Digital distinction

Digital distinction

The Coleman Karesh Law Library is becoming the go-to online resource for legal questions

Technology has become a necessity in the legal community, allowing ease of use and widespread availability of legal documents across municipalities and states.

Lawyers and clerks are now programmed to look online to find answers to their questions, and with increasing frequency they are turning to the Coleman Karesh Law Library.

“The first thing people, both students and alumni, want to know is if a resource is electronic,” said associate director for library administration Pamela Melton.

The law library began to digitize some of its 500,000 volumes in early 2010, starting with older versions of state statutes, from colonial laws to the 1952 South Carolina codes. Five years into the project, the online collection now covers projects centered on facilitating state primary law research, including:

• The S.C. State Register from March 1977 to June 1999
• Historical codes
• S.C. attorney general opinions*
• The Colcock-Hutson Collection, a 19th-century law library
• Memory Hold the Door, a memorial repository of biographies of esteemed late S.C. attorneys.

While the records and briefs collection isn’t itself digital, you can search its holdings from your office and easily pinpoint the hard copy’s location within the library. As the initiative continues, the law library hopes to add South Carolina’s Acts and Joint Resolutions to its online collection. The eventual goal is to have a comprehensive digital record of the state’s legal history.

“We are always thinking of things we can do to preserve our state’s legal material and make it more accessible to people who need it,” Melton said.

By creating an extensive collection of information online, the law library strengthens its reign as the Palmetto State’s premier law library, supporting not only the teaching and learning of current students and faculty, but also of the public, including alumni and bar members. Many of the digital collections are available via the law library website at law.sc.edu/library/research_aids/scref.shtml and law.sc.edu/library/special.shtml, while others require help from the law library staff.

“We hope the legal community realizes we are available and willing to help them with their research needs,” said Melton, who encourages attorneys to use the online resources or contact the Coleman Karesh reference desk at lawref@law.sc.edu or at (803) 777-5902 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday for assistance.

*S.C. attorney general opinions are available through HeinOnline, and can be accessed at no cost from any law library computer.