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About the Law Library

Collection Development Policy



The portion of the H. Laddie Montague, Jr. Law Library Mission Statement relevant to collection development reads as follows:

The mission of the H. Laddie Montague, Jr. Law Library is to support the instructional and research efforts of the Dickinson Law faculty and students, specifically, and those of the greater Penn State University community, generally, by supplying access to, and support in the use of, all information resources, regardless of format or physical location, needed to support the School's high expectations for teaching excellence and significant scholarly productivity (drafted, November, 2007).


Library collection development is an art not a science. From past experience and knowledge of the interests of the library's users, it is possible to know with some certainty many of the resources they will need, but the needs and interests of the community are constantly changing with new faculty, new course offerings and the development of new subject areas in the field of law. To provide resources to meet the users' needs it is necessary that the selector of materials for the library make informed predictions as to what those needs will be. The collection should be developed so that the library has a broad coverage of the entire field of law and more complete coverage in areas where the curriculum and research interest of the community are intense. Some attention must also be paid to the preservation of resident collections so that they will be available to researchers in the future; however, as locally owned print and microform collection content is increasingly digitized, the Library intends to seize opportunities to deliver information in formats that de-emphasize the cost, space requirements, and delivery limitations of onsite ownership in favor of robust and highly portable digital access to that same information.

Selection Process

The Director of the Law Library has final responsibility for all Law Library activities, including guidance and oversight of all collection development policies and practices. The Law Library’s Acquisitions Department is responsible for day-to-day selection and acquisition activities including: supervision of all standing and blanket orders; service as the Law Library's primary liaison with most publishers and information suppliers; identification, recommendation, and ultimately ordering of new materials deemed to be of interest to School of Law researchers; and coordination with Penn State University Libraries' Acquisitions Department to regularly assess the appropriate level of collection development cooperation and to evaluate opportunities for resource sharing when it serves the mutual interests of the School of Law and the greater University. Additionally, the Department informs the School of Law faculty about newly published books and journals (through the electronic distribution of Hein's Greenslips, the Law Library's new titles web page, and access to the Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP) and its customized alert service, SmartCILP). Finally, all members of the Law Library faculty are encouraged to make recommendations, particularly in their areas of subject expertise, and to bring meritorious recommendations from students and other Law Library users to the Director of the Law Library or the Acquisitions Department (DickinsonLawLib@psu.edu) for purchase and licensing consideration.

As a limited federal depository library, the Law Library selects from those documents available using procedures outlined in its Government Documents Selection Policy (see below). Under the general oversight of the Director of the Law Library, the Government Documents manager is the Law Library's primary liaison with the Government Printing Office concerning our participation in the Federal Depository Library Program and is responsible for all selection, collection maintenance and recordkeeping concerning depository items added to the collection.

General Guidelines for Collection Development

  1. Access to, and not necessarily ownership of, information needed to support the research, scholarly, and teaching missions of the School of Law regardless of format and independent of physical location is the emerging focus of the Law Library's collection development activities. In the last five years, the Law Library has moved aggressively to collections in electronic form that can be delivered via the Web or other online format to users wherever they are located.  Although the Library will always take notice of information sources that are available in multiple formats (e.g., paper, microform, electronic), acquisitions of print materials are now concentrated on the dwindling number of titles that are not yet fully accessible in electronic form (in particular, treatises and monographs). Law Library acquisitions will choose electronic formats whenever beneficial to our users. 

    While core collections will still be held in print and in various microformats for the foreseeable future, the Law Library recognizes that the quality, content coverage, and site-independent availability of electronic collection resources are increasingly making it possible to supplant print and film resources whose contents are now digitized. As a consequence, the Law Library considers it a primary collection development goal to seek all reasonable opportunities to gain the instant access to core and secondary collections of incredible diversity and depth offered by digital collections while judiciously reducing its print and film holdings and purchases.

  2. The Library is obligated by its status as a U.S. Government Documents Depository Library to maintain the materials acquired through this program and make them available to the general public.
  3. The Library recognizes its reciprocal obligation to collect and preserve materials that will be of use to other libraries as we expect them to maintain materials upon which we rely. We have ongoing commitments to participate in cooperative arrangements with other libraries.
  1. The Law Library continuously re-evaluates this Collection Development Policy to meet the emerging and rapidly changing research, scholarly, and teaching interests of the School of Law.

