Fineman & Pappas Law Libraries Collection Development Policy

1 Goals and Mission

The principal mission of the law libraries in collecting and maintaining library resources is to support the instructional and research needs of our primary patrons: the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the Boston University School of Law. We strive to provide our students with access to the materials they need to have a successful law school experience. 

The Fineman and Pappas Law Libraries are committed to antiracism. Our full antiracism statement is available on our website and is incorporated by reference. We commit to inclusion of historically underrepresented viewpoints. We will purchase materials on topics related to antiracism, including but not limited to race and the law, Indigenous Americans and the law, criminal justice, law and the social sciences, and prison and punishment. We will correct outdated and racist subject headings as new materials are added to the collection.  We will track new additions and regularly analyze our progress. We will also regularly revisit our antiracism statement and this policy to ensure we are following best practices and continually work to correct the historical racism inherent in our collection. 

The Fineman and Pappas Law Libraries are also committed to accessibility for all of our patrons. Our accessibility statement is on our website and is incorporated by reference. If any library user needs assistance using our collection they should fill out the assistance form, email, or call (617) 353-3151. 

The mission of the law libraries also extends to the wider Boston University community. Boston University encourages interdisciplinary approaches to scholarship and learning, with many formal and informal bridges between departments and schools. Because almost any field of study can have a legal component, the law school is an active participant in Boston University’s interdisciplinary programs and initiatives. As a result, the law libraries serve not only the law faculty and students but the entire Boston University community. Our collections provide access to a broad range of resources on law and on law’s intersections with other disciplines.

In addition to developing its own electronic and print collections, the law libraries actively participate in campus, regional, and national programs for cooperative collection sharing and development, including various consortia. Campus-wide access to legal literature, increasingly via electronic databases, is provided through cooperative arrangements with other Boston University Libraries.

The goals of this policy are:

  1. To document the current collection philosophies, policies, and practices for the law libraries.
  2. To provide guidance to all those involved in developing the collection.
  3. To inform law libraries’ staff, law school administrators, faculty, and students of the collection emphases and criteria for evaluating new materials and formats.
  4. To provide guidance for deselection decisions.

2 Criteria and Process

2.1     Selection Criteria

The law librarians should take the following into account when considering resources to add to the collection:

  • Subject area, including the following:
    • Likelihood of use
    • Importance to the law school curriculum, program emphases, and faculty scholarship
    • Importance to collection
    • Current and permanent value
    • Whether the subject is a hot topic, and if so, what this title will add to the collection
  • The author’s reputation, including the following:
    • Whether they are a scholar or the institution they work for 
    • Their expertise in a topic 
    • The author’s personal connection to the subject, including any conflicts of interest 
    • Whether the author provides citations to authoritative sources, or their arguments are based more on opinion/less tested findings
    • Whether they represent a historically underrepresented viewpoint or would help represent a diverse range of opinions from our existing materials 
    • Whether they are a minority voice 
    • What other materials they have published
  • Authoritativeness of title
  • Reputation of publisher
  • Initial cost
  • Maintenance of resource, including monetary cost and staff time
  • Currency of resource and frequency of updates
  • Duplication of material in our collection and elsewhere on campus
  • Long-term access to material and preservation issues
  • Format, including user interface if the format is electronic
  • Scarcity of material
  • Space within the library

2.2    Scope of coverage

The law libraries provide access to primary materials for the United States federal government and all fifty states, with a particular collection emphasis on primary materials for the United States federal government, Massachusetts, and a small group of core states. These include Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, California, and New York. In addition, the law libraries may collect materials for states where the law is either unique or influential, e.g., Delaware law of corporations. We collect most extensively in Massachusetts and at the federal level. 

The law libraries also collect foreign, comparative, and international legal materials. These collections are based on the needs of the law school curriculum, students, and faculty. We focus on the subject areas listed below and collect primarily comparative and international law. We also collect materials related to indigenous peoples law. 

