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Law and Law-Related Materials in Van Pelt Library

I. Program Information

Although Biddle Law School and its library represent the primary clientele and collection concerned with law materials on campus, other collections include some of this material as well. Van Pelt Library's collection of law-related materials serves a broad clientele, the majority of whom are in the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), including the Fels Center of Government, the School of Social Work, the Graduate School of Education, and the City and Regional Planning Department within the Graduate School of Fine Arts. Relevant SAS departments and programs include Political Sciences, its joint programs with International Studies (M.A./MBA degree), Conflict Analysis and Peace Science (M.A. and Ph.D.), History, the History and Public Policy program, Sociology (especially its interest in criminology and social control), and Urban Studies. Included also is the Institute for Law and Economics (a joint center composed of the Economics Department, Law School, and Wharton).

II. Collection Description

Van Pelt's collection of law and law-related materials is broader in nature than others on campus, although it includes some specialized materials as well. Many of the more general publications are interdisciplinary in scope with a focus on "law and ..." where the legal subject is set in a strong economic, social, political, or historical context. Topics such as human and civil rights, criminology, disarmament, urban and environment studies, international studies, and the historical dimensions of the law are all included. materials concerning constitutional amendments (actual or proposed) and Supreme Court cases are of special interest. Van Pelt subscribes to approximately 25 law periodicals, the majority in the area of sociological jurisprudence. A number of these have an international focus and concern legislation or the administration of justice in other countries or regions of the world.

More specialized and primary materials are also available, mainly from the depository programs of several different government and intergovernmental organizations and through electronic access to online systems. These documents collections are described in the United States Government Information and Foreign and International Governmental Organization Government Documents policies.

For United States law and its administration, Van Pelt's collection includes United States Code, Federal Register, current House and Senate reports and documents and the complete Serial Set, current and historic hearings, bills, Statutes at Large, Congressional Record, and United States Reports. These appear in various formats with a number being housed in Van Pelt Reference.

As the Penn Library is also a depository for United Nations and European Community documents, Van Pelt Library has a share of the law and law-related materials from these international organizations. Other intra- and international law and supporting reference materials are selectively purchased and generally complement the collections held by Biddle Law Library. The East Asian bibliographer collects some law codes of Japan and China. Islamic law is collected by the Middle Eastern bibliographer and selected ancient and modern Indian law by the South Asian bibliographer.

Relevant United States state documents and those of other countries are also purchased. Supporting materials for all of these collections include legal encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, and handbooks mainly aimed at the educated layperson. Finally, the Lea Library, a component of the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, shares support for canon law.

The online fulltext database LEXIS/NEXIS Academic Universe provides access to the primary sources -- legal codes and statutes, case law, records of legislative proceedings, and hearing transcripts -- and secondary materials (e.g., law review articles) needed for in-depth legal research. Additional online fulltext resources for legal research include Congressional Universe, GPO Access, THOMAS (Library of Congress), and Dow Jones Interactive. The principal online bibliographic tools for legal research include Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, World Law Index, GLOBUS, as well as NCJRS Abstracts Database and Public Affairs Information Service (PAIS). Biddle Law Library provides additional access through its in-library online subscription to Wilson Index to Legal Periodicals.

III. Guidelines for Collection Development

There are no chronological or geographic limitations for the material that is collected. In principle, all languages may be included, although English- language publications dominate the collection. The primary focus is on currently-published material with attention also being paid to requests for purchase of older publications that fill gaps in the collection. The primary sources of Van Pelt's collection include the depository programs of several different government and intergovernmental organizations, online systems such as LEXIS/NEXIS Academic Universe, and the purchase of a limited number of books and serials.

  1. Chronological

  2. Formats

  3. Geographical

  4. Language

  5. Publication Dates

IV. Principal Sources of Supply and major Selection Tools

V. Subjects Collected and Levels of Collecting

 

VI. Subjects Excluded

VII. Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections

In addition to Biddle, several other libraries on campus collect law and law- related materials. The Wharton School's Lippincott Library shares responsibility with Biddle for commercial law. It also purchases materials in the areas of government regulations of business, labor and employment law, securities regulations, accounting curriculum (taxation), and white-collar crime. The Library of the Annenberg School for Communication selectively purchases materials on freedom of expression and information, legal studies of telecommunications (especially satellites, telephones, computers, etc.), and government policy and regulation concerning all forms of media -- print, television, etc. The Biomedical and Engineering Libraries collect a minimal amount of law-related material for their clientele. The Fine Arts Library selectively collects law as it pertains to art and architecture, including building codes.

Jenkins Memorial Law Library, located at 841 Chestnut Street, in center city Philadelphia, is the nation's oldest law library. As a working law library (rather than an academic one) with strong ties to the Philadelphia Bar Association and the City of Philadelphia, Jenkins provides the best collection of both current legal primary sources and current and historical Philadelphia and Pennsylvania legal primary sources in the Delaware Valley. The Free Library's Government Publications Department, as the depository for City of Philadelphia publications, holds an excellent historic and current collection of Philadelphia City Council materials.

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