Library Blog

Remembering and Preserving Our RWU Law Roots


The Law School along with the Law Library opened its doors 25 years ago this past August.  One hundred and eighty-five brave souls began their study of the law in a new building still being organized.  Faculty, staff, and administrators started in newly created positions.  So began the life and history of the Law School in 1993.

In the Library, a loyal and dedicated band of student workers complemented the small staff by helping unpack, process, shelve, and make the book collection available for use. In April 1996 as the first Commencement neared, the Library took time to recognize the contributions of sixteen of these students who started working in the library in fall of 1993, most of whom were about to graduate. Four of them had worked for the Library all three years.

For the ceremony, the Library borrowed a nautical tradition, that of a “plank owner.” A plank owner refers to a member of the ship’s original crew. The original crew had a special connection to the ship, represented by gifts of planks from the ship’s decking. The Library marked our students’ service by presenting them with planks made from wood left over after the installation of the library carrels.

This was just one of many events documented in the Law Library’s Archives Collection. With the start of the Law School, it became the Law Library’s responsibility to collect, hold, organize, and preserve the memories and records of events great and small. The library’s Catalog, Metadata, and Archives Librarian collects information related to events, programs, symposia, publications, organizations, and people related to the Law School. 

Acid-free paper, folders, and boxes preserve and organize archival materials.  The boxes, arranged in categories to aid retrieval, may also include a finding aid to assist the user in knowing what is specifically stored in that box.  Today, the library preserves many archives materials digitally.

With many born digital announcements and communications, the archives librarian must find ways to preserve this information so it is not lost to time or the volatility of technology.  One way is to create and save PDF files of born digital information on Docs@RWUEnhanced with librarian-created metadata describing their content, these uploaded files become accessible to people anywhere in the world.

Preserving the Law School’s history is as important as planning for the Law School’s future.  It inspires those to come. Many thanks to those early pioneers--students, faculty, and staff--who braved a new world to make the Law School what it is today.  Thankfully, the memory of the past 25 years has been preserved in the Library’s Archives Collection. It provides the connection to those pioneers for future generations.

Library Blog