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Library Guidelines and Policies



The portion of the H. Laddie Montague, Jr. Law library Mission Statement relevant to collection development reads as follows:

The mission of the H. Laddie Montague, Jr. Law library is to support the instructional and research efforts of the Penn State Law faculty and students, specifically, and those of the greater Penn State University community, generally, by supplying access to, and support in the use of, all information resources, regardless of format or physical location, needed to support the School's high expectations for teaching excellence and significant scholarly productivity (drafted, November, 2007).


Library collection development is an art not a science. From past experience and knowledge of the interests of the library's users, it is possible to know with some certainty many of the resources they will need, but the needs and interests of the community are constantly changing with new faculty, new course offerings and the development of new subject areas in the field of law. To provide resources to meet the users' needs it is necessary that the selector of materials for the library make informed predictions as to what those needs will be. The collection should be developed so that the library has a broad coverage of the entire field of law and more complete coverage in areas where the curriculum and research interest of the community are intense. Some attention must also be paid to the preservation of resident collections so that they will be available to researchers in the future; however, as locally owned print and microform collection content is increasingly digitized, the library intends to seize opportunities to deliver information in formats that deemphasize the cost, space requirements, and delivery limitations of onsite ownership in favor of robust and highly portable digital access to that same information.

Selection Process

The Associate Dean for Library and Information Services has final responsibility for all law library activities including guidance and oversight of all collection development policies and practices. The law library’s Acquisitions Department is responsible for day-to-day selection and acquisition activities including supervision of all standing and blanket orders; service as the law library's primary liaison with most publishers and information suppliers; identification, recommendation, and ultimately ordering of new materials deemed to be of interest to school of law researchers; and coordination with Penn State University Libraries' Acquisitions Department to regularly assess the appropriate level of collection development cooperation and to evaluate opportunities for resource sharing when it serves the mutual interests of the School of Law and the greater University. Additionally, the Department informs the school of law faculty about newly published books and journals (through the electronic distribution of Hein's Greenslips and access to the Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP) and its customized alert service, SmartCILP). Finally, all members of the law library faculty are encouraged to make recommendations, particularly in their areas of subject expertise, and to bring meritorious recommendations from students and other Law library users to the Associate Dean for Library and Information Services, the Assistant Director of the Law library, or the Acquisitions Department ( for purchase and licensing consideration.

As a limited federal depository library, the law library selects from those documents available using procedures outlined in its Government Documents Selection Policy (see below). Under the general oversight of the Associate Dean for Library and Information Services select members of  the law library's faculty and staff serve as liaisons with the Government Printing Office concerning our participation in the Federal Depository Library Program and are responsible for all selection, collection maintenance and recordkeeping concerning depository items added to the collection.

General Guidelines for Collection Development

1.    Access to, and not necessarily ownership of, information needed to support the research, scholarly, and teaching missions of the school of law regardless of format and independent of physical location is the emerging focus of the law library's collection development activities. In the last five years, the law library has moved aggressively to collections in electronic form that can be delivered via the Web or other online format to users wherever they are located.  Although the library will always take notice of information sources that are available in multiple formats (e.g., paper, microform, electronic), acquisitions of print materials are now concentrated on the dwindling number of titles that are not yet fully accessible in electronic form (in particular, treatises and monographs). Law library acquisitions will choose electronic formats whenever possible. 

While core collections will still be held in print and in various micro-formats for the foreseeable future, the law library recognizes that the quality, content coverage, and site-independent availability of electronic collection resources are increasingly making it possible to supplant print and film resources whose contents are now digitized. As a consequence, the law library considers it a primary collection development goal to seek all reasonable opportunities to gain the instant access to core and secondary collections of incredible diversity and depth offered by digital collections while judiciously reducing its print and film holdings and purchases.


2.    The library is obligated by its status as a U.S. Government Documents Depository Library to maintain the materials acquired through this program and make them available to the general public.

3.    The library recognizes its reciprocal obligation to collect and preserve materials that will be of use to other libraries as we expect them to maintain materials upon which we rely. We have ongoing commitments to participate in cooperative arrangements with other libraries.

4.    The law library is currently re-evaluating this Collection Development Policy with an eye toward making it better meet the emerging and rapidly changing research, scholarly, and teaching interests of the school of law.

