About the Law Library
The Robert S. Marx Library serves the research and legal information needs of the College of Law. It "embraces the educational and scholarly missions of the University of Cincinnati College of Law by providing high quality access to information resources and by offering comprehensive information services to the college and its extended community." The library's namesake was the founder of the Disabled American Veterans. He was a graduate of Cincinnati Law School, a highly successful Cincinnati attorney, and a judge of the Cincinnati Superior Court. He also taught at the College of Law, and was an early proponent of skills training, having developed a course on "Facts" during the 1950's. He endowed the Marx Lecture Series, and his estate endowed the construction of a new library building in the early 1960's.
When Timothy Walker, a protégé of Justice Joseph Story, Dane Professor of Law at Harvard, Edward King, a graduate of Litchfield Law School, and Ohio Supreme Court Judge John C. Wright founded the Cincinnati Law School in 1833, the Law School held the distinction of having the largest law faculty in the country. It was common practice at the time for law professors to make their personal libraries available to their students. The first prospectus of the new law school, appearing in Cincinnati papers in 1833, proclaimed that the Law School had "as extensive a law library as any in the western territory." The claim was probably true for two reasons: (1) there were no other law schools west of the Allegheny Mountains, and (2) contemporary western law practices rarely had more than two attorneys, both sharing office space and their usually meager collection of law books.
Law library holdings grew and shrank with the addition and departure of faculty members in the nineteenth century. Fires twice destroyed buildings that housed the law school, first in 1845 and again in 1869. Each time, donated materials from the Cincinnati legal community and special expenditures from the Law School replenished that part of the library collection which was stored in a common room; professors still preferred to buy their law books themselves and keep them in their offices. The Law Library was officially created by the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati College in 1874, some 41 years after the Cincinnati Law School opened.
In 1895, then Dean William Howard Taft (Class of 1880) introduced the "Harvard method" of teaching at the Cincinnati Law School. By "Harvard method," Dean Taft was referring to the case method as a pedagogical device practiced by Harvard Law School Dean Christopher Columbus Langdell,and popularized by his successor, James Barr Ames, who transformed it into the Socratic method we know today. Langdell also promoted the case method as necessary to the teaching of law as a science. Dean Taft met with faculty resistance on both fronts. Nevertheless, the importance of the law library rose to new heights. As the place where a specialized body of source materials -- case reports -- resided, the law library became the "laboratory" for Langdellian legal science. "The library is the proper workshop of professors and students alike," wrote Langdell.
The law library grew with law reports—not just Ohio law reports, but with volumes of the National Reporter System which the West Publishing Company began publishing in the late 1880s, plus scholarly works produced by a generation of Langdellian-trained law professors. We can credit Chief Justice Taft with moving our law library to center stage. In 1903, the law library relocated to the Law School's first purpose-built building. The library reading room seated 300 and the collection numbered 12,000 volumes.
From 1888 to 1927, the administration of the Law Library was handled by the Dean and faculty through a Standing Committee on the Library. Since then, the Law Library has been directed by seven law librarians, the last four holding professional degrees in librarianship, some also holding law degrees and advanced degrees in business administration.
- Alfred K. Morrison (1927-1949)
- Robert Mace (1949-1956)
- William Jeffrey, Jr. (1956-1976)
- Jorge Carro (1976-1986)
- Taylor Fitchett (1986-1998)
- Virginia C. Thomas (1998-2009)
- Kenneth J. Hirsh (2009-2019)
- Michael Whiteman (2019-)
A Sense of Place. The Law Library provides 24/7 access to our law students and faculty. The Law Library strives to create innovative solutions to accommodate collection growth and diversity.