Sunday, August 14, 2011

Middle Temple Library

Little do we know, but Middle Temple has a deep relationship with our young little nation. Middle Temple taught several of the brilliant minds who decided one day to write this silly document called the Declaration of Independence. As a result of this special relationship, Middle Temple Library has an American Law collection. It was built after WWII and one of the largest collections on law in the United States. There is an interesting collection relating to the issues of capital punishment which was donated by an individual who was opposed to the death penalty. The collections are used by English practitioners, commercial lawyers and researchers. Among the publications the library collects are the Harvard Law Review and Notre Dame Law Journal.

The library was founded by Robert Ashley when he donated his own personal library. This collection consisted of 4,000 items including 80 volumes from John Donne’s personal library.

The building where the library is located was built in the 1950’s after the war. The architect was so paranoid about the building getting bombed that it was constructed using reinforced concrete. Over the last few years, some of the rooms have been converted to make space for meeting facilities. The librarian I spoke with expressed his opinion that this is a positive move for the library as it will bring more people in the doors and spread awareness of the library. Some of his colleagues disagree however.

Materials from the library include journals, reference books, trials and ecclesiastical law from the US, EU, Scotland and Ireland. You finicky librarians out there are going to cringe about this little fact nugget but there is no classification scheme. Not to worry though, the librarians seem to manage the collections just fine using alphabetic organization. There are no subject areas so there is no confusion. All editions of text books are kept so that precedent could be traced.

 Noteworthy honorary members of Middle Temple include Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Raleigh, and the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.

*The amazing display cap above is by Jessica Hische, an amazing designer I came across in my perpetual search for awesome design and typography. The letter comes from her Daily Drop Cap project.

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