collection of state session laws and earlier codes of the U.S. and all the states in paper through 2010 is one of the few such collections in the U.S. It is supported by an endowment. The Anglo-American law collections also contain rich holdings of secondary sources.

The Law Library provides excellent coverage of many areas of foreign and international law. In recent years, the Law Library has cancelled many print subscriptions to foreign primary sources as these resources become available on the Internet. There is a policy to selectively collect foreign legal periodicals due to the proliferation of new titles, online availability, and cost constraints.

1.            U.S. Law

Most subject areas of law, in particular subjects taught in the law school or of special interest to a law faculty member, are collected at the instructional and research levels. Increasingly, interdisciplinary subjects, such as law and economics, are collected, as well as developing areas of law, such as feminist jurisprudence. A special strength is the Library’s individually cataloged microform collection of law reform commission materials from the United States and former British Commonwealth countries. The collection of legislative history materials is strong from the 1970s forward.

The Law Library is a selective depository for U.S. government documents, selecting just over 10% of the items available through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), with preference given to digital versions. In cooperation with the two other depository libraries on campus (Olin/Uris and Mann), it also provides access to most of the digital content available through the FDLP. Resources are individually accessible through the online catalog.

2.            International Law

The International Law collection focuses on international business transactions, international trade, public and private international law, international organizations, international arbitration, environmental law, and human rights.

3.            Foreign Law

The Foreign Law collection is strong in areas of traditional research strengths—Europe and the British Commonwealth—and is expanding into new areas, such as East Asian law, to meet new demands from faculty and Law School programs. United Kingdom, British Commonwealth countries, and Caribbean materials are collected. Many print primary sources have been cancelled, both for cost reasons and because they are available through reliable governmental or quasi-governmental websites or online subscription services, including Lexis and Westlaw. The Library focuses its attention on monographs and online resources.

Europe. Materials from major European countries whose legal culture has had significant influence on others, preeminently France and Germany, are collected. The Library also collects laws from Sweden, and in a slightly lower category, Austria, Belgium, and Switzerland. The law of the European Union is also a particular focus.

span style="text-decoration:underline">Japan, People’s Republic of China, Republic of China (Taiwan), and South Korea. These countries are the focus for the Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture. The Law Library works in partnership with CUL Kroch Library’s Wason Collection on East Asia to purchase print and digital materials. Wason mostly collects in the vernacular, and the Law Library in English. The Library also collects Thai materials as a result of a connection to Thailand through LL.M. and J.S.D. students.

Liberia. The Liberian law collection was acquired through a Cornell professor, Milton Konvitz. The Law Library maintains a historical collection of Liberian statutes and case law. Due to the upheaval caused by the Liberian civil war, the Law Library is the sole repository of a complete collection of Liberian law through the 1990s and is working to digitize its collection in order to provide access to Liberian citizens and interested legal researchers worldwide.

Israel. An endowment allows the Library to collect laws and secondary sources in English.

Generally, the Law Library selects in the English language on the law of most non-English-speaking countries, but there is also a collection of materials in French, German, and other European languages. Primary sources, such as statutes, codes, and court reports are still collected for some countries; however, the amount of primary material that is collected has been greatly reduced because of its growing availability on foreign governmental or quasi-governmental web sites, as well as online services. Much of the material that is still collected fulfills the library’s commitments to collaborative agreements.

In addition to the priorities of the jurisdictions listed here, certain subject priorities of great interest to faculty and programs in the Law School are collected irrespective of jurisdiction. These currently include arbitration, constitutional law, human rights, international criminal law, and women’s rights. Interdisciplinary and comparative legal studies have also grown in importance and both areas are widely collected.

4.            Rare Books and Special Collections

The rare book collection is one of the finest law rare book collections in the United States. It consists of over 3,500 volumes of primarily English and continental European law books. The collection includes many sixteenth- and seventeenth-century works, colonial and early American statutory law, and a collection of works on trials from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries.

The special collections include:

Donovan/Nuremberg Trials. The collection includes the Nuremberg trial materials held by General “Wild Bill” Donovan, head of the OSS and assistant to Chief Prosecutor Justice Robert Jackson. The 150 volumes in the collection include trial transcripts, interviews of defendants, pre-trial memoranda and witness statements, photographic exhibits, an analysis of Hitler’s personality commissioned by the OSS, as well as many other recently declassified documents. Over the past five years, the documents in this collection have been indexed and digitized and made available on the Law Library’s web page.

Scottsboro Trials. This collection includes original trial transcripts, the replica of the train used as an exhibit in the trial, and original photos of the trial provided by defense counsel and Law School graduate, Samuel Leibowitz, Class of 1915.

Trials Collection. This collection includes reports of more than 1400 trials published in the last 250 years and more than 500 pamphlets ranging in date from the mid-1600s to the late 1880s. Many of these have been digitized by the Hein Publishing Company through a special collaboration with the Law Library.

