Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Visitors Get Rare Look at Expanse of County’s Law Library
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Los Angeles law library on Friday celebrated its 120th anniversary with a series of guided tours through its archives.
As Ralph Stahlberg, the director of reference and research, led a small group through the library, he explained that the vast majority of the library’s 700,000-tome collection is contained on the four floors above the main level—which is actually the third floor of a seven-story building—where members of the public are ordinarily not allowed.
It is the second largest public law library in the nation—dwarfed only by that of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
Stahlberg said the facility spans 175,000 square feet, and houses nearly 35 miles of shelving holding collections of codes, cases, legal treatises, encyclopedias, form books, appellate briefs, legislative history information, law reviews, magazines and newspapers dating back to the late 1700s.
Among those following Stahlberg through the stacks was Deputy District Attorney Jane Blissert, who remarked that she “learned about some things [she] might be able to use” in her practice, that she had not known were available at the library. Additionally, while perhaps not useful to her, Blissert said she found the library’s collection of international materials fascinating as well.
About 40 percent of the library’s content is comprised of materials from 250 foreign countries.
Rancho Cucamonga lawyer Damian Garcia, another tour participant, marveled that the library “has everything from ‘Sex and Reason’ to Soviet law from provinces we couldn’t even pronounce,” referencing a book title which drew closer looks and laughs from him and others on the tour.
“To have all that information…is just unreal,” Garcia said.
Ruth Reyes, a paralegal from Pasadena, said she enjoyed learning about the history of the library on the tour, as well as what was contained on its shelves, as an alternative to always utilizing online resources for conducting research.
For those who prefer online research databases, Stahlberg pointed out computer terminals available in the reading room, which provide up to two hours of free access to Westlaw and LexisNexis. The library also has electric typewriters, tucked in a corner behind the computers, Stahlberg said, but those cost 50 cents to use.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company