The law library as the lawyer’s laboratory: past, present and future applications of Langdell’s metaphor

Somewhere in my collection of old pBooks is a copy of the first edition of Lakoff & Johnson’s now classic Metaphors We Live By. The law library as the lawyer’s laboratory was not covered there. Dick Danner has in his forthcoming LLJ article, Law Libraries and Laboratories: The Legacies of Langdell and His Metaphor [SSRN]. Here’s the abstract for this highly recommended analysis.

Law Librarians and others have often referred to Harvard Law School Dean C.C. Langdell’s statements that the law library is the lawyer’s laboratory. Professor Danner examines the context of what Langdell through his other writings, the educational environment at Harvard in the late nineteenth century, and the changing perceptions of university libraries generally. He then considers how the “laboratory metaphor” has been applied by librarians and legal scholars during the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. The article closes with thoughts on Langdell’s legacy for law librarians and the usefulness of the laboratory metaphor.

— Joe

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