William and Adele Rogers Collection. William and Adele Rogers were graduates of the Law School, Class of 1937 and Class of 1936 respectively. Materials donated by the Rogers family include artifacts related to the life and work of the former U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of State.

Bennett Statutory Collection. The Bennett Collection is a collection of print state codes and session laws dating back to colonial times. This collection was discontinued in 2010.

Chile Declassification Project. This print collection includes several thousand government reports, memos, and correspondence detailing the relationship between the United States and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was in power from 1973 to 1990.

Supreme Court Collection. The Law Library serves as a depository for print Supreme Court records and briefs dating from 1928.

The Konvitz Archive. The Konvitz Archive consists of Liberian law materials collected by Professor Milton Konvitz (ILR and Law) from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s for use in the Liberian Codification Project. The collection contains statutes and codes from the 1840s through the 1950s and drafts and revisions of the latest Liberian code.

5.            Popular Reading and DVD Collections

The Library has a popular fiction and non-fiction book collection focused on current bestsellers, and a DVD movie collection of law-related and current award-winning movies and television series.

6.            Exclusions

Practitioner-oriented materials are collected very selectively. Normally, the Law Library does not select treatises or pro se materials for states other than New York or pro se materials.

7.            Duplication

The Law Library cooperates with other Cornell University Library units in the selection of materials. Thus, the duplication of materials held in other campus libraries is avoided unless needed for the Law School curriculum or faculty research. Agreements regarding purchases exist with the following unit libraries:

Kroch Asia – The Law Library mainly collects legal materials from Asian countries in English, while the three divisions of the Kroch Asia library (South Asia Collection, Echols Collection on Southeast Asia, and Wason Collection on East Asia) collect in the vernacular.

Industrial and Labor Relations – The Law Library collects labor law materials, but not comprehensively in areas of personnel policy, labor relations, or worker’s compensation.

Engineering – The Law Library collects environmental law materials, but not technical information on the environment. The Law Library also collects materials on the law of patents, while the Engineering Library holds the patents.

Fine Arts Library - The Law Library collects materials on zoning and the legal aspects of land use but relies on the Fine Arts Library to collect other materials on city planning.

Olin Library - The Law Library collects international legal materials but relies on Olin Library as a UN depository library and for materials on international relations.

8.            Gift and Exchange Policy

Gifts of materials for the Law Library collection are sent to the Head of Collections, who decides whether to accept them. The Law Library reserves the right to dispose of all gifts in any way beneficial to the Law Library, including acceptance, discard, or sale or exchange of unwanted or duplicate materials. Gift valuations are not provided.

Exchanges are used only if a publication for which the exchange is made cannot otherwise be acquired in a reliable manner.

9.            Book Sales

The Law Library periodically holds a book sale for the law school community, depending on the availability of materials. Books sold consist of surplus copies (often triplicates) which have been withdrawn from the collection and donations outside subject areas collected by the Law Library or already represented in the regular collection or Cornelliana. Proceeds from the sale are deposited into the Law Library collections budget for acquisitions.

B.           The Collection Development Process

The Head of Collections working collaboratively with Research Librarians and in conjunction with the Collection Development Team (the Digital Resources Librarian, the Collection Development Assistant, and the Senior Acquisitions Assistant) selects and orders materials. In addition the Head of collections serves as the Law Library representative in meetings with publishers and vendors. The Head of Collections serves as a member of the CUL Collection Development Executive Team. A member of the Collection Development Team represents the Law Library on the CUL Social Science Selectors Team.

The materials selection process involves professional judgment, a thorough knowledge of the collection, familiarity with faculty research interests, and familiarity with the curriculum. The Collection Development Team assesses current and future needs. The process often includes an analysis of existing holdings in specific areas.

C.           Cooperative Collection Development and Resource Sharing

Cooperative collection development and resource sharing agreements have become an integral part of the Law Library collection development program. The Law Library has entered into cooperative agreements with the following organizations:

1.            Cornell University Library (CUL)

The Law Library is an integral member of the Cornell University Library and attempts, as much as possible, not to duplicate materials in other CUL libraries unless they are necessary because of high demand, class use, or inconvenience in access if not present in the Law Library collection. CUL libraries are consulted for sharing costs on expensive purchases. The Law Library negotiates for University-wide access to databases where possible to allow all CUL libraries to share specific digital resources. The Head of Collections serves on the CUL Collection Development Executive Team and thus participates in the decision-making process.

2.            NELLCO

The Law Library is a member of NELLCO, Inc., a consortium of law libraries formed to negotiate discounts from database vendors for member libraries. Vendors provide trials for interested members who can then select the digital resources that best serve their constituents. The Edward Cornell Law Librarian serves on NELLCO’s Board of Directors and attends Board meetings. Cornell Law Library is a founding and contributing member of Preserving America’s Legal Materials in Print (PALMPrint), a collaborative pilot project of NELLCO and the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA), aimed at developing a shared, circulating collection of primary, U.S. legal materials in print.

