Future uncertain for law library

Lederman Law Library down to six and a half staff, head law librarian says

The Lederman Law Library is operated by the equivalent of six-and-a-half full-time staff.
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The Lederman Law Library is operated by the equivalent of six-and-a-half full-time staff.

Queen’s may lose its law library if cuts to the University’s library system continue, Head Law Librarian Nancy McCormack said.

The Lederman Law Library personnel size is the same as the smallest law library in Canada, which is at the University of Moncton, McCormack said.

“Moncton has 11 full-time faculty and 104 law students,” she said, adding that Queen’s has 30 full-time law faculty and about 500 law students.

There’s the equivalent of six and a half full-time staff at Lederman, she said, adding that in order to function at the same level as other universities of comparable size, Lederman needs about 12 to 13 full-time staff.

“The entire library system has been really cut,” she said. “Everything is facing a budget reduction of $1.2 million from 2009-10 to 2012-2013.”

McCormack said 16 library staff positions have been cut since 2004-05 and she foresees more cuts on the way.

“One of the threats is that we may lose more staff and become the library with the lowest number of personnel in Canada,” she said. “I think there comes a point at which you can’t operate a library anymore … there’s this number below which you just can’t go because you can’t keep the doors open anymore.” McCormack said one option that’s been discussed is to centralize the functions of staff in the University’s six libraries, which she said could potentially hurt the Lederman library.

“If we have centralization of our functions we could lose more of our staff,” she said, adding that additional issues would be sick days and vacations.

“If you have that at the same time you don’t have anyone at work.”

McCormack said she thinks the law library is a vital resource for law students.

“Our students call our library their laboratory because libraries are really important to law students,” she said. “A lot of legal materials are still in print so students need to come to the library to work with books in print and as a result you get big groups of people in the library at any time. Our library is always full.”

Erin Pleet, Law Students’ Society president and Law ’11, said she thinks the Lederman library is something the law school can’t function without.

“I’d go so far as to call it the heart of the law faculty,” she said. “Every law student uses it.”

Pleet said she thinks it’s a useful resource for law students’ courses, research and professional training that other University libraries don’t offer because they’re not specialized.

“The law faculty staff in the Lederman Law Library are phenomenal and they’ve done a miraculous job with the numbers they have. To pull away any more people or services, at that point, students will see a compromise to their legal education,” she said.

“Resources in a law library are very particular to the study of law. … What’s important to law students is to get access to those materials,” she said.

“We’re lucky that the faculty, the library and students all agree that the library is critical. … It really does make for a better lawyer if you have a library to learn in.”

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