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Duke Law Library at the Crossroads
by Jennifer L. Behrens
Head of Reference Services and Acting Interim Director
J. Michael Goodson Law Library, Duke University School of Law

“You might see me on your crossroads when I’m a-passin’ through
Remember me how you wish to as I’m a-driftin’ from your view
I ain't got the time to think about it, I got too much to get done
And I'm a long time comin' an' I'll be a long time gone.”
Bob Dylan, “Long Time Gone” (1963)[1]

A Life in Law Librarianship


On February 22, 2018, Duke Law School’s longtime Senior Associate Dean for Information Services Richard “Dick” Danner passed away at the age of 70. As Director of Duke’s Law Library from 1981 until his retirement in June 2017, Dick left an indelible legacy on the field of law librarianship. In a tribute of sorts, this month’s “Featured Library” column provides an overview of the many unique features, services, and initiatives at the library that Dick Danner led for decades.

Image of Dick Danner, courtesy of Duke Law School

The J. Michael Goodson Law Library at Duke occupies space on all four floors of the Law School building. Current Law School students, faculty, and staff enjoy 24-hour card-swipe access to both the Law School and Law Library entrances, making the library a vibrant place to visit at any time of day or night.
A unified service desk, staffed by members of the library’s Circulation and Reference departments (as well as by the library’s sister department, Academic Technologies), is open until 8:00 p.m. on weeknights and 5:00 p.m. on weekends. Library service desk hours correspond to card-swipe access hours for the larger Duke University community; the public may also visit the Law Library during Law School business hours (weekdays 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.).
Outside of staffing hours, law students might study in the library’s quiet spaces, work together in designated collaborative areas (such as the conversation-friendly Reading Room), or browse the open stacks. A university-wide self-checkout smartphone app allows after-hours Law Library users to borrow items when the Circulation/Reserve desk is closed – or even if it’s open.
The Goodson Law Library reading room and mezzanine are collaborative areas where conversation is permitted. Our unified service desk is visible in the background of this photograph. Photo courtesy of Duke Law School.

“Isn’t all of this online yet?” some people ask when viewing the library’s rows of print books and journals. Informed Librarian readers already know that the answer is, “Of course not!” While an ever-increasing number of library resources are available electronically, Duke’s Law Library still maintains a robust print collection of scholarly monographs, journals, and historical research materials, alongside its many subscription databases, online journals, and e-books. Law and law-related interdisciplinary subjects are the major focus of the collection, and the library collects broadly in both American and worldwide jurisdictions. Duke Law researchers may also access the resources within Duke University’s other campus libraries, as well as resources from the Triangle Research Libraries Network consortium of other university libraries in the Research Triangle of North Carolina.

Yes, there are still plenty of print materials - and people do still use them! Photo courtesy of Goodson Law Library.

The Marguerite F. and Floyd M. Riddick Rare Book and Special Collections Room is also used for class sessions and meetings. Photo courtesy of Duke Law School.

Over the years, Dick’s role as library director grew to include oversight of the Law School’s information technology operations. Under his leadership, the Law School incorporated state-of-the-art classroom technology, including in several teaching and training spaces within the Library. The newest such space was created during the last major library renovation in 2007-2008; originally known as the Digital Initiatives Lab, it was recently renamed the Tech Hub to better reflect its expanded mission to provide a collaborative workspace for the Law School community to discuss and explore emerging legal technologies.

Open Access
Dick Danner was instrumental in several Open Access initiatives at Duke Law. In 1998, Duke Law became the first American law school to provide the full text of its student-edited journals online. By 2005, Dick also oversaw the creation of the Duke Law Scholarship Repository, which provides free access to the full text of publications by Duke Law faculty, centers, and programs. In 2008, Dick led a team of law library directors in the drafting of the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, a call for law schools to replace print editions of their student-edited journals with open access electronic versions instead. Since the publication of the Durham Statement in February 2009, six of the Law School’s eight student-edited journals publish exclusively in open access electronic format.
The Library and Academic Technologies staff play various roles in the maintenance of the Scholarship Repository, and the oversight of the journal publications. Seven of the Law School’s student journals maintain office space within the Library.

Faculty Services
While the Law Library provides assistance to all students, staff, and the general public, additional services are available to the Law School faculty. These specialized services, coordinated by various library staff members, include:
Law School Instruction
Duke Law’s librarians also play a formal role in Law School instruction. Reference and other public services librarians serve as faculty within the first-year Legal Analysis, Research and Writing courses for JD and international LLM program students. Many library faculty also regularly offer advanced research courses within the Law School curriculum, focusing on specialized topics such as foreign, comparative and international law research; business law research; administrative law research; technology in law practice; and empirical research methods. These optional upper-level research offerings have increased over the last decade, corresponding with the growth of other courses designed to help prepare law students for the practical realities of lawyering.

The Road Goes on Forever
What’s the next chapter in the story of Duke’s J. Michael Goodson Law Library? The search is on for our next Associate Dean for Information Services, Data, and Technology. The Law School is also preparing to welcome its fifteenth Dean, Kerry Abrams, from the University of Virginia Law School this summer. Together, these two leaders will map the next destinations for the Duke Law School and its Goodson Law Library. We don’t yet know where the future will lead us, and it is bittersweet to be facing that future without Dick Danner. But we’re sure that he’d be pleased to hear his former staff members say: We’ll take it from here.
1 BOB DYLAN, THE LYRICS: SINCE 1962 39 (Christopher Ricks ed., 2014).

Copyright 2018 by Jennifer L. Behrens.
About the author: Jennifer L. Behrens has worked as a reference librarian and instructor at Duke Law since 2006, and became its Head of Reference Services in 2011. She is currently serving as Acting Interim Director of the library. She received her JD and MLS degrees from the University at Buffalo, where she previously worked as a Graduate Assistant in both its Charles B. Sears Law Library and its Lockwood Library’s former Business and Government Documents Reference Center.