    As of July, 2015, the collection criteria and selection guidelines listed below are in force and continue to guide most of the Law Library's collection development decisions.

    1. All Pennsylvania legal materials are acquired in print and are fully accessible in a variety of electronic, web-based formats. Where necessary, multiple copies, sufficient to meet the demand are acquired.
    2. Federal Materials: Access to all federal case decisions, all federal statutory materials, and all federal administrative regulations is offered in a variety of electronic, web-based formats that are available to authorized users regardless of their location.  A limited number of federal primary materials are still collected in paper.  Access to federal materials available over the internet is maintained on public use terminals. The Law Library is a partial U. S. Government Documents Depository Library. Selection of Depository materials is covered by a separate policy.
    3. Other States: Access to each state’s primary materials (official court reports, state codes, session laws, administrative codes, and attorneys general opinions) is offered in a variety of electronic, web-based formats.  State codes are obtained and updated in print for a small number of states geographically contiguous to Pennsylvania. Access to state secondary titles is typically restricted to those items that are available as part of one or more of the electronic collections that the Law Library subscribes to (e.g., Lexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline, etc.), however exceptions can be made in cases of compelling need to obtain a state secondary title in print
    4. Bar Association Materials: The Law Library subscribes to the American Bar Association Package Plan and state bar journals, which are accessible through its subscription to HeinOnline.  
    5. All of the West National Reporter System with Decennial, Regional, Pennsylvania and selected other states' digests are accessible electronically.  The Law Library purchases and updates the Pennsylvania Digest in print. The Law Library retains print archives of some NRS reporters and federal/state digests in print as a source of historical research, but also to illustrate legal publications in print to students in legal research classes. 
    6. Legal Periodicals: The Law Library relies on HeinOnline to deliver access to its growing number of essential law journals, retaining only the most recent year’s print versions of those journals available in our libraries to ensure that any lag or embargo period that delays HeinOnline from making the most recent journal content available does not delay our users’ access to the articles. The Law Library continues to obtain many journals in print that are not available on HeinOnline or some other electronic service.  This includes both domestic and international journals deemed of importance to the researchers at the School of Law. 
    7. Bibliographies and Indices: Basic acquisition tools (e.g., Books in Print, Standard Periodical Directory); standard legal bibliographies; periodical indices are acquired. The Library relies upon Shepard's and Keycite available on Lexis and Westlaw for citator searches and does not collect Shepard’s sets in print. Indices for UN Documents, European Union Documents, and U.S. Government Documents are acquired electronically where necessary or available freely on the Web.
    8. Hornbooks and Casebooks: All hornbooks are purchased (in multiple copies where demand warrants). Casebooks and other classroom materials are not collected unless little else is available on the subject.
    9. Treatises are purchased guided by the following emphasis in subject areas. Treatises which involve frequent and expensive updating unsupported by curricular needs or research interests are avoided.
      1. Subject areas of strong emphasis:
        1. ADR/Arbitration
        2. Advocacy
        3. Commercial Law
        4. Corporate/Business/Securities Law
        5. Constitutional Law - especially U.S. Supreme Court materials including biographies of Justices
        6. Human Rights
        7. International & Comparative Law
        8. Professional Responsibility - including comparative law materials
        9. Tax Law
      2. Subject areas of intermediate collection efforts:
        1. Children's Advocacy
        2. Elder Law
        3. Family Law
        4. Legislative & Regulatory Advocacy
        5. Medical-Legal Jurisprudence
        6. Native American Law
        7. All other subjects offered in the curriculum
      3. British and Commonwealth Materials: English statutes, case law, digest and materials of historical importance, as well as Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and other Commonwealth materials are accessible, primarily from various electronic, online sources to which the Law Library subscribes (e.g., English Reports, Making of Modern Law, Hein foreign law databases, Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg Law and various web-based sources. 
      4. Foreign Law: Access to cases, statutes, and secondary resources from foreign jurisdictions is achieved, primarily, through databases and web-based resources that the Law Library and Penn State University Libraries subscribe to (e.g., Hein Foreign and International Law, Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, Making of Modern Law, and the Constitutions of the Countries of the World.)  Newsletters in specific subject areas are not purchased except in unusual circumstances such as a lack of other sources of information in the field. Such circumstances include specific faculty projects or moot court competition problems.
      5. International Documents: United Nations, European Union and Unidroit materials are collected in digital or print formats.
      6. Looseleaf Services: at least one looseleaf service for each subject in the curriculum is acquired if such a service is available. These may be in paper, digital or both formats, if interest and use warrant.
      7. Computer Assisted Legal Research: The Law Library’s emphasis on electronic access to essential collections is supported by an increase in the number and quality of the electronic libraries to which we now subscribe. Adding to the rich content available through Lexis and Westlaw, the Law Library now provides authorized user access to Bloomberg Law, BNA-Bloomberg, CCH Business, Health, and Tax libraries, and dozens more electronic collections that, collectively, provide access to all core and most secondary materials to students, faculty, and staff, regardless of the user’s physical location.
      8. Every effort is made to acquire all materials necessary to support faculty research interests and to support those seminar subjects in which the students do intensive research.
      9. Clinic Library: Most clinic research needs are satisfied though access and use of electronic, web-based resources.  However, the Law Library maintains very basic practice-oriented titles, as requested, within the Law Clinics.


