Friday, January 28, 2011

Over the River and Through the Snow . . .

After nearly 15 years at the Boston College Law Library, where I have had the great privilege of working with our special collections in the library's Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room, I will be moving across the river. In February I will become the Harvard Law School Library's Manager of Historical and Special Collections, where I look forward to advancing the cause of rare books, art, and manuscripts with a team of talented and dedicated colleagues.

All of us, I daresay, first fall in love with special collections work because we love the "stuff" - the artifacts themselves. Then, because we love our treasures so much, we delve into our collections as often as we can. Soon, because we love them so much, we strive to share them with others any way we can think of: by cataloging them, processing them, digitizing them, writing about them, and - my favorite thing of all - bringing them into the classroom where we can share them in person. And before we know it, a decade has gone by and we have a career - one that inspires, delights and challenges us every single day.

Well, at least that's what happened to me. I am forever grateful for the opportunities I have been given to work with and develop our special collections and programs here at BC Law. In particular, I am grateful to Dan Coquillette: mentor, inspiration, great benefactor, and friend. He has been an angel to me, the library, the law school, and the university, and words cannot express my profound debt of gratitude.

I look forward to continuing the special collections adventure at Harvard, and from my new perch across the river I look forward to watching the continued growth and success of BC Law's special collections in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room.

Cheers, Karen Beck

New Exhibit: The Michael H. Hoeflich Collection of Roman Law Books

As readers of this blog may recall, we received a wonderful gift of Roman law books back in December 2009, when Michael H. Hoeflich, John H. & John M. Kane Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Kansas School of Law, donated his fine collection of antiquarian and modern Roman law books to the Boston College Law Library. Dating from 1536, the collection of nearly 300 titles includes both seminal and lesser-known works on Roman, civil, and canon law in Latin, German, French, and English. The collection is both broad and deep, reflecting Professor Hoeflich’s knowledge of and passion for Roman law, bibliography, and the bookmaker’s art. All of us at the Boston College Law School are deeply grateful to Professor Hoeflich for this wonderful gift.

The books on display include a selection of the rare and antiquarian titles. The exhibit will be on view through early June 2011. Please visit us if you can, but if you cannot, here are few highlights of some of the choicest items.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Announcing the Third Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition

The Legal History and Rare Books Section* (LH&RB) of the American Association of Law Libraries, in cooperation with Cengage Learning, announces the third annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition.

The competition is named in honor of Morris L. Cohen, late and beloved Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School. Professor Cohen was a leading scholar in the fields of legal research, rare books, and historical bibliography.

The purpose of the competition is to encourage scholarship in the areas of legal history, rare law books, and legal archives, and to acquaint students with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and law librarianship.

Eligibility: Students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, or related fields are eligible to enter the competition. Both full- and part-time students are eligible. Membership in AALL is not required.

Requirements: Essays may be on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives. The entry form and instructions are available at the LH&RB website: Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m., March 15, 2011. The winner will be announced by April 15.

Awards: The winner will receive a $500.00 prize from Cengage Learning and up to $1,000 for expenses associated with attendance at the AALL Annual Meeting. The runner-up will have the opportunity to publish the second-place essay in LH&RB’s online scholarly journal Unbound: An Annual Review of Legal History and Rare Books.

Please direct questions to Robert Mead at or Sarah Yates at

*Pictured: Hughes-Humphreys, the LHRB-SIS's Official Mascot.