February 8, 2006 Library of Congress Publishes Illustrated Guide to Law Library Collections

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022

The Library of Congress has recently published another in its series of collection guides, “Library of Congress Law Library: An Illustrated Guide,” by Natalie Gawdiak and Jolande Goldberg.

“The Library’s collections are a premier source of information on law, whether on current legislation or some aspect of the legal heritage of the United States or of other nations,” said Rubens Medina, Law Librarian of Congress. “The treasures depicted in these pages will remain timeless reminders of the richness and diversity of the world’s legacy of law.”

Founded in 1832 by an act of Congress, the Law Library began with a collection of approximately 2,000 volumes for use by Congress and justices of the Supreme Court. Today the collection comprises more than 2 million items—more than half in foreign languages—and is accessible to members of Congress, judicial and executive branch agencies, researchers and members of the public. Portions of the collection are accessible on the Library’s Web site at www.loc.gov/law.

The guide spans the Library’s incomparable collections, from general law and forms of legal literature to the legal specialties of religious law, the law of indigenous peoples, and Asian and African law. It also introduces the layman to long-established legal structures that touch everyone’s lives today, including works that laid the foundations for civil law and common law systems. Lastly, the guide includes a chapter on international law that ends with a discussion of the field of humanitarian law, which emerged during the past 150 years.

The guide notes that in addition to the Law Library of Congress—the world’s largest law library—researchers may also consult one or more of the Library’s 21 reading rooms to locate legal materials in various formats. For example, the Library’s holdings include 250 volumes of law-related incunabula (pre-1501 printed books) in the Library’s Rare Book and Special Collections Division, posters used to sway public opinion on various legal issues (Prints and Photographs Division), maps that support land claims (Geography and Map Division) and a large number of copies of the Koran and other works on Islam (African and Middle Eastern Division). Taken as a whole, the Library’s vast holdings document the world’s legal heritage from ancient to modern times.

Made possible by support from the James Madison Council, a national, private-sector advisory group dedicated to helping the Library of Congress share its unique resources with the nation and the world, the illustrated guides to the Library’s collections feature materials in various formats. They include guides to the Library’s collections of manuscripts; prints and photographs; rare books; cartographic materials; music, theater and dance; and motion pictures, broadcasting and recorded sound. Other guides cover collections of European; Asian; African and Middle Eastern; Hispanic and Portuguese; and the American Folklife Center materials.

The guide was prepared under the direction of Law Librarian of Congress Rubens Medina. Natalie Gawdiak was formerly an editor in the Law Library of Congress. Jolande Goldberg is a senior cataloging policy specialist for law classification in the Library’s Cataloging Policy and Support Office.

“Library of Congress Law Library: An Illustrated Guide,” a 176-page softcover book with 86 illustrations, is available for $25 from the Library of Congress Sales Shop, Washington, DC 20540-4985. Credit card orders are taken at (888) 682-3557. Online orders can be placed at www.loc.gov/shop.


PR 06-035
ISSN 0731-3527