History of the Kresge Library

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Kresge Law Library History

The Notre Dame Law Department was established in 1869. The first published mention of a law school library was not until twenty years later when the Columbia Law Times described the small library of 2500 volumes as “spacious, well-lighted” and “well-ventilated.”

In these early years, development of the law library’s collection and staff was slow. The Law School did not appoint the first law librarian, John Whitman, until 1925. His selection coincided with the Law School’s accreditation by the Association of American Law Schools. By 1930, after more than 60 years of existence, the library had only grown to 10,000 volumes. This modest collection did not require a large staff. In fact, in 1942, a single librarian, Lora Lashbrook, oversaw the entire operation – while serving concurrently as teacher of research methodology, Law School registrar, and secretary to both the dean and the faculty. Marie Lawrence succeeded to the post of librarian in 1945. She guided the collection for almost 25 years. At her retirement, the library stood at 69,000 volumes – still quite small by American Bar Association standards.

The enlargement of the library’s physical space in 1973 came under the leadership of the next librarian, Kathleen C. Farmann. Expansion and increased funding of the library, made possible in part by a gift from the Kresge Foundation, were welcomed but were nevertheless insufficient for the library’s continued growth. In 1985, the University committed itself to building a library that would support scholarship of the highest order, and it needed a librarian to spearhead that campaign. Roger F. Jacobs, then the Librarian of the U.S. Supreme Court, became the fifth Notre Dame law librarian. During his 25 years of leadership, library staff, seating, and shelf space more than doubled. The total physical area of the library increased by a third, and the collection grew to more than 640,000 volumes.

The progress of the past continues into the future under Ed Edmonds, who was appointed the sixth librarian in summer 2006. He is proud to welcome you to the newly renovated Kresge Law Library in Biolchini Hall of Law. Here a talented staff, quality collection, and superb physical facility unite to create a leading national research institution.

View a timeline (pdf file)
View the Biolchini Hall Dedication brochure – October 8, 2010 (pdf version)