The law libraries collect in a wide range of subject areas based on the needs and foci of the law school curriculum, student needs, and faculty research. We also take into account the needs of the Boston University community and interdisciplinary topics as they intersect with law. We collect most heavily in the following areas based on the law school’s current programs and emphases:

  • Antiracist studies
  • Banking and financial law
  • Corporate, business, and transactional law
  • Health law
  • Intellectual property law
  • Race and the law
  • Tax law

In addition, we primarily collect in the following areas, based on the law school’s current areas of study.

  • Administrative, regulatory, and public law
  • Civil litigation and alternative dispute resolution
  • Civil rights and constitutional law
  • Criminal law
  • Employment and labor law
  • Entertainment and sports law
  • Environmental law
  • Family law, gender, and sexuality
  • Housing, real estate, and land use
  • Immigration and human rights law
  • International and comparative law
  • Legal history and jurisprudence
  • Privacy and technology law

We also regularly refer to the web page maintained by the law school that discusses current areas of study and regularly review the other programs the law school offers, including LLM programs, dual degrees, online certificates, clinics, JD concentrations, and journals to update this policy. The law libraries also support the various centers and institutes at the law school.

2.3     Choice of Format

Legal information is published in a variety of electronic formats, as well as print and microform. Increasingly, the law libraries rely on electronic resources in order to provide broader access to information, and enhanced searching and retrieval capabilities. When reviewing resources, the law librarians consider what format is most appropriate for the resource. Factors to consider include ease of use in print and electronic formats, user preference, cost, method of access, space considerations, preservation options for electronic materials, accessibility of materials, and whether the resource can be used for distance education.

2.3.1    Replacements

The law libraries attempt to replace materials that are missing or damaged. Replacement decisions are based on the importance of the title, other titles in the collection on the same topic, and duplication of the title in other formats and locations. Patrons who identify missing items should contact the circulation desk in person, via phone (6173533151), or by email at 

2.3.2    Microform

The law libraries collect materials in microform very selectively for infrequently used materials, mainly as a duplicate format and to provide permanent access for materials such as records and briefs, legal newspapers, and selected documents from the U.S. government and international organizations. The law libraries will select a microform version of a title when it is not available electronically at a reasonable price; the size, expense, infrequency of use, or unavailability precludes its addition in print; or permanent copies would be bulky or subject to deterioration in print.

2.3.3    Audio and Visual

Audio and video materials are occasionally acquired, often at the special request of faculty members. The law libraries may purchase the item if available in CD or DVD format and reasonably priced. The law libraries may also purchase a streaming license for materials as appropriate. 

2.3.4    Periodicals and Treatises

The law libraries provide access to continuing resources, including treatises and periodicals, in print and electronically. Our preference is for electronic resources to provide the greatest ease of access to the largest number of patrons.We will collect the resource in print based on facility of use, user preference, unavailability of an electronic version, and ease of access. We will collect the resource in print based on facility of use, user preference, unavailability of an electronic version, and ease of access. We provide access to a large percentage of our periodicals and treatises online through services such as HeinOnline, BloombergLaw, VitalLaw, Westlaw Edge, Lexis+, and other databases. While we try to collect for the University as a whole, at times we are only able to provide access to the law school community.

2.3.5     Duplication

The library avoids duplication of material when possible unless duplication is warranted due to the popularity or importance of a title, use of a title by a class, or multiple faculty requests. Duplication may also occur with print materials and electronic materials, especially as the library moves towards book packages and large research databases and to ensure access to as many patrons as possible. Duplication may also occur with our collection and the collections of other Boston University libraries. 

2.4    Deselection

The law libraries are committed to building a current and retrospective scholarly legal research collection in print and electronic formats. The collection development process involves decisions not only about what to acquire, but also what to retain, withdraw or move from active areas of the collection to storage. The print collection is continually reviewed to decide what can be withdrawn or relocated to reflect changes in institutional goals or programs, availability in electronic formats, usage, space limitations, increasing cost, duplication, obsolescence, and the condition of materials.

2.5     Gifts

The law libraries accept gifts that fit within the collection guidelines. Duplicate copies or replacement copies are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Factors considered in determining whether to accept gifts include the value to the collection, the condition of the materials, the affiliation of the donor, and whether the gift will require updating or other expenditure of funds.

