Today in Legal History: First Librarian of Congress Appointed

On January 29, 1802, President Thomas Jefferson appointed John J. Beckley as the first Librarian of Congress. Beckley was a political supporter of Jefferson and campaigned on his behalf. Beckley served as both the Clerk of the House of Representatives and as the Librarian of Congress. His salary as Librarian could not exceed two dollars a day.

More information is available at:


“Have you checked the catalogue?”


While we don’t have an awesome robot to remind you to check what we call the “catalog” (our previous requests have been denied), we do have awesome reference librarians who can also assist you with your research questions. If you are faculty, staff, or student at the law school, you can email or call us. You can also stop by the reference desk on the main floor of the library. We promise not to bite.

25 Vintage Photos of Librarians Being Awesome – Flavorwire


Damage to Library Material

4558635016_5c2e11ce18_nIn the past, library personnel have uncovered materials that have been damaged (e.g. barcodes, call numbers, and reserve stickers removed from study aids).  We have also found sections of popular legal treatise ripped or removed from books.  The library’s mission is to provide the broadest possible access to material for our patrons at the lowest cost.  Please help us ensure access to resources for everyone by handling materials with care.  Let us know if you run across any material that is missing or needs to be replaced or repaired.


The First Librarian for the Library of Congress

For the first two years of its existence, from 1800 to 1802, the Library of Congress operated without a librarian. Initially, head librarians at the Library of Congress were appointed by the president and they were allowed to serve for life. In 1802, Thomas Jefferson appointed John J. Beckley to be the first librarian for the Library of Congress. Like many early presidential appointees, Mr. Beckley was active in early American Politics. Prior to assuming his position as librarian, John J. Beckley served as the campaign manager for Thomas Jefferson in the highly contentious presidential campaign of 1800. John J Beckley served as the head librarian until the time of his death in 1807. See the Library of Congress website for more reading on John J. Beckley and other Library of Congress librarians.


Reference Services

The Reference Desk is located to the left as you enter the Library. This desk is staffed by experienced reference librarians who are available to assist you in formulating research strategies and techniques, help you locate appropriate materials and resources, and teach you how to use legal resources in all formats.  If you can’t stop by the reference desk in person, you can reach the reference desk by phone at 206-398-4225 or you can also use our e-mail reference service.  With the e-mail reference service, you may e-mail a question and a reference librarian will answer it, generally within one business day. We provide assistance with legal research information, not legal advice or analysis.


Welcome Back Law Librarian Pegeen Mulhern!

Law librarian Pegeen Mulhern has once again agreed to serve as a temporary, part-time reference librarian while one of our librarians (Kelly Kunsch) is on spring sabbatical. For those of you who do not know Pegeen, here is a little bit of background information. Pegeen has a JD from Boston College Law School, where she was Editor in Chief of the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review, and a MLIS from University of Washington. Prior to entering the law librarianship profession, Pegeen was an Associate Attorney at Lane Powell (’91-’92) and Garvey Schubert (’93-’00), and continues to maintain a solo maritime practice.

With a Monday through Wednesday schedule, Pegeen will be staffing the reference desk and working on specific research projects throughout the semester. When not at the reference desk, you can find Pegeen in Rm. 307C, or reach her at ext. 4191.


Library Trivia: Batgirl was a Librarian

Libraries and librarians frequently appear in comics and cartoons. Did you know that Barbara Gordon, Batgirl, led a dual life? By day, she was the commissioner’s daughter and the head librarian for the Gotham City Library. By night, she became Batgirl, utilizing her research prowess, photographic memory, brown belt in judo, and other athletic talents to fight crime. For more, click on:


Library Trivia: The Librarian (not the one with Noah Wyle)

Want to know what libraries and librarians were like in 1940s? Take a peek at the film, The Librarian, by Holmes (Burton) Films, Inc.


Librarian appointed to American Executive Board of the Chinese American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries

Kara Phillips, Collection Development Librarian/Associate Director, has been appointed a member of the American Executive Board (AEB) of the Chinese – American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries (CAFLL). CAFLL was established to develop a mutual and long-term relationship between legal information institutions of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States of America (USA) and to promote, plan and coordinate legal information and law library exchange activities between the two countries.