Role of Library Professionals in Legal Education.
(Legal Education witha Difference)
‘Library Professional is not a teacher of books; he/she is a teacher of knowledge’
Libraries are considered as Brain of every academic institution. Libraries play a vital role to achievethe goals of every degree awarding institution. Library is not a building loaded with books, it is a repository and source of information and ideas, a place for learning and examination, and for the generation of thought and the creation of new knowledge. Academic libraries have the potential to bridge the gap between the ‘information poor’ and the ‘information rich’ by ensuring the users from all educational sectors and provide the easy access of knowledge that they need. Importance of libraries cannot be neglected in the field of law. The law has always been information based and research demanding field it requires the brain-storming of the future lawyers. Law libraries are reflected as specialized libraries or legal research centers, which deal with special and differentlaws of information research sources, contain specifiedlegal materials and serve classifiedusers with narrow range of interests and with broader needs of interests.
As Danner, Estes, & Meadows, (2009) highlights the importance of law library,
“The primary mission of the law educational library is to meet the information needs of the faculty and students of the institution to support it and educating future lawyers, law libraries are the major producers of scholarly literature in law, provide the resources and support needed for research and publication.”
The field of library and information science play an essential role in legal education system. The ultimate goal of this field is to satisfy their users, depending on the legal education satisfied library professionalscheck, select, gain up to date knowledge in the field. Then distribute itthrough law library or law e-library, mostly current information available in book, brochures, circular, magazines, journals and newspaper etc.
The law library professionals play anexclusive and central role to providing the right information to the right users at the right time for the legal process and for the social justice.Even though the basic education and the essential experiences of law library professionals are similar to the other types of library professionals, but there are sufficient differences in their missions and responsibilitieswhich makes them unique and special.The collections of law libraries are relevant to the specific research needs and thrusts of the institution. Depending on their areas of interest, library professionals acquire materials at the national and international research fronts of their disciplines. They modeling the quality of the legal education system at all levels by the virtue of their unique library products and services.
Library professionals are the goldenpart in legal education process from the very beginning; they were highly participated in legal education,saved the timeand provide the bestlibrary services(online reference service, selective dissemination of information current awareness service)and legal sources to their users.The ideal law library professional is completely knowledgeable about every term of the legal studies. He/she is the personofall the necessary character traits, attitudes, and skills which makes him effective legal information professional.Law Judges, researchers, practitioners, and professors and the students have no much time to find out the relevant piece of information from the library, which are spread over vast variety of sources and only choice is to relay upon the library professional and his professional skills enhanced the capability of law library user to arrive at proper book place in the library. (Right book at the right place).
“Providing legal education is the motto of every law library professional”. Law library professionals have unique combination of professional skills, because documents related to legal matters always require special skills to manage; especially moot court practices, court judgments, legislative enactments, constitutional laws, contract acts, company’sordinances, administrative rules and regulations. They perform their role by bridging the gap between the growing needs of the law users in an information society and developing the abilities of the users to access, evaluate and use of legal information they need. Of course, the role of library professionals in legal education is quite different and significant from other librarians.
We live in a knowledge driven society, where the information needsand demandof every library patron is becoming increasingly complex and difficult, especially law library users find something which is very unique and different becausethey are responsible to providing justice in our society.So, library is the place where “The books are for use” (said by S.R.Ranganathan in his 5 laws of Library and Information Science), where user found every answer of difficult question, library professionals provide them vital legal informationfrom the law library materials. Law library patronsalso use the other library services like book loan service, re-issued services, reserved material service,internet service, online law-site and legal databases service and library-licensed electronic resources as well.
Modern library professionals have a lot of responsibilities for the selection, acquisition,storage, managing and distributing the accurate and precise information source (printed or electronic) of legal relevance in suitable and immediately ways, which is suited to the nature of the legal research of their users/patrons.Library professionals feel pleasure when their library patrons frequently use library services and empty the book shelves.
As the father of Library and Information Sciences S.R. Ranganathan said,
‘A modern librarian, who has faith in the law that ‘BOOKS ARE FOR USE’,is happy only when his readers make his shelves constantly empty. It is not the books that go out that worry him. It is the stay-at-home volumes that perplex and depress him’.
Library professional’s first priority is to enhance the preservation and access of the legal education that is at the core of the legal profession and a core function of every law library. Library professionals support legal researchers to reach at early conclusion stage in his/her research work. They survey, understand, and are sensitive to the search behaviors and requirements of legal researchers in order to help them avoid wasted research time and effort. In doing this, they can play a vital role in the management of Justice. That’s why library professionals are called the ‘teacher of teachers.
Before the advent of ICT, libraries housed printed materials. The 21st century libraries have witnessed a tremendous turnaround in information generation and retrieval. Now the library professionals no longer hold only printed materials but also hold the combination of both printed and electronic materials. The world has truly become a global village as a result of the internet availability our society also moved into digital world, where the numerous legal databases, law sites, e-libraries (e-library Sargodha) and digital libraries(HEC digital library) are created and made available in online form for the subscribed libraries. Digitization makes library professionalsmore critical and fundamental when there is information overload in print form and uploaded into the Internet as well. Library professionals always amend their roles and adapt new technology changes (from Stone Age to digital age).They have accepted the paradigm shift from clay tablets to e. tablets.
Digital revolution has touched every aspect of law librarianship. Library professionals moved from the card catalogues to online public access catalogue (OPAC). Many of the law materials now available in machine readable form (MARC). Digital technology has affected the way we select, order, and process legal materials.The need of a library professional is a must not only for getting books from the library but to acquire the actual information from vast selection of information sources. Advocates in any academic and research institute as well as corporate professionals need to spend their time in getting relevant information. A library professional here needs to work with them as a co-worker and help them in getting relevant information when required.
Library professionals conduct different training and resource guide sessions, workshops, seminars, conferences (both national and international levels),orientation lecturesand book awareness programs/walk for the students to use and how to use the library sources which are readily available in the law library. They organized many book fairs/book exhibitions to create awareness about the importance of books in the user’s mind. In this way library professionals expresses the reputation of libraries and promote the newly product (books, journals, and magazine) and service of their libraries.
Law being an information rich subject day-by-day, it grows rapidly, it is very difficult for lawyers to practice without using effective, efficient and up-to-date law resources.
Lawyers/students swim in the law libraries and upswing with legal solutions with the cooperation of library professionals. Their specialized knowledge, experiences, skills and library services positively affect in the assets, lives, and liberty of their ultimate end users. In the near future libraries will have to cooperate much more successfully than in the past if library professionals hope to meet more research needs of their patrons, preserve print law books, and ensure that their digital collections are not lost.
In other words, law libraries have functioned as magical stick for all troubled and tussled.