The law libraries generally accept donations with the understanding that no conditions be attached to the donated materials. The law libraries will determine the classification, housing and circulation of all gift items and retains the flexibility to dispose of gifts at any time and in a manner deemed appropriate. Gift items may be given a bookplate to identify the donor on the inside cover as requested by the donor.

Monetary donations are also welcomed and can be used to develop the collection in specific areas. All inquiries about gift donations, policies and procedures should be referred to the Associate Director for Systems and Collection Services.

3 Collections

3.1     Reserve and Reference Desk Collections

The law libraries will add certain types of print materials to the permanent reserves collection, e.g. substantive study aids and dictionaries. The Reserve collection includes current legal research and writing materials acquired by the libraries.

Additionally, the law libraries maintain a course reserves collection. These materials are temporarily housed in the reserve collection to support the direct needs of course instruction. Materials are requested by faculty through direct communication with library staff or through bookstore lists for required and recommended materials. Quantities are determined by class size and anticipated faculty use. Current supplementation is purchased for casebooks on reserve, if available. We do not purchase statutory supplements for course reserves. Unless expressly requested by faculty, teacher’s manuals are not purchased. The law libraries will order online-only resources for reserves as appropriate. The library primarily collects study aids in electronic format whenever possible for ease of student access.

Personal copies (non-library owned materials) are placed on reserve at the request of faculty. All personal copies are returned to the faculty member at the end of the course.

3.2     Law School Archives

The law libraries maintain a collection of Boston University School of Law materials produced by and about the law school. The collection includes alumni magazines and directories, course listings, school catalogs, faculty bibliographies, photo books, periodicals, ephemera, etc. Limited physical and/or digital memorabilia, such as programs for memorial services and law school events, are also collected.

Faculty and alumni writings are in the main library collection and not in the archives, unless the physical condition lends itself to archival treatment. Faculty writings are also uploaded to Scholarly Commons, the law school’s institutional repository. 

3.3     Special Collections

3.3.1     Institute of Jewish Law

Professor Neil Hecht donated all material from the Institute of Jewish Law to the law libraries. We house those materials along with more recent Jewish law donations from other faculty.  

3.3.2     Sagall Library of Law, Medicine, & Health Care

We house the Elliot L. and Annette Y. Sagall Library and Law, Medicine, & Health Care as part of an agreement with the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics. The library is made up of over 1,300 volumes and is comprised of books, pamphlets, periodicals, legal decisions, and reference materials. Each volume in the collection has a book plate identifying it as part of this special collection. 

3.4     Clinics and Greater Boston Legal Services

Books and materials to support the clinical programs are collected as part of our regular collection development process. In addition, the law libraries, in coordination with the clinical programs, purchases materials for a small library of practice materials in the clinical offices in the law school and their offices in downtown Boston at Greater Boston Legal Services. Selection of titles is done by staff of the law libraries, in consultation with clinical faculty and program directors.

3.5     Office and Personal Copies

The law libraries generally do not purchase copies of titles for faculty offices due to expense and the limitations on access. If the cost is reasonable, materials requested for long-term office use are purchased and cataloged for the library collection and checked out to the faculty member interested in the title.

The law libraries’ acquisitions staff will order personal copies for faculty members when they are difficult to obtain or are needed on a rush basis. Faculty members reimburse the law libraries for these orders. Personal copies of continuations are not ordered by the libraries.

Upon request, and with the approval of the Director, the law libraries will purchase a title for a law school departmental office. The law libraries will purchase a small number of current legal directories and other resources for the Career Development Office.

4 Updating this Policy

This policy will be regularly updated by the Associate Director for Systems and Collection Services, working in conjunction with other law librarians and staff of the law libraries. Through regular reviews of law school programs, the law school curriculum, student needs, and faculty scholarship, the staff of the law libraries shall ensure that its collections are meeting the needs of the law school.

The law librarians anticipate that this policy will shift over time to reflect changing needs and attitudes towards material format and subject matter. It is vital that the law libraries and this policy remain flexible and change with the needs of our patrons.