    Revised: July, 2015


    Depository History

    Dickinson Law, located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1834. Carlisle is a pre-Revolutionary town of approximately 20,000 people that is home to the U.S. Army War College and Dickinson College. The H. Laddie Montague, Jr. Law Library (formerly known as the Dickinson School of Law's Sheely-Lee Law Library) was designated as a selective federal depository in 1978.

    Mission Statement

    The mission of the Government Documents Section is to provide access to government information and to support the curricular offerings and research needs of the Dickinson Law community. The primary clientele are the students, faculty, and staff of Dickinson Law and the constituents of nearby Congressional Districts.

    The collection is maintained in accordance with the requirements of Title 44, Chapter 19 of the United States Code, Instructions to Depository Libraries, Guidelines for the Depository Library Program, and the Federal Depository Library Manual .

    Selection Responsibility

    Selection of government documents is made by the Government Documents manager. Recommendations from the professional and general library staff, government documents staff, faculty, students, and members of the public are considered by the Law Library when making decisions concerning collection development. The collection supports the curriculum and research interests of the students, faculty, and staff of Dickinson Law and the federal government information needs of nearby Congressional Districts.

    Subject Areas and Collection Arrangement

    A review of the items selected is conducted once a year in preparation for the Annual Update Cycle. Collection in certain subject areas may be expanded or limited based on changes in academic programs and community needs. The collection includes congressional, executive, and administrative primary legal materials and law-related publications in areas of curricular interest, such as Legislation, Trade, Labor, or Civil Rights.

    Moderate to comprehensive collection development includes the following agencies or commissions:

    • National Archives & Records Administration, Federal Register Office (AE) Commerce Department, Patent & Trademark Office (C)
    • Federal Communications Commission (CC)
    • Civil Rights Commission (CR)
    • Defense Department, Judge Advocate General's Office (Anny) (D)
    • Defense Department, Judge Advocate General (Navy) (D)
    • Energy Department, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (E)
    • Federal Maritime Commission (FMC)
    • Federal Trade Commission (FT)
    • General Accounting Office (GA)
    • Government Printing Office (GP),
    • Housing & Urban Development Department, Federal Housing Administration (HH)
    • Interior Department, Indian Affairs Bureau (I)
    • Justice Department (J)
    • Judiciary (JU)
    • President of the United States (PR)
    • Executive Office of the President,; Foreign Broadcast Information Service (PREX) Vice President of the United States (PRVP)
    • State Department (S)
    • Securities and Exchange Commission (SE)
    • Congress (X), (Y1), (Y4)
    • Independent Agencies (Y3)

    Limited collection development includes the following agencies or commissions:

    • Agriculture Department (A)
    • Defense Department (D)
    • Energy Department, Energy Information Administration (E)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EP)
    • Farm Credit Administration (FCA)
    • Health and Human Services Department (HE)
    • Interior Department (I)
    • U.S. Information Agency (IA)
    • International Trade Commission (ITC)
    • Labor Department (L)
    • Library of Congress (LC)
    • Executive Office of the President (PREX)
    • Small Business Administration (SBA)
    • Social Security Administration (SSA)
    • Treasury Department (T)
    • Transportation Department (TD)
    • Veterans Affairs Department (VA)

    The Government Documents Collection is arranged in Superintendent of Document (SuDoc) classification number order. Most Government Document microfiche is filed in SuDoc number order. Selected Government Documents are located in other library collections, such as the Treatise Collection and Reference Collection which are arranged by Library of Congress classification number, Periodical Collection arranged alphabetically by title. Government Document titles are included in the on-line catalog which denotes location of Government Documents.


