History of the Law Library

The history of the Supreme Court of Ohio Law Library began around 1860. The initial collection of nearly 2,000 volumes of law books was originally a part of the State Library collection, which was transferred to rooms assigned to the Supreme Court of Ohio in the State Capitol building upon the completion of the building in 1860. The first law librarian, who served between 1858 and 1860, was Richard Riordan, a court crier. Riordan's successor was Herman Ruess, also a court crier, who served as librarian from 1860 to Feb. 11, 1866.

The law officially creating the office of law librarian was an act passed by the 57th General Assembly of Ohio on Feb. 16, 1867. The first law librarian elected under this law was James H. Beebe, who served until July 12, 1880. Frank N. Beebe, who became the second law librarian upon the death of his father in July 1880, served until his own death in office in September 1903. The size of the collection was increased from 2,500 volumes to 7,500 volumes in 1880 under the elder Mr. Beebe. At the time of the death of his son, the collection was about 20,000 volumes. In 1901, while the younger Mr. Beebe was in office, the library moved into its new quarters in the State House Annex, and the law librarian's title was changed to marshal and law librarian.

E. Howard Gilkey served as marshal and law librarian from Oct. 3, 1903 to Sept. 1, 1913. A count in 1907 showed that the library had 28,000 volumes. Edward Antrim, who succeeded Mr. Gilkey, served from Sept. 1, 1913 through 1921. A catalog published by Mr. Antrim in 1914 had a collection of 35,000 volumes.

During the 50 years from 1921 to 1971, the library had steady growth under the directorship of the following men: John W. Shaw, 1921-1923; Louis McCallister, 1923-1935; Alfred A. Morrison, 1936-1937; Alfred E. Hetherington, 1938-1941; Raymond M. Jones, 1941-1963, and Wilbur G. Cory, 1963-1971. An entry in the 1970 American Library Directory showed that the library had a collection of 114,833 volumes. Paul S. Fu became the director in 1971 and served until mid-2000. During Mr. Fu's tenure the collection increased to 400,000 volumes. Upon Mr. Fu's retirement the assistant director, Diane Kier, served as interim director until 2003, when Kenneth Kozlowski assumed the directorship.

After having remained in the State House Annex for more than 70 years, the law library moved to new quarters in the Rhodes State Office Tower on Aug. 25, 1974, and then to the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in February 2004.

The Supreme Court of Ohio Law Library was established and is maintained primarily for the use of the Justices and staff of the Supreme Court of Ohio. Following long-established tradition and with permission of the Court, the library is also open to other government agencies, members of the bar and the public.

The library staff is dedicated to the organization and maintenance of a high-quality law collection and the provision of the best professional service to all patrons. The library staff constantly evaluates and analyzes its services to patrons and studies new methods and techniques to improve on existing services.

Chief Justice C. William O'Neill, in his State of the Judiciary address delivered at the 93rd Ohio State Bar Association convention in Dayton on May 10, 1973, pointed out that "when we move into our new library. . . our Court will have charted the course that will soon provide for the bar of this state one of the great law libraries in America." This remains the library's ultimate goal.