As of August, 2015, the collection criteria and selection guidelines listed below are still in force and continue to guide most of the law library's collection development decisions.

a.     All Pennsylvania legal materials are acquired in print and are fully accessible in a variety of electronic, web-based formats. Where necessary, multiple copies, sufficient to meet the demand are acquired.

b.    Federal Materials: Access to all federal case decisions, all federal statutory materials, and all federal administrative regulations is offered in a variety of electronic, web-based formats that are available to authorized users regardless of their location.  A limited number of federal primary materials are still collected in paper.  Access to federal materials available over the internet is maintained on public use terminals. Penn State is a partial U. S. Government Documents Depository Library. Selection of Depository materials is covered by a separate policy.

c.     Other States: access to each state’s primary materials (official court reports, state codes, session laws, administrative codes, and attorneys general opinions) is offered in a variety of electronic, web-based formats.  State codes are obtained and updated in print for a small number of states geographically contiguous to Pennsylvania. Access to state secondary titles is typically restricted to those items that are available as part of one or more of the electronic collections that the Law library subscribes to (e.g., Lexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline, etc.), however exceptions can be made in cases of compelling need to obtain a state secondary title in print

d.    Bar Association Materials: The law library subscribes to the American Bar Association Package Plan in print and makes state bar journals accessible through its subscription to HeinOnline.  

e.    All of the West National Reporter System with Decennial, Regional, Pennsylvania and selected other states' digests are accessible electronically.  The law library purchases and updates the Pennsylvania Digest in print.   . 

f.     Legal Periodicals: the law library relies on HeinOnline to deliver access to its growing number of essential law journals, retaining only the most recent year’s print versions of those journals available in our libraries to ensure that any lag or embargo period that delays HeinOnline from making the most recent journal content available does not delay our users’ access to the articles.  Because the lag time between journal publication and HeinOnline publication of those journals has been reduced, or in some cases eliminated, The law library has cancelled the print versions of those journals kept current by HeinOnline. The law library continues to obtain select journals in print that are not available on HeinOnline or some other electronic service.  This includes both domestic and international journals deemed of importance to the researchers at the school of law. 

g.    Bibliographies and indices: basic acquisition tools (e.g., books in print, standard periodical directory); standard legal bibliographies; periodical indices are acquired. The library relies upon Shepard's and Keycite available on Lexis and Westlaw for citator searches and does not collect Shepard’s sets in print). Indices for UN Documents, European Union Documents, and U.S. Government Documents are acquired electronically where necessary or available freely on the web.

h.    Hornbooks and casebooks: all hornbooks are purchased (in multiple copies where demand warrants). Casebooks and other classroom materials are not collected unless little else is available on the subject.

i.      Treatises are purchased guided by the following emphasis in subject areas. Treatises which involve frequent and expensive updating unsupported by curricular needs or research interests are avoided.

                                  i.    Subject areas of strong emphasis:

1.    ADR/Arbitration

2.    Agricultural law

3.    Advocacy

4.    Commercial law

5.    Corporate/Business/Securities/Antitrust law

6.    Constitutional law - especially U.S. Supreme Court materials including biographies of justices

7.    Human rights

8.    International & Comparative law

9.    Professional Responsibility - including comparative law materials

10.  Tax law

                                 ii.    Subject areas of intermediate collection efforts:

                                iii.    Elder law

                                iv.    Native American law

                                 v.    All other subjects offered in the curriculum

j.      British and commonwealth materials: English statutes, case law, digest and materials of historical importance, as well as Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and other Commonwealth materials are accessible, primarily from various electronic, online sources to which the law library subscribes (e.g., English reports, making of modern law, Hein foreign law databases, Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg Law and various web-based sources. 

k.     Foreign Law: access to cases, statutes, and secondary resources from foreign jurisdictions is achieved, primarily, through databases and web-based resources that the Law library and Penn State University Libraries subscribe to (e.g., Hein Foreign and International Law, Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, Making of Modern Law, and the Constitutions of the Countries of the World).  The law library has purchased country-specific resources, such as Westlaw China, to support intensive faculty research and student interest in legal developments in China. Legal Newsletters in specific subject areas are not purchased except in unusual circumstances such as a lack of other sources of information in the field. Such circumstances include specific faculty projects or moot court competition problems.

l.      International Documents: United Nations, European Union and UNIDROIT materials are collected.

m.   Looseleaf Services: at least one looseleaf service for each subject in the curriculum is acquired and regularly supplemented if such a service is available. These may be in paper, digital or both formats, if interest and use warrant.

n.    Computer Assisted Legal Research: The law library’s emphasis on electronic access to essential collections is supported by an increase in the number and quality of the electronic libraries to which we now subscribe. Adding to the rich content available through Lexis and Westlaw, the law library now provides authorized user access to Bloomberg Law, BNA-Bloomberg, CCH Business, Health, and Tax libraries, and dozens more electronic collections that, collectively, provide access to all core and most secondary materials to students, faculty, and staff, regardless of the user’s physical location.

o.    Every effort is made to acquire all materials necessary to support faculty research interests and to support those seminar subjects in which the students do intensive research.

p.    Clinic Library: Most clinic research needs are satisfied though access and use of electronic, web-based resources.  However, the law library maintains  basic practice-oriented titles, as requested, within the law clinics.


Revised:  August, 2015