    Government Documents are selected in all formats including paper, microfiche, and electronic materials. Selection of format is based on content and purpose of publication. Paper is preferred for its pictorial content or reference purposes. Microfiche is selected for ease in storage or preservation purposes. Electronic materials are selected for ease in searching and retrieving information and for storage purposes. Forms and posters are rarely selected.



    Selection Tools, Non-Depository Items, Retrospective Sources

    The following resources are consulted for collection development:

    • GPO ACCESS (Core Documents of U.S. Democracy, and pages for the Federal Library Depository Program )

    Additional bibliographic resources are used when appropriate. Agencies are contacted for documents that are not available through the Federal Library Depository Program. The library maintains a deposit account with GPO for purchase of materials that may not otherwise be available.

    Resource Sharing

    The Government Documents staff is a member of the Central Pennsylvania Documents Group. As part of the Pennsylvania State University, the library also has borrowing privileges with various libraries of the Penn State University campuses.

    Government Documents materials which circulate are included in the Library's Interlibrary Loan Service.

    Weeding and Maintenance

    The Government Depository Collection is maintained according to the guidelines established in the INSTRUCTIONS TO DEPOSITORY LIBRARIES and other publications of the Federal Depository Library Program, and guidelines established by the State Library of Pennsylvania Regional Depository.

    Since 2008, the Law Library significantly reduced its holdings of print Government Documents in favor of access to the growing number of Government Documents now made available electronically.  Most superseded documents are discarded according to the procedures referenced above.


    The Library's online catalog includes bibliographic information and location for many Government Documents titles. All library collections which contain government documents are available to all members of the public during public library hours. Professional staff offers reference service and assistance in locating documents not included in the online catalog during all public library hours.


    Revised: July, 2015


    The Archives of Dickinson Law include material which illuminates much of the Law School 's history. These non-current records, papers and books are preserved because they contain information of administrative, legal, fiscal or research value. In order to perpetuate and augment our archival holdings, a policy must be established for collection of current records from Law School personnel and offices. To this end, the following policies and guidelines are suggested:

    1. All material of enduring value, when no longer in current use in the office to which it pertains, shall be transferred to the Law School Archives in accordance with University record retention policies. The person in charge of each office shall be the judge of which records are in sufficient current use to be retained in the office, and will judge what, if any, restrictions should be placed on access to these records once the records are retired to the Archives.
    2. The kinds of records which should be preserved in the Archives include: (though this list should not be taken as all-inclusive)
      1. minutes and reports produced by committees, task forces, etc.;
      2. all printed publications of the Law School;
      3. policy statements or statistical reports of any office;
      4. correspondence relating to policy making;
      5. alumni and student correspondence is particularly valuable to historians and should be preserved;
      6. letters of noted persons received in pursuit of Law School business are Law School property and should be deposited in the Archives;
      7. faculty papers, especially lecture notes, are a basic historical resource and should be kept. Faculty members and others may restrict his/her own personal papers to access for a period of years or to only certain people;
      8. reprints of all publications, and a copy of all books written by or about faculty members, administrators and alumni. The Archives should be notified of books or articles published by these persons so they can be added to the collection;
      9. minutes and papers of student organizations;
      10. student publications.
    3. Because it is sometimes difficult for individuals to judge the value of records in their custody, no Law School records should be destroyed or disposed of without first consulting the Law Library and the Law School records retention liaison.
    4. Proper archival practice requires that office papers should be kept in the order in which those papers were originated. To this end, groups of records should be retired periodically to the Archives, and individuals in the Law School should make an effort not to send individual items to the Archives in a piecemeal fashion if those individual items were actually part of a larger collection of materials.
    5. The person in charge of the Archives will take suitable measures to preserve, arrange and describe the valuable records of the Law School and shall provide information about them, copies of them, and/or the documents themselves as required for the business of the Law School or for research purposes. If the office which created the record wishes to remove files from the Archives, it does so with the understanding that the files will be returned. Preservation of records can include placing records in acid-free file folders and boxes, and taking any other necessary steps to prevent deterioration of the records over time.


    Revised: July, 2015