A law librarian is an information professional who specializes in the development and management of legal reference collections as well as assisting patrons in finding the information that they need. There are several different types of law or legal libraries, so the work of the law librarian and will vary according to the context in which he or she works. Typical workplaces for legal librarians include law firms, schools, and both private and public organizations. These librarians are typically adept in the use of various legal databases and are often very familiar with legal terminology and procedures so as to more effectively complete reference tasks and provide research assistance.
Legal research is a complex area, which is why many organizations or libraries that focus on law or public policy hire a law librarian to manage their information resources and to assist with necessary research and reference tasks. Although the qualifications of a law librarian vary by jurisdiction, many librarians who specialize in legal issues hold degrees in both library science as well as law or political science. In some cases, a law librarian may be a licensed attorney in addition to being a librarian.
A law librarian who works in law office or organization may, depending on staff size, perform a wide range of duties. A smaller law practice or business may hire one librarian to manage an entire collection. In such cases, he may be responsible for the management of the entire library, including acquisitions, training, and reference support. Large practices and organizations may be able to afford a larger library staff, which may result in differing roles and responsibilities for each librarian or library aide. When working in a law practice or organization, librarians may regularly be called upon to provide research on legal issues as well as supplementary information that may be germane to specific cases or policy decisions.
Law school librarians typically operates large collections of legal books and journals as well as online legal databases. As is true of any academic librarian, this type of law librarian may have extensive collection management duties or, depending on the size of the library, may spend a great deal of time providing reference and research services. The law school librarian may also have instructional duties, teaching students and faculty how to perform legal research, familiarizing them with reference sources, and training the school community in the use of electronic reference sources.