3.            Borrow Direct and Interlibrary Loan

Borrow Direct is a cooperative venture among Ivy League and other major academic research libraries to provide an alternative to interlibrary loan by allowing users at member institutions direct access to materials at other member libraries. Researchers can request material found at any Borrow Direct library and have it delivered within four days for use up to twelve weeks. Interlibrary Loan is an additional collaborative service that the Law Library utilizes to provide access to materials not actively collected.

4.            Northeast Foreign Law Library Cooperative Group (NEFLLCG)

NEFLLCG is an informal cooperative group comprising Cornell, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Fordham, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, and Georgetown law school libraries. The group meets two or three times a year to discuss trends in collecting foreign and international legal materials and to assess new international and foreign legal databases.

D.           Collection Development Trends and New Directions

1.            Transition to a New Legal Information Environment

Interest in new areas of interdisciplinary study and in areas of foreign and international law continues to grow throughout the Law School community, an interest that flows from our global society and economy. These new research interests and the addition of new programs and centers at the Law School, such as the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice, have created a noticeable added demand for foreign and international legal information, as well as a demand for interdisciplinary materials in law and economics, law and history, psychology, medicine, etc. The Law Library collects both print and digital materials in these new areas.

The importance of digital legal resources continues to increase steadily, but paper resources persist in their importance for legal research. The collection is based on selecting the best resource regardless of format.

The open access movement is impacting collection development. Cornell Law Library is collecting, preserving, and providing open access to the scholarly work of faculty and students in the digital repositories, Scholarship@Cornell Law and LawArXiv. These two repositories like Scholarship@Cornell Law are designed as mechanisms of preservation and vehicles for dissemination of scholarly research and thought.

2.            Collection Review

The Law Library continuously evaluates its collection in all formats—print, microform, and digital—to ensure that materials in the collection support the Law Library’s mission of serving the information needs of the faculty and students.

3.            Cancellation of Print Materials

Where digital versions of print material exist, the Collection Development Team may rely on the digital version, provided the digital resource satisfies the criteria for selection. Reliance on digital resources triggers consideration of the need to continue collecting the print resource. Print cancellations are always done in consultation with the faculty. The following cancellation criteria apply:

·         Is the publication routed to faculty? Is it of current or potential interest to a particular faculty? Is it important for curricular and student needs?

·         Is it duplicated in print elsewhere on campus?

·         Is it available on Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg, or HeinOnline in digital form, including the current issue?

·         Is it available through another database at Cornell?

·         Is it freely available on other online services, or from a credible and stable source on the Internet?

·         If a government resource, is the online version authentic and official?

·         Is the publication a part of a historically strong collection?

4.            Policy Revision

As academic programs grow and change, and the number and formats of legal information resources proliferate, the Law Library will periodically review and revise this policy to ensure that it meets the needs of the Law School community.

II.           General Collection Development Policies

These policies transcend subject boundaries and govern the collection of materials by type (primary/secondary sources), location, format, collection, or special character. For ease of access, the materials have been arranged alphabetically.

A.           Collection Types

1.            Administrative Materials

a)            Federal

The Government Printing Office provides reliable web access to the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) through FDsys ( Historical versions of both the Federal Register and the CFR are also accessible through the Library’s subscription to HeinOnline. The Law Library also collects the CFR in print.

Decisions from several federal agencies are received through the Federal Depository Library Program. Since most administrative decisions are now available on agency websites and in online databases such as HeinOnline, print decisions are usually not collected now.

b)            State

New York State provides reliable web access to the New York State Register ( Administrative registers and administrative decisions from other states, while collected in certain areas in the past, are not collected at the present time.

2.            American Law Reports (ALR)

ALR is available on Westlaw and Lexis Advance. Cancelled print copies are located in the Reading Room and the third floor stacks. Discontinued second copies are located in the Annex.

3.            Atlases

Recent editions of Hammond World Atlas (Reference) and the Rand McNally Road Atlas (Reserve) are collected in print.

4.            Attorney General Opinions

a)            Federal

Formal U.S. Attorney General opinions are available in print in Opinions of the Attorneys General of the United States, covering the period 1791-1974. Informal opinions of the U.S. Attorneys General appear in Opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel, with coverage starting in 1977. Opinions are also available in the U.S. Attorney General & Department of Justice Collection on HeinOnline.

b)            State

Opinions of the Attorneys General of New York State have been collected in print since 1889 and are also reliably available online ( Print availability of the opinions of Attorneys General of other states varies considerably. Currently we only receive the New York Attorney General Opinions in print.

5.            Bar Journals

We subscribe to the ABA Journal in print. Historic collections of bar journals are maintained in the stacks.

6.            Bibliographies

The Law Library collects legal and law-related bibliographies. The most useful are located in the Reference collection. Other bibliographies are located in the stacks. The Library’s subscription to HeinOnline also includes many legal bibliographies.

