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Law Library Autonomy: Are Law Libraries Really Different?

Academic law libraries in the United States are almost all administratively independent from their central university library systems. They are part of the law schools that they serve, rather than reporting through a wider university-level library system. This autonomy is somewhat unusual. Individual academic departments (almost?) never have libraries that operate with any level of structural autonomy. Even at the school or college level independent libraries are far less common than they are in law. Other professional schools, such as business or medical schools, are less likely to have autonomous libraries. Only around half of medical school libraries, for example, are independent of their university library systems. Among law libraries only about eight schools (around 4% of all law schools) have libraries that are administratively part of university library systems. And even in several of these cases, there is still a very great deal of day-to-day practical “autonomy” in the way that the law schools and their libraries operate.
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