What’s Queen’s Doing to Its Library?

A law library is central to a law school.

Pretty unarguable proposition I would have thought.

Students have to have a library to learn. Faculty to teach and write.

That’s why I can’t understand the story told in the Queen’s Journal this week under the headline Future uncertain for law library.

Like many universities, Queen’s has had to make regular operational budget cuts. But Queen’s isn’t a tiny school and serving the needs of 30 full-time law faculty and about 500 law students, can’t be easily done with the six and a half full-time staff at the Lederman Law Library, named after Bill Lederman, Queen’s first dean, and a great constitutional law scholar.

Head Librarian Nancy McCormack commented to the Queen’s Journal:

The entire library system has been really cut. 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.

How far can one cut a budget – and slash staffing – before it interferes with the work of the law school?

And how close is Queen’s to that edge?


  1. How many new students will a law school attract if it doesn’t have a proper library?

  2. I’m not sure that some students now even use a library. For the last few years, we’ve had students who have no idea what the O.R.’s or D.L.R.,’s are, let alone where to find them in the library. They seem blissfully unaware of texts or journals.

  3. This will just compound the problem, then.

  4. I wonder what the plan is – will the law librarians become part of the staff of the main library? I have a little trouble imagining no legal research specialists at all. If Nancy and the rest of the staff become specialists inside the main library, perhaps they will bring their knowledge and skills to a broader audience, making the Queen’s student body more legally literate than average. Or maybe Queen’s is on the verge of an ugly mistake.

  5. Ugly mistake.