RETENTION: If bibliographies are updated or superseded, latest editions are located in Reference, and earlier editions are located in the stacks.

7.            Casebooks

Casebooks are purchased when used as textbooks for courses taught in the Law School. Multiple copies are purchased for courses with high enrollments. Casebooks received as gifts, but not used for the academic program, may be added to the collection if relevant.

LOCATION: Casebooks currently being used for courses are in Reserve. Earlier editions of casebooks are located in the stacks.

RETENTION: Generally, one copy of earlier editions of casebooks is sent to the stacks. Casebooks written by current Cornell law faculty also have one copy placed in the Cornelliana Collection.

8.            Codes (Statutory)

a)            Federal

The United States Code is collected, as is the United States Code Annotated. One current set of each is in the Reading Room. The United States Code is also reliably available online from the GPO (

DUPLICATES: Previous editions of the United States Code and discontinued sets of United States Code Annotated and United States Code Service are located in the stacks.

b)            States

Annotated codes are collected for the states in the Northeast, the District of Columbia, and other major states. For New York State both McKinney’s Consolidated Laws of New York (West) and Consolidated Laws Service (Lexis Publishing) are collected.

DUPLICATES: One set of McKinney’s Consolidated Laws of New York and one set of Consolidated Laws Service are acquired and are located in the Reading Room. A second current set of McKinney’s is maintained in Special Reserve.

Lexis/Westlaw: An annotated version of the state codes is available on Lexis and Westlaw.

RETENTION: For codes whose publication format is bound volumes supplemented by pocket parts or paperbound pamphlets, superseded volumes are transferred to the Bennett Collection. Pocket parts and pamphlets are not transferred.

An exception to this rule exists for McKinney’s Consolidated Laws of New York. One copy of the annual superseded pocket parts to this set is bound and sent to the Bennett Collection when the new pocket parts arrive each year.

Superseded pages for state codes in looseleaf format are not retained. Annual paperbound indexes to codes are not retained.

9.            Compact Discs

The Library does not currently collect in this format. When a book arrives with a companion CD, the CD will remain in the book. Single CD items are kept in Special Reserve.

10.          Constitutional Convention Proceedings

a)            Federal Constitution

In addition to M. Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, and P.B. Kurland and R. Lerner, The Founders’ Constitution, several publications provide secondary treatment of the Convention of 1787.

b)            State Constitutions

The only state for which there is a concerted effort to collect constitutional convention proceedings is New York.

There are proceedings in the collection from various states for random years.

The Law Library has these titles in the Reference Collection: State Constitutional Conventions, Commissions & Amendments, 1959-1978: An Annotated Bibliography, and State Constitutional Conventions, Commissions & Amendments, 1979-1988: An Annotated Bibliography.

11.          Constitutions (U.S.)

U.S. and state constitutions are all available in the collection. Unannotated constitutions are in Constitutions of the United States, National and State. The unannotated U.S. Constitution is also available in the United States Code and other publications, such as Black’s Law Dictionary and West’s Guide to American Law.

Annotated versions of the U.S. Constitution are available in The United States Constitution: Analysis and Interpretation, and in United States Code Annotated and United States Code Service (discontinued).

Annotated versions of state constitutions are available in the annotated codes for each state.

12.          Constitutions (World)

The Law Library has access to foreign constitutions through HeinOnline’s World Constitutions Illustrated.

13.          Continuing Legal Education

The Law Library purchases very little CLE material from the various state continuing legal education programs and those of the ABA. Choices of materials to purchase are based on topical importance or interest of faculty. Many ALI-ABA materials are owned digitally through HeinOnline’s American Law Institute Library. The Library also subscribes to Practising Law Institute (PLI) Discover Plus, an ebook platform providing access to PLI’s publications.

14.          Court Records and Briefs

Court records and briefs are collected in paper for the United States Supreme Court, and in microfiche for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the New York State Court of Appeals.

a)            U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs

Print: The Cornell Law Library is one of a few law libraries in the country to receive paper copies of U.S. Supreme Court records and briefs as a special depository library. Coverage starts in 1930 and continues to the present. The Law Library also has the set Landmark Briefs and Arguments of the United States Supreme Court: Constitutional Law. Coverage in this set is for volumes 1-80 (1793-1974).

Microforms: Microfilm: 1832-1915; Microfiche: 1915-1930; 1975-1995

b)            U.S. Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Microfiche: Coverage starts in 1952.

c)            Briefs of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Microfiche: Coverage starts in 1974.

d)            Briefs and Oral Arguments for the New York State Court of Appeals

Print: 1848-1849; 1880-1890; 1913-1925; 1925-1975

Microfiche: Coverage begins in 1975.

15.          Court Reports

Print: The Library canceled the National Reporter system in 2012. Discontinued sets are shelved in the stacks.

