Law library adapts to technology after move to new building

Nancy Hunter has been clerk of the law library for 19 years. "It's evolved into something different," she said.

Nancy Hunter once presided over a law library that took up half of the ninth floor of the Municipal Building and boasted thousands of volumes.


Today, she directs attorneys to five computers and about 300 sets of bound volumes.

The departure from three musty rooms adorned with portraits of judges to a box with beige carpet and harsh fluorescent lights has been tough.

Hunter gave away some of the books to local attorneys before the move last year, but close to 70,000 volumes were shredded. There simply was no room and, in this digital age, no one who would buy them.

“I loved my books. I really was upset,” Hunter said.

In the old building, where Hunter started 19 years ago, three tables with four chairs in the reading room were always filled. Hunter knew all the attorneys by name, especially the young ones fresh out of law school. With the introduction of computers and online case searches, the lawyers’ visits became less frequent.

“It’s evolved into something different,” Hunter said.

A law library doesn’t use the Dewey Decimal System. Instead, it is arranged by sets of case law, state code and high court opinions. Because law is such a fluid subject, Hunter’s job includes adding inserts or notices of overturned cases into spiral-bound indexes.

Most of what she does now, though, is hand out legal forms and point folks to the computer to search the law database. Pro se divorces seem to be growing in popularity.

“It seems sometimes that everyone in the county must be divorced,” Hunter said with a laugh.