Digital: All American court reports are reliably available through Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law.

a)            Federal Court Reports

Print: The Library continues to receive United States Reports. Slip opinions are received for the United States Supreme Court and kept until the preliminary prints are received.

b)            State Court Reports

Print: The Law Library collects one copy of the official and unofficial New York reporters. In the basement collection, the Law Library has many of the pre-National Reporter volumes in paper. Although the condition of some is worn, it is useful to have a paper source for this material.

Microfilm: The Law Library has a microfilm set of state pre-National Reporter volumes.

16.          Court Rules

Digital: Current court rules are reliably available on Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law.

a)            Federal Court Rules

Print: Federal Court rules are included in the collections of the United States Code and the United States Code Annotated. Current versions of the rules with commentary are also housed in Reserve.

b)            State Court Rules

Print: For several states, the court rules are part of the state code, and are included in rules volumes of the copies of the state annotated codes in the Reading Room. Superseded West annual state court rules volumes are retained only for New York State (McKinney’s New York Rules of Court: State and Federal) in the Bennett Collection.

17.          Dictionaries and Thesauri

a)            Legal Dictionaries

The Law Library collects several English language dictionaries and thesauri. These include Black’s, Ballentine’s, and other smaller volumes for American usage, which are housed in Reference. Legal dictionaries are also collected for the United Kingdom and Canada. Earlier editions of legal dictionaries and thesauri are located in the stacks.

b)            General Dictionaries and Thesauri

Non-legal dictionaries in English are collected selectively. Included in the collection are The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, and The Random House Dictionary of the English Language. These are housed in the Reference collection in the Reading Room. Superseded editions are kept in the stacks.

c)            Bilingual and Multilingual Law Dictionaries

Current bilingual and multilingual law-related dictionaries are collected as needed to support the academic program. These are kept in the Reference collection in the Reading Room.

d)            General Bilingual and Multilingual Dictionaries

Current dictionaries for the major European, Asian, and Arabic languages are housed in the Reference collection in the Reading Room. Dictionaries are shelved in Reference until they are superseded, then moved to the stacks.

18.          Digests

Print: West digests are purchased for the United States Supreme Court and federal courts. Regional digests were canceled with the National Reporter system. State digests are purchased only if the corresponding state code is still maintained in the collection. The American Decennial and General Digests are no longer collected.

19.          DVDs

Other than those in the Popular DVD Collection, DVDs are normally purchased only upon the recommendation of law faculty. While many deal with Trial Advocacy issues, we also have DVDs on legal research and ethics.

20.          Encyclopedias

a)            Legal

The Law Library currently subscribes to American Jurisprudence Second Edition (Am. Jur. 2d.) but in 2010 cancelled Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.), which is reliably available on Westlaw. The library also subscribes to New York Jurisprudence.

b)            Non-Legal

The Law Library selectively collects major single and multivolume works in English, as well as authoritative encyclopedias in the social sciences and humanities.

21.          Examinations

The Library no longer collects Cornell Law School examinations. The Registrar now collects Cornell Law School examinations when provided by individual law professors and makes them available to registered students on the intranet of the Law School.

Bound volumes of older examinations are kept on shelves in the Reading Room. Two copies of the older bound volumes of Cornell Law School examinations are kept in the Cornelliana Collection in the Safe.

22.          Hornbooks and Study Aids

Print: The number of copies of hornbooks varies according to demand. For the West Hornbook series, only selective editions are purchased, with preference for the student, rather than practitioner’s, editions. We also have standing orders to the Understanding the Law Series, the Examples and Explanations series, Concepts and Insights, the Global Issues series, Law Stories, and the Nutshell series. The current editions are located in Reserve. One copy of earlier editions is kept in the stacks with the classified treatises.

23.          Law for the Layperson

The Law Library does not generally collect books dealing with law for the layperson, with the exception of some publications addressing New York State law. The Law Library does not maintain a designated self-help area for pro se patrons.

24.          Legal Periodicals

Print: The Law Library collects U.S. and English language legal periodicals of a scholarly nature, as well as other English language periodicals of interest for curriculum, faculty research, or current awareness. Foreign language legal periodicals are purchased selectively to support curriculum and research and in areas of collection strength. Selection of new titles is made on the basis of the selection criteria below. The bulk of titles received are by subscription; others are received through organization memberships. Nonselection of new legal periodicals may hinge on the availability of indexing tools for them.

The Law Library subscribes to new periodicals that meet the following criteria:

·        Reasonable cost for anticipated use

·        Faculty interest

·         Supports curriculum

·        Top U. S. law reviews

·        ABA publications

·        Selected scholarly journals of interdisciplinary subjects of interest to faculty

·        Newsletters that are free as part of an organization’s membership but not available electronically

·        Journals containing original contributions (journals reprinting articles from other publications are not collected).


Digital: Hundreds of journal titles in PDF format from volume one to the most current are available through the Library’s subscription to HeinOnline and other databases.

DUPLICATES: Normally only one copy of a periodical is received, but selected titles, because of heavy use and interest, justify additional copies. One copy is bound at the end of the publication year, except for U.S. law reviews, which are retained for two years before being recycled.

Non-legal periodicals are collected as needed to support the interdisciplinary needs of the curriculum. Acquiring one copy of non-legal periodicals is the normal procedure.

25.          Legislative Documents

The Government Printing Office provides reliable web access to recent federal legislative documents through FDsys ( The Law Library now uses web access for legislative documents, including full access in ProQuest Congressional to the Serial Set and other legislative documents for 1789 to 2014. The library has a historical print collection.

26.          Legislative Histories

a)            Federal

Print and microform: The Law Library has a selective number of compiled legislative histories in the collection, in print and microform. Access to these is through the online catalog. Identification of compiled federal legislative histories can be obtained through Johnson’s Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories, which is located in Reference in the Reading Room.

Digital: The Law Library owns perpetual access to ProQuest Legislative Insight, a Federal legislative history service covering major laws from 1789 through 2012.

b)            State

Legislative histories for New York State statutes are not normally compiled; however, we do have older Assembly and Senate Journals and Documents which have useful parts of legislative histories. Legislative histories from other states are not collected.

27.          Legislative Journals

a)            Federal

Digital: The Library has access to all historical Federal legislative journals in ProQuest Congressional.

Print and Microfiche:

Annals of Congress (1789-1824) – Print

Register of Debates in Congress (1824-1837) – Print

Congressional Globe (1833-1873) – Print

Congressional Record (1873-) -- Print (1873-date) & Microfiche

b)            State of New York

New York State Senate and Assembly Journals are available in print format.

Senate Journal: 1830, 1834, 1835, 1837, 1843, 1844, 1848, 1849, 1867, 1868, 1876, 1878, 1887, 1892, 1897, 1905, 1936-

Assembly Journal: 1834, 1836, 1837, 1848, 1849, 1867, 1868, 1876, 1878, 1881, 1887, 1896, 1897, 1905, 1936-

28.          Looseleaf Services

Digital: The Law Library has a subscription to Bloomberg BNA Online, which includes all BNA looseleafs, and subscriptions to selected CCH looseleafs.

Print: Because the material can be found online and updating the services consumes an inordinate amount of staff time, the Law Library selectively subscribes to looseleaf services on the request of faculty. The looseleaf collections that have been cancelled are moved to the stacks and marked “no longer updated.”

29.          Microforms

The Law Library withdrew a large portion of its microform collection in 2013, with a substantial portion donated to the Law Library Microform Consortium (LLMC), because the Law Library has acquired permanent digital access to the materials (including historic government documents and other materials). The Library provides digital access to LLMC’s digital collections. Because researchers prefer not to research using microfilm and fiche, we collect in this format only when this format is the sole option. Typical material in this category includes U.S. GPO publications, many of which were produced exclusively in microfiche or microfilm. However, many are also now on the Internet.

30.          Newspapers and Magazines

a)            Legal Newspapers and Magazines

The Law Library currently subscribes to The American Lawyer, National Law Journal, and New York Law Journal. Copies are kept for two months. All three titles are available digitally

b)            Non-Legal Newspapers

Titles currently collected are the Cornell Daily Sun, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Ithaca Journal.

RETENTION: These titles are maintained for one month in the Reading Room.

31.          Popular Magazines

The Library subscribes to a wide selection of popular magazines, which are located in the casual seating area. The two most current issues are available before they are recycled.

32.          Periodical Indexes







AGIS Attorney Generals Information Service





Criminal Justice Abstracts




Yes, as a subscription service.

Current Law



As Legal Resource Index

As Legal Resource Index


Current Index to Legal Periodicals




Yes, as a subscription service.

Index to Canadian Legal Periodical Literature




Yes (freely available)

Index to Canadian Legal Literature - Part of the Canadian Abridgement





Index to Federal Tax Articles





Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals




Yes, as a subscription service.

Index to Legal Periodicals




Yes, as a subscription service.

Index to Legal Periodicals in Israel





Index to Periodical Articles Related to Law




Yes, as a subscription service.





Yes, as a subscription service.

PAIS International




Yes, as a subscription service.



Location: All the current print indexes are in the Reading Room.

33.          Practitioners’ Guides

The Law Library selectively purchases practitioners’ guides, mainly for New York.

34.          Restatements of the Law and the American Law Institute Model Codes

Digital: The Law Library owns the American Law Institute Library on HeinOnline. This database includes all Restatements and Model Codes.

Print: The Law Library maintains one copy of each Restatement and of the Uniform Laws Annotated in the Reading Room.

35.          Session Laws

a)            Federal

Digital: The Government Printing Office provides reliable web access to federal slip laws and the United States Statutes at Large through FDsys (

Print: The Law Library maintains one copy of Statutes at Large. Slip laws are received through the U.S. Government Depository Program. Slip laws are discarded upon receipt of the bound volume of U.S. Statutes at Large.

b)            State

Since 2010, the Library has collected session laws only for the state of New York. For New York, the Law Library receives one copy each of Laws of New York, McKinney’s Session Laws of New York and CLS New York Statutes.

36.          State Documents

The Law Library collects New York State documents selectively, largely because the state does not actively distribute its documents state-wide. The bulk of the documents collected are produced by various state agencies.

The collection of documents from other states is quite limited.

37.          State-Specific Materials

a)            New York State

Major practitioner sets and treatises are acquired and are placed on Closed Reserve. Other New York treatises and earlier editions of major treatises are located in the stacks.

b)            Other States

Materials on the law of other states are not usually purchased unless the subject is important for law faculty research.

38.          Theses

One copy of J.S.D. and LL.M. theses produced by Law students in those programs at Cornell Law School is kept in the Safe. Second copies are located in Olin Library.

Theses are now produced as part of the process for obtaining a J.S.D. Theses are optional in the LL.M. program but are added to the collection when they are written. Theses produced by LL.B. students in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are also kept in the thesis collection in the Safe and have been digitized and added to Scholarship@Cornell Law.

39.          Treaties

Digital: The Law Library subscribes to HeinOnline’s Treaties and Agreements Library.

Print: The Law Library continues to receive Consolidated Treaties & International Agreements as new volumes are published. Both the United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST) and the Treaties and Other International Acts Series (T.I.A.S.) are now only available on the Treaty Affairs webpage of the U.S. State Department.

40.          Treatises

The Law Library broadly purchases scholarly single or multi-volume treatises on U.S. Law. Selection criteria include:

- Subject matter

- Collection development intensity level

- Reputation of author

- Faculty interest

- Quality of publisher

- Cost

B.           Special Collections

1.            Bennett Collection

The Earl J. Bennett Collection of statutory law is funded by an endowment set up by the family of Earl J. Bennett (LL.B., 1901).The purpose of the endowment is to collect statutory material from the Federal government and the states. In this collection, housed in the Safe, are session laws from all the states and superseded U.S. and state codes. The Library stopped acquiring material for this collection in 2010.

2.            Cornelliana

The Cornelliana Collection houses materials with an important connection to Cornell Law Library and Cornell Law School. It is currently located in the Safe. The collection focuses on the publications of the Cornell law faculty and publications of the Law Library and Law School, with additional items as deemed appropriate. This collection generally does not circulate.

a)            Publications of Cornell Law Faculty

Print publications of our full-time faculty are kept in order to have a paper record of the scholarship of those who are tenured and on tenure-track. We do not collect publications of adjuncts or visitors. There is an inconsistent collection of past years and no attempt is being made to fill it out. For current and future faculty, this procedure describes what is to be retained in Cornelliana.

We collect books, including casebooks, written or edited by our faculty and books that include chapters written by them. This includes every edition of a book and each supplement but not small items/expensive books such as an encyclopedia with an article by our faculty. We do not collect offprints or copies of journal articles. We do collect books on any subject or genre, not limited to law. We do not actively collect translations of books or articles in print.

Materials come from two major sources: donations and purchases. For new books, we purchase two copies. The first copy goes to the stacks and is available for circulation and interlibrary loan. The second copy goes to Cornelliana and is the copy often used to display our faculty scholarship. When two of our faculty author or edit a book, we will buy the two usual copies to represent the work of both people.

Materials that were written before or after the faculty member taught here may be added if the material is donated or written by particularly notable authors.

The Library does not maintain a separate faculty library collection.

b)            Law School Publications

Our aim is to acquire a copy of each issue of serial-type publications from the Law School. Titles include Cornell Law Forum, Cornell Barrister, Law School Directory (i.e. facebooks).

Other periodic and monographic publications of the Law School are collected as available. Historical artifacts such as student notebooks are included in Cornelliana. Books about the school, such as histories and memoirs, are also included (e.g.: Law School Insider).

c)            History of Cornell Law School as Part of the University

We do not specifically seek to acquire publications of the University since they are acquired at the University Archives; however, when we are given material, we will add it to the Cornelliana Collection if it adds to an understanding of the history of the Law School. For example, we have Cornell University: A History, which includes extensive history of Cornell Law School.

d)            Law Library Publications

Law Library publications, including annual reports and informational brochures, are collected in Cornelliana. The collection also includes historical library accounting ledgers showing the acquisitions activity of the library.

e)            Digital Publications

Faculty publications in digital format are collected for Scholarship@Cornell Law and LawArXiv, the Law Library’s digital repositories, according to the following guidelines.

·         Scholarly articles (both published and unpublished) written by current Cornell Law professors even if they predate the faculty member’s employment at Cornell. The eventual goal is to get as much of our faculty’s scholarship into the repository as we can, going as far back in time as possible.

·         Scholarly articles written by professors while they were here, even though they are currently no longer here. This category includes both regular faculty and visitors.

·         Book reviews published in both scholarly and mainstream publications.

·         Book chapters from forthcoming books.

Scholarship@Cornell Law also includes theses written by Cornell Law School graduates and the past issues of Cornell Law Review, International Law Journal, and Journal of Law and Public Policy.

3.            The Donovan Nuremberg Trials

The collection consists of 145 bound volumes of Nuremberg trial transcripts and documents from the personal archives of General William J. Donovan. Donovan played an important part in the International Military Tribunal Proceedings in his role as special assistant to the U.S. chief of counsel, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson. The Law Library collects monographs dealing with the Nuremberg trials and other international tribunals.

4.            E.J. Marshall Equity Collection

The Law Library maintains a collection of books dealing with equity, trusts, and receivers donated by Edwin John Marshall, LL.B., 1894. The collection, numbering 949 volumes, is housed in the Safe.

"This collection is unique in that it is the only known collection where an expert in these fields has attempted in a lifelong effort to gather every book that has been published on these subjects. A fine collection of Calendars of various Chancery Rolls is included in this collection and the earliest published volume in it dates back to 1609."

--Law Library Annual Report for 1945-46

Lewis W. Morse, Law Librarian

5.            Rare Books

Rare books are defined as books having value as an object, aside from or in addition to the intellectual value of the text. The Law Library considers books published in England prior to 1800 to be rare. American law books are rare if published in large cities prior to 1812 or in smaller cities prior to 1820.

Currently, the Law Library does not purchase rare books, since no part of the acquisitions budget is assigned to building up this part of the collection. There is an endowment fund to purchase older state session laws, if available, for the Bennett Collection.

Until a new rare book room is built the collection is temporarily housed in the main vault of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, the Library Annex, and G-25 in the Law Library.

a)            Reprints

Reprints are purchased selectively. Criteria include inclusion in the AALL Law Books Recommended for Libraries, Julius Marke’s A Catalogue of the Law Collection at New York University, and the status of once owned material that has disappeared from the collection. Reprints of material available in the Rare Book collection are usually not purchased, unless our rare copy is in poor condition.

6.            Reference Collection

The Reference Collection contains atlases, bibliographic dictionaries and thesauri, directories, encyclopedias, research guides, yearbooks and almanacs.

7.            Reserve Collections

a)            Closed Reserve Collection

The Closed Reserve Collection contains class reserves as well as items kept on permanent reserve because of high use, student texts (casebooks required for Law School courses, hornbooks, nutshells, and multivolume treatises), New York State practitioner sets, the popular reading collection and the DVD collection.

b)            Special Reserve Collection

The Special Reserve Collection contains current unbound issues of journals classed in JX1, K, and KF10 for which the Library still maintains subscriptions, the collection on Juries, casebooks used for course reserve, a duplicate of McKinney’s Consolidated Laws of New York Annotated, and semi-rare and expensive monographs.

8.            William P. Rogers and Adele Langston Rogers Collection

William P. Rogers (1913-2001) graduated from Cornell Law School in 1937. He served as both Attorney General and Secretary of State with more than thirty years of public service. In 1973 the Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to him, while at the same time his wife was the first woman awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal. Mrs. Adele Rogers graduated from Cornell Law School in 1936. The collection consists of photos, press clippings, political cartoons, and memorabilia form the Rogers’ long careers in public service. The bulk of the items in the collection encompass the years 1969-1973 when Rogers was Secretary of State, and reflect the travels of the Secretary and Mrs. Rogers as they met with leaders around the world.

9.            Safe

Materials sometimes come into the collection that are not rare or valuable, yet do have a value which would put them at risk if placed in the stacks; they also do not fall into the parameters of the other special collections.

These materials are assigned the location, "Safe," and are housed in a discrete collection in the Safe.

10.          Trials

The Trials Collection is comprised of trial transcripts and accounts of famous trials. It includes documents on the Nuremberg Trials, trial transcripts and pamphlets, and books about famous trials. In order to ensure greater security for this collection, the materials are housed in the Safe and are non-circulating.

Books about trials added from 2000 forward, regardless of call number, are located in the stacks. These books are available for regular check out and are still designated as belonging in the Trials Collection.

11.          U.S. Government Documents

The Law Library is a selective depository for federal publications as part of the Federal Depository Library Program. Print publications are integrated into the collection rather than being housed as a separate government documents collection. The Law Library also obtains selected documents from outside the depository program from individual agencies and the GPO Sales program. With preference given to digital versions, the Law Library selects materials in the following areas:

·         Laws passed by Congress

·         Congressional reports and documents

·         Reports of decisions in United States courts

·         Regulations promulgated by agencies

·         Justice Department publications of interest to the Law Library’s users

·         State Department publications of interest to the Law Library’s users

·         Selected materials from other agencies of interest to the Law Library’s users


The Law Library selects just over 10% of GPO depository offerings; the percentage of depository items chosen by the combined CUL